CRM Implementation Road Map

Posted: July 25, 2023

Danielle Attanasio CRM Strategist

Starting Strong with Your Implementation

So you’ve selected a brand new customer relationship management (CRM) software. Now it’s time to start thinking about how you will transition to your new system. The initial implementation of your CRM sets the foundation for your future working relationship with the system. This is the time to clean up outdated processes, improve your daily operations, and organize your data like never before.

Before we get into our steps for a successful CRM implementation, we’re going to get some insight from our fictional implementation team: the dreamer, the optimist, and the realist. At first glance, it might seem like these three personas have nothing in common, but let’s hear from all three and see where the similarities lie.

The Dreamer

“I’m really looking forward to implementing this new CRM system. I have so many project ideas that I think will really make our process sing. Before we’ve even started, I already have a vision for what I want to build in the CRM first. I’ve worked at this school for a long time; I know the daily operations really well, and I can see a use case for our new CRM in almost every element of the department.”

The Optimist

“There’s a lot that didn’t work for us before, but I’m confident that this new system will solve all of our problems. I was really blown away during the demonstration phase of this new CRM because it really seems like it has an answer to every question that we have. I am really looking forward to the implementation phase because I think it’s going to be fun and a lot easier than everyone else seems to think!”

The Realist

“I think this new CRM will be really good for us, but the implementation process is going to be really challenging. We’ll have to go through all of our processes, really get organized, and try to change some really long-standing methods that I think will get a lot of pushback from our office. I just hope that the rest of our implementation team knows that this is a really big undertaking and that we have to take it really seriously.”

Now that we’ve heard from all the players, where do you see yourself? Can you hear your voice from all of these perspectives? We hope so – because for a CRM implementation to be successful, you have to be a little bit of all of these people. Willing to dream up new workflows and processes, able to stay optimistic during stressful times, and ready with enough realism to keep the project moving forward when it feels like you’ve reached a roadblock.

Without further delay, here is a simplified list of the steps required for a successful CRM implementation:

Step 1: Select Your Implementation Team

Choose your dreamer, optimist, realist, and anyone in between. Selecting the right people to be in the room for these conversations is crucial. Ensure you’ve got a balance between individuals who will be directly affected by this change and those who have enough institutional knowledge to help inform your decisions to come. Read our article on CRM governance for help with this!

Selecting the right people to be in the room for these conversations is crucial.

Step 2: Document Your Current Processes

Before you can start building and transitioning your work over to the new system, you have to document all of your current processes. That means all of the workflows, relevant staff members, affected offices, communication plans, and more. Basically, you should document anything that you can think of that keeps your office running ahead of your implementation to prepare for the translation of that process to the new system. 

Business process maps (BPMs) are a great way to visualize some of these things to help see where any gaps could be filled or efficiencies could be made. If you’re unsure where to start with creating all of these standard operating procedures (SOPs), we have an article for that, too!

Step 3: Develop an Implementation Timeline

Once you have your team and have documented current operations, it’s time to have some fun! This step will take some time, but we promise it will pay off in the long run. Begin by setting some SMART goals. These need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based goals.

Your implementation timeline should be your project management hub. It should include timelines, due dates, and a summary of your goals for this project. Answer these questions:

  • Where will you start?
  • When do you have to launch?
  • How will this project coincide with important dates like your application launch, deposit deadline, etc.?

Plan to start having regular, weekly meetings dedicated to your CRM implementation. Also, have a plan for how to assign items, organize information, and maintain accountability throughout the next few months.

Your implementation timeline should be your project management hub, just like VisionPoint’s, pictured above.

Step 4: Consider Historical Data

Do you want to migrate historical data into your new CRM, or are you planning to start fresh? You’ll likely need to move at least some historical data in order to have a seamless transition, but how much is necessary?

At a minimum, you’ll want to consider anyone still active in your application or recruitment cycle. Some may also choose to go back two or three years so that you have some year-over-year reporting options available to you immediately.

Odds are, if you’re moving to a new CRM, there were things about your old platform that weren’t working for you. Think about those things. Make a list of how you’d like things to be. Use them as your guiding light throughout this project. It won’t be a walk in the park, and it will be challenging, but it will also be rewarding. And, if you’re doing it right, it will spark a new light in the daily work you’ve gotten so used to. Stick to your plans, be willing to be flexible, and remember the voices of the dreamer, optimist, and realist. Most importantly – have fun!

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