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Steps for Effective CRM Implementation
1. Set Precise Goals
It is important that a CRM solution is business-oriented. This means that the solution should reflect the way the enterprise wishes to work in the future. To do this, it is necessary to start with the enterprise's CRM strategy and to ensure that once implemented the system will support the customer, channel and product strategies. The CRM strategy should he supplemented with concrete goals that can he used as reference points during the implementation process and can also function as critical success factors for the finished CRM solution.

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2. Involve all Departments Affected
The heads of the departments that are affected by the implementation should be involved. From the start they should understand the necessity reaching an agreement concerning implementation goals. At the same time, it should he emphasized that the success of the process depends on the active involvement of the managers. This can be in the form of investing resources (e.g., business specialists to ensure that the processes and system are designed to meet their needs during the sign stage) and in their willingness to "sell" the change internally in organization. They must be advocates of this initiative.

3. Follow the Project's Progress Carefully
Despite the fact that good plans are initially put in place, a lack of diligence can result in sub-optimization when it comes to ensuring the success of a project, many mistakes are made. Often the enterprise discovers too late that the project plan is behind schedule. The project may seem to be moving forward because there is a lot of activity—but important deadlines are still far in the future. Miscalculations may arise but do not seem serious at the lime.

Gradually, as the project progresses past the various milesitones, a picture begins to emerge of the tasks that have not been given sufficient attention (such as change management but this does not cause management to pump more employees into the project either. Unfortunately in cases like this, the true CRM strategic goals will begin to fade and the solution will not he sufficiently anchored in the enterprise.

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Time after time it has been demonstrated that the unexpected happens. That is why it is necessary to continually follow up and adjust the plan in relation to the original project goals. The re are numerous reason for project delay. Some are legitimate and acceptable, but others are a direct result of the lack of precise planning or no planning at all. But merely making a plan does not necessarily mean solving the problem. It is also important to follow up the plan with work. In other words, "plan the work and work the plan."

4. Communicate Continually with Interested Parties
Communication is one of the most important ingredients when it comes to developing understanding for a CRM solution. From the start, change should be presented as aimed toward the business side and not the IT side. Employees must understand that the enterprise is initiating the project to achieve business benefits in the form of loyalty, cross sales, improved customer service and such, and that all activities aim to maintain the competitiveness of the enterprise—and its ability to retain competent employees.

During the project, participants will come into contact with large parts of the organization and thus they are an important group when it comes to communications. All of these people should therefore have a good understanding of the whole project and be able to answer general questions such as: why is this necessary? and how is it going to benefit the company and me? The following tips can help make a communication program a success :

• When choosing communicators, the enterprise should be selective. These people should be well-respected and perceived as reliable sources of information.
• One should avoid the enterprise "jungle drums" because they can be difficult to control.
• Employee understanding of the project must be kept up to date.
• There should he a steady stream of communication. Management should not be afraid to repeal key messages.
• Middle managers are good communicators and at the same time important supporters of the project.
• Employees should have the opportunity to come forward with feedback and ideas through "town hall" meetings.
• "Picture language" should be used to avoid too many details—a picture is worth a thousand words—use it to your advantage.
• All information about the project should be collected in a database and made available to all employees.

Communication does not come just from top management and the project team. Employee attitudes and thus their acceptance of the CRM solution are strongly influenced by other employees in the organization, in particular those that they respect, admire and follow. That is why at all times throughout the project, the project team should identify those influential people whose support is necessary for the success of the project. In situations where the person's support is not forthcoming, the team should try to find out what can be done to change the person's attitude.

5. Focus on Quick Wins
To promote a willingness lo change, top management normally needs to quickly show some quick wins to the organization to convince employees that the CRM efforts are worth the effort. Quick wins are convincing sales arguments for a CRM project to interested parties within the organization. Thus, management often tries to achieve several large quick wins at the start of a project to create the necessary momentum. In some cases, the improved earnings achieved by quick wins at the beginning of a project can almost pay for the rest of it. This highlight the importance of utilizing quick wins effectively.

Source of Reference:
Stanley Brown, Customer Relationship Management: A Strategic Imperative in the World of E-Business, John Wiley. You can obtain this excellent book here

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