CRM solutions are intended to solve business problems while providing a resource for all of the departments to be on the same page. CRM, if properly integrated, can help the efficiency of any company. Unfortunately, half of all CRM projects fail (forester research). These projects may fail for many reasons. For instance, some companies do not mandate proper training to their different departments. Another reason is the functionality of the software doesn’t fit their needs. However, the worst culprit for CRM project failures is when companies do not incorporate their current business processes into the CRM.
Let’s take a step back and look at how most companies operate, regardless of their size or industry. In every organization, there are key roles and positions. The people that fill those roles have various steps and processes to get their jobs done. These processes can involve many people and, sometimes, other departments. Over time, the company will standardize the procedures. These processes (performed by humans) are the connective tissue for the flow of the business. The speed, integrity, and accuracy of the processes are only as good as the weakest link in any organization.
The size of the company will typically determine the number of departments and the amount of business processes. Each process needs to be well understood. Companies should assemble a team that includes a person from each area of their business. This assembly will be able to discuss the important procedures within the departments, how to make each department more efficient, come up with better options, and realize different ways all the teams can work together. A lot of CRM projects help this process by linking between many departments including the Customer Service, Sales, and Marketing Teams.
Adding Processes to a CRM
When core business processes are integrated into a CRM, it minimizes human error, while streamlining the business flow. Many of these integrations help multiple departments and customers. As an example, through the use of workflows, the CRM system can automatically:
- schedule follow-up appointments
- escalate critical items to management
- assign leads by territory
- move opportunities to the next stage triggered by a specific action
Standard, Out-of-the-box CRM Solutions
Often, after a quick ‘free trial’ companies will buy CRM software directly off the vendor’s website. The company then loads their data into the system, changes a few fields and begins using their “out of the box” solution. If the software is not flexible enough or if it doesn’t have the functionality they need …The Project Will Fail. The main reason most companies buy a CRM is to make their business more efficient. But if the company is unable to automate their current business processes, they will not get any value out of the system.
Flexible, Out-of-the-box CRM Solutions
If the out of the box solution meets most of their business needs, has the flexibility and workflows, the company may still be able to use the system with success. This is usually the case when a CRM vendor has a focus on the company’s specific industry. The flexibility helps the CRM project to better fit how the company, but usually will not completely fill all of their needs. The flexible CRM will help in many more ways, but will still not be truly melded with the company’s practices.
Integrations & Customized Processes
Businesses can find good CRM solutions that are flexible and fit most of their needs, but they may need a few custom modifications or integrations with outside systems (ERP, Websites, etc.). The vendor should be able to assist the company for a nominal fee. A good CRM vendor will scope out the business model so the software is configured correctly using the business own processes. When a CRM is customized with an understanding of the businesses needs and practices, the integration of the CRM will assist with many more processes. The vendor should also be able to recommend more efficient and optimal methods (using best practices) stemming from the vendor’s experience with other customer deployments and the power of their CRM.
Successful CRM Implementations closely mirror a company’s business model. Although industry verticals incorporate more processes than horizontal solutions, they still are not company specific and will not have a high success rate. Companies should use a qualified implementation team to understand their business and optimize a CRM for them. These CRM projects will be the most versatile and helpful, as well as be able to blend with the business practices. These projects will be more helpful at integrating multiple departments of the business and fulfilling the needs of the users. The key to a successful CRM adoption is not to completely change the way you do business, it’s taking your current processes and making everyone’s jobs easier. User adoption rate will immediately soar and your business will see their problems resolved.