Customer relationship management software can help businesses solve a wide variety of problems and create more efficiencies in many different areas of operation. These advantages are dependent on a variety of factors, however. Companies have to make good decisions from the very beginning of the process before a specific type of software or a CRM partner has even been selected. This is true all the way through to the post-implementation period to get the most out of a CRM system.

With the need to be consistent and proactive a top priority, here’s a three-part checklist for businesses to follow as they begin the CRM process:

1. A knowledgeable and diverse implementation team
The implementation team helps guide the decision-making process for CRM and gets things done so that the system becomes a functional reality. The team also works closely with the chosen CRM partner to provide input and insight as well as technical information for the installation. It’s important, then, that this team has the right makeup. There are many different needs to consider, including having a voice for end users as well as a presence from the executive suite.

CRM Search’s detailed guide to selecting an implementation team suggests bringing in a variety of stakeholders, some of which change between businesses and industries. However, there are some basic recommendations that all businesses can use. Having an IT executive involved helps to deal with technical issues while also providing executive-level insight and a connection with company leadership. Sales and marketing departments obviously need to be represented, as they will likely have the most day-to-day involvement with the system. Involving those who have duties related to business analysis, information security and finance are all important as well: They craft a complete view of the system from the company’s perspective.

2. A plan for training, education and cultural adoption
Getting employees involved with a new CRM system needs to be an early change and one that receives the proper amount of attention from business leaders. Involvement takes many forms. These range from the technical training that shows staff members how to successfully interface with CRM software to higher-level educational efforts that focus on business benefits and the possibility of enhanced stability, growth and the potential for more profit. Alongside these requirements is a need for cultural adoption. Employees can be taught how to use CRM and told why it’s beneficial. But unless the staff agree that it’s in their best interests as well as the company’s, little progress will be made.

Educational efforts should start with explaining to employees how a CRM system will make their jobs easier and allow them to be more productive. This is another area where a strong implementation team can help. Individual members of the team can create positive sentiment in their departments by pointing to specific developments, instead of broader improvements that don’t necessarily affect single employees or workloads as much as they improve operations as whole. CIO.com additionally suggested identifying early adopters and “super users” in each area of operations who can further the educational mission.

3. A great partner
As much as businesses have to be responsible for the success of their CRM systems, a poor choice in providers can hamstring the entire effort. Doing early research, requesting proposals alongside more information and asking for examples of past successes are all tactics to help businesses find the right partner for their new CRM effort. Having a high-quality partner pays off in many ways, from having knowledge and experience available throughout the implementation process to long-term support that doesn’t disappear when the initial setup is complete.