| By Denise Holland
Who Should Be Part of Your CRM Implementation Team - and Why?
So your organization has decided to implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software throughout the enterprise. Now the crucial step is to determine who should be involved in the planning and implementation effort. Assembling the right CRM implementation project team is a clear precursor to implementation success. However, making sure you have the right people on the bus, and everyone sitting in the right seats, is often a challenging exercise in organizations with scarce resources and limited internal CRM software implementation experience.
As with any major IT or business systems deployment, it’s vital to get support for the project from the senior-most management at the company. Without backing at the highest levels of the organization, the project will suffer a credibility gap and is far more likely to fail, or at the minimum not live up to its potential for driving customer strategy and boosting revenue. These senior executives can help broadcast the goals and the company’s commitment to the CRM implementation and objectives.
Senior management doesn’t need to be directly involved in the details of the implementation project, however, unless there’s a point of impasse or strategic advice is needed. In most smaller organizations, it makes sense to have the CEO, President, COO or other senior executive weigh in on key decisions. At larger organizations, a representative of senior management or steering committee can oversee many aspects of the project.
Who should be intricately involved in the CRM implementation depends largely on which aspects of customer relationship management the company plans to adopt and the goals of the organization. But in general, for an enterprise CRM implementation it makes sense to have the following participants on the project team.
CIO or other IT executive. A CRM software deployment is a strategic technology initiative that needs direction from the top of the IT chain. The CIO, VP of IT or IT Director can help ensure that there’s continuous alignment between technology and the business. If you’re implementing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM solution, don’t be naive in thinking that IT plays a lesser role. It doesn’t. Whether the CRM software is deployed on-premise or via SaaS, IT leadership and participation for technology alignment, data conversion, system integration, system administration, user training and trouble-shooting will be essential if you are to achieve a successful implementation and trouble-free operating environment.
Heads of sales, marketing and/or customer support. It’s imperative that business line heads in the customer facing areas that will be most affected by CRM software be an active and vocal part of the planning and implementation process. These line of business executives can identify optimal business processes, key activities to automate, determine the types of data the organization needs to track, who should have access to applications, the types of information access most critical to each user community and the ultimate measures of success.
Network engineer. If the CRM applications are run on internal systems rather than via software-as-a-service, the project team can be aided by the addition of technical managers who understand the IT infrastructure that will support the applications. This help might come from network administrators, database administrators, data center architects, hardware engineers or a similar IT title. They can determine technology requirements such as computational, storage, backup and disaster recovery objectives and the methods to fulfill these vital capabilities.
Business analyst. CRM software systems process volumes of transaction data – accounts, contacts, activities, opportunities, campaigns, incidents, cases, tickets and the like. The accumulation of these transactions provides an outstanding opportunity for data aggregation, mining, manipulation and analysis. CRM systems hold treasure troves of buried intelligence, however, few people and organizations know how to extract the intelligence and act upon it. Business analysts can help the project team ensure that the right data is being recorded in a way that it can be extracted and put into the hands of knowledge workers and decision makers.
Information security specialist. Information security, regulatory compliance and risk management are huge priorities for many organizations today. CRM software is the system of record for two of an organization’s most critical information assets – its customer list and its sales forecast. CRM applications are also vulnerable to information security threats such as compromises to confidentiality, integrity and accessibility. Information security experts can design or suggest optimum ways to ensure that data is safe from various kinds of security breaches, and that the organization is in compliance with regulatory requirements.
Finance department representative. Someone from finance can help guide decisions about costs of licensing, subscriptions and support and also contribute to discussions about return on investment metrics. A financial or accounting resource should also be involved in managing and reporting project budget performance, variances and projections.
An outside consultant. In some cases it makes sense to hire an experienced outside consultant who can provide leadership, experience and advice. Consultants normally provide hands on participation and help implement CRM, including business process mapping, configuration alternatives, system integration strategies, recommendations for application optimization, advise on security strategies and suggestions for methods to capture, extract, transfer and analyze data.
End users. Certainly not to be overlooked for the project team are a representative group of end users from sales, marketing, customer support and any other areas of the organization that will be active participants or beneficiaries of the CRM system. In fact, users are among the most critical team members, as they can provide first hand guidance on the weight, prioritization and value of various features and capabilities evaluated during the planning and implementation process.
With various departmental representatives from across the enterprise, and possibly across many physical locations, it’s important to remember that good project teams require good communications throughout the project. Many project teams designate a communication manager to keep the project team and the company at large briefed during the project. CRM projects are likely to fail if there isn’t strong communication, collaboration and commitment among the various participating parties. The right team supplemented with the right communication provides the basis to begin working in unison toward a common goal that will ultimately help ensure the CRM solution meets the needs of the organization and delivers on the promised benefits.
Categories: CRM Implementations
Tags: project teams
Author: Denise Holland