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Is your office CRM?
Business surveys show that more than half of CRM solutions actually fail because of poor implementation. Our experts recommend ten steps that project managers can take to ensure the successful adoption of new CRM solutions.
1. Get Clear on Who Owns CRM Solutions

Some marketing professionals perceive sales automation as a function of the IT department. In other organizations, CRM might be viewed as an individual's "pet project." Instead, everyone in an organization should have some emotional buy-in for CRM to succeed.

2. Communicate How CRM Solutions Help Meet Business Goals

Customer relationship management encounters resistance in organizations where CRM solutions appear to contradict goals. For instance, if employees don't feel empowered by information, CRM can become a waste of time. Tying each element of a CRM implementation to a policy or to a vision statement can improve its chance for success.

3. Put Customer Relationship Management into Strategic Context
In organizations where CRM solutions fail, project managers often focus on the potential savings of sales automation features. Instead, successful project managers emphasize the areas of long-term opportunity opened up by CRM.

4. Offer Thorough Training on CRM Solutions
Scheduling a handful of mandatory training sessions is a great strategy for a failed implementation, according to veteran project managers. Understanding that different team members may have different learning styles can lead to a more comprehensive training program that continues beyond the launch phase.

5. Carve Sales Automation Tasks into Manageable Chunks
CRM solutions fail to gain traction in organizations when one team member or job role becomes tasked with "keeping things running." Instead, project managers can work out assignments for specific departments that keep the system from developing a bottleneck.

6. Track ROI on CRM Solutions
Project managers often justify a CRM solution by pointing at the potential cost benefits. Moving beyond the internal savings and into tracking the new business generated from sales automation and other modules is essential to keeping a CRM project moving forward.

7. Prepare for Culture Shock after Online CRM Implementation
Online CRM tools break down barriers in organizations, even when stakeholders prefer to keep some information to themselves. Openly addressing coming changes and their implications early in the launch cycle can help prevent team members from rolling back into old habits.

8. Roll Out CRM Solutions Gradually
In organizations where CRM solutions failed to take root, stakeholders often reported feeling overwhelmed. Launching CRM in smaller chunks maintains a sense of forward momentum while team members become acclimated to new systems.

9. Ask for Input on Customization and Future Releases
When stakeholders feel "shut out" of the release process, CRM implementations fail. Soliciting and tracking feature requests can help team members understand how CRM solutions evolve over time, based on user feedback and budget guidelines.

10. Celebrate Milestones Regularly
Taking time to celebrate wins is just as important as addressing opportunities, according to many experienced CRM project managers. Giving team members time to reflect on the positive impact of a CRM solution can shift focus away from gripes and criticisms of an incomplete system.

Clear Communication Leads to CRM Success
Experts agree that following these ten steps often leads to significantly higher success rates for CRM rollouts. Keeping everyone in the loop about the rationale for and the progress of the project is essential to an effective launch.

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