By Michael Copestake, Head of Consultancy, Call Pro

The new breed of innovative CRMs have the power and credentials to transform the sales and marketing processes. But fulfilling this potential is dependent on the correct implementation which is where a thorough approach to planning comes in.

A clarity of purpose is critical, knowing what you want the system to achieve; if indeed it can match your requirements and how it is expected to tie in with wider business objectives and processes. Once this is established and understood across the whole of the team that will be using it, the groundwork can be laid from budget and data management to integration.

Keep an eye on costs
One area to be particularly mindful of is factoring in additional costs in your budget. By nature CRM is an evolving beast, with upgrades and add ons commonplace, not to mention training, support and maintenance costs that will be needed. As such, the system needs to be seen as an ongoing investment rather than one off payment.

Get your house in order
In the way that you wouldn’t expect a rose to bloom amongst a bed of weeds, a CRM system needs the right foundation from which to thrive with the minimum data requirements or replacement solution in place before your purchase. Quality data permeates the heart of every business and should be at the forefront when making a CRM choice, all basics need to be addressed.

The system is not an Island
CRM is all about integration, drawing many strands of sales and marketing activities together in one place and the same applies to how the system is actually operated within a business. Consideration needs to be given to the different users and levels of users across the organisation and the necessary interaction between departments, how the software used in one will successfully link to another.

Equally important is addressing the culture. There needs to be full buy in with the system from everyone and to achieve this there must be a full understanding of what it is does and the capabilities. To support this effort, it is worth choosing individuals across departments as demonstrable success stories who will actively champion the system and promote its use more widely.

Beware of the extra risk
However with multiple users comes a higher threat to data integrity which means that measures to manage the process and report on, be it manual or automated, need to be a priority.

So with all bases covered you should now be ready for that all important implementation.