Establishing Expectations for a Successful CRM Implementation

April 12, 2023 Ken Jacobsen

Establishing Expectations for a Successful CRM Implementation

From product-driven organizations (like real estate and equipment manufacturing) to service-based businesses (such as law firms, consultancies and customer service organizations), CRM system software is a game-changing resource that improves customer engagement in client-facing organizations. Through applications like Sales, Marketing and Field Service, customer relationship management software helps to synchronize all of the processes that take place across the organization while increasing visibility and collaboration. With CRM software, marketing teams, sales teams and customer service teams maintain regular, sometimes constant contact with the client in need of the service or product. None of them occur in isolation, either; the exchanges take place throughout the customer journey before, during and after the sale is completed —  resulting in happier,  more engaged customers.

There is no better CRM solution on the market today to handle all of these interactions than the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM solutions Sales, Customer Service, Field Service and Marketing. Offering a versatile selection of features like case management, analytics, opportunity management and contact management, this CRM platform provides your business with the tools, technologies and capabilities that make it easier to manage customer interactions in all of their forms and manifestations.

But just as every successful customer relationship begins with a good first impression, central to experiencing all of the unique, revolutionary benefits of a CRM solution is a successful CRM implementation.

What makes for a successful CRM implementation?

Of course, the whole goal of a CRM is to streamline the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s customer-facing processes. But ironically enough, most CRM-related projects stumble out of the gate, failing to provide the benefits that organizations seek. This may be evidenced by the company deciding not to use the CRM software due to inadequate CRM user training, resistance to change, lack of executive support, poor data quality or the solution failing to improve the day-to-day front office affairs of the company.

While there are a variety of reasons why CRM implementations never take hold, the fault for failures is usually the partner that’s performing the implementation itself.

The key to any successful CRM implementation process is knowing what success looks like. This starts with the implementation partner getting a better understanding of the organization’s needs. The firm performing the implementation should be fully clear about the challenges that the company is encountering and how the applications due to be installed will help to resolve them. Each application should be for a specific purpose or installed for future needs.

For all of these reasons, a successful CRM implementation largely hinges on the implementation team, their expertise and their ability to fully understand what the business that hired them seeks to get out of the solution. But there are some preparations your business can take to make your partner’s success that much more likely. And the first order of business is creating a systems committee:

1. Put together a systems committee

A systems committee is composed of all the relevant stakeholders that will either be using the CRM itself or who are intimately involved in day-to-day business decisions. This may include sales representatives, chief operating officers, IT staff and more. The systems committee is the one that remains in constant contact with the implementation partner, as success hinges on the project being done collaboratively. The systems committee also helps to define what you want to achieve from the CRM so the go-live solution is fully in line with the organization’s short-term and long-term business goals.

2. Perform an audit

You may be in a situation where you’re not sure exactly what the problem is but you do know that the current way of doing things isn’t working. In these situations, an audit is especially critical. Through an audit, you can get to the bottom of the problems plaguing the organization and how the implementation partner can customize the solution so it addresses those problems. The audit also involves examining what solution, if any, you’re currently using and how it’s contributing to your visibility, efficiency, communication or other kinds of challenges.

Even if you are aware of what the problems are, an audit is still important to perform because it can bring to light underlying issues that may not be obvious.

3. Define success

Any successful CRM implementation requires some business-related soul-searching. Asking questions like “What problems are preventing the organization from reaching its objectives or sales goals?” What are the company’s main strengths?” “What are its weaknesses?” can help you establish a clearer understanding of what success will look like once the implementation process is completed.

4. Do your research

With the discovery work taken care of that will inform how the implementation will proceed, the next step is finding an implementation partner. Even if you have a good idea of the implementation partner that has the relevant expertise to assure a successful CRM implementation, be open to other vendors. They may have a solution that is more in line with your needs or is easier to operate than the one you’re currently using.

As for the qualifications you should be looking for in a CRM implementation partner, aside from documented implementation experience and performing them for businesses in a variety of industries, a worthy one should be willing to show you what they’re made of with a demonstration. This way, they can show you why they’re the best, not just tell you why.

5. Ask questions as they arise

While CRM software is designed to be user-friendly, a CRM implementation as a process is highly technical, requiring the skills and expertise of professionals who have been there, done that. While second-hand to the implementation team, the process may be brand new to your systems committee. As such, if questions come up for them, the committee should feel free to ask them. Your implementation partners expect there to be questions and ought to be more than willing to provide clarity on any issue that requires an explanation. And remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question.

6. Prepare for data migration

CRM implementation often involves migrating customer data from your existing systems to the new platform. For this to be done effectively and comprehensively, the data needs to be cleaned and formatted. In addition, data mapping may be required to ensure that the data  is ready for importation into the new system.


Why choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and The TM Group for an implementation

Everyone wants to get more. More bang for their buck, more results for their efforts and more done in less time. That’s why you should pick Microsoft as your preferred CRM vendor. Whether it’s monitoring real-time performance data, optimizing workflows with automation, connecting multiple customer engagement platforms (e.g. live chat, calls, email, etc.) or increasing team productivity, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a CRM tool that delivers more of the capabilities than the average CRM. Its advanced analytics and reporting features make Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM a popular choice for organizations that seek to better understand and optimize all of their customer interactions.

And if you already have one or several Microsoft products — such as Outlook, Excel, Power BI or Teams — Dynamics 365 CRM can seamlessly integrate with those solutions. It’s also fully scalable so it can adapt to meet the needs of your business if you decide to expand or downsize.

Another key to a successful implementation is transparency in how the process will work. Since our founding, The TM Group (TMG) has completed well over one thousand implementations of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP software applications for (mostly) midsize organizations in numerous industries, including automotive, supply chain, field service, family offices, retail, grocery, distribution, manufacturing, non profit, educational institutions, health care and more. We attribute our deep experience with Microsoft solutions to our longevity and our ability to customize solutions to the needs of the client.

But we also attribute it to our clients knowing at the outset what to expect before the implementation gets underway.


Initial discovery

When you work with TMG, our sales and consulting team will first do some initial discovery with your team (presumably your systems committee) to explore, validate and discuss the appropriate solution or combination of solutions for your work environment and the critical needs of your organization. While we’re a Microsoft partner —meaning we install software produced by Microsoft — we also represent many related solutions from other software providers that work with the Microsoft CRM and ERP solutions. If your business requirements require more than Microsoft provides in their solutions, we will recommend some of these integrated solution vendors or we may have our development team build it. We will also often implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for ERP at the same time we are doing a CRM implementation, to handle both the front and back office functions of an organization.

For example, if you were looking to manage multiple business processes that aren’t all customer-facing — such as inventory, production and accounting — adding the ERP solution is usually a better option than trying to do this within the CRM applications. Initial discovery may be the most important step to successful implementation because it shows you where you’re at and a rough outline of the path forward.


CRM Roadmap

While the first phase pinpoints where you are and where you want to go, the second phase charts the CRM roadmap. This involves performing what we call an implementation planning study and a resulting Statement of Work, which is a detailed report put together by our consulting team and outlines all of the steps required to successfully implement a CRM/ERP project. Varying in length, the document generally includes an analysis of the project’s goals, objectives and expected outcomes, as well as a timeline for the project’s execution, from planning to going live. The roadmap may also include details about what resources will be needed (i.e. personnel, equipment, budget, potential risks and challenges that may arise) and other particulars that are relevant to business, industry or an existing solution. Moreover, if during initial discovery it’s determined that a customized solution is in order, this will be included in the implementation planning study and development documentation will be created.


Execution of implementation

This is the phase where the implementation of the software is rolled out. This includes training for end users and ensuring that any necessary hardware and software infrastructure is in place. If CRM integrations or development needs to be performed, that also will take place during implementation.


Our experience speaks for itself

As one of the largest tech organizations in the world, Microsoft has many implementation and integration partners. So you may wonder: What makes TMG the best Microsoft partner? Answer: Experience — and a lot of it. Here are just a few of our resume highlights:

– More than 1,000 years of cumulative team experience and a consulting team with an average of a decade of experience.
– Certified with more than two dozen solution providers.
– Extensive engagement and project management experience.
– Deep specialization bench, including CRM, ERP, accounting, manufacturing, job costing, service management, human resources, payroll and financials.
– Onsite and online CRM/ERP training available.
– In house development and integration team.

TMG is also a regular award winner, having received many several times, including the President’s Club Award, the Inner Circle Award, the Customer Satisfaction Award, Heritage Partner Sales Excellence Award, Dynamics Sales Excellence Award and have been named Partner of the Year — the highest achievement attainable for Dynamics partners. It’s no wonder why we’ve long been known as one of Microsoft Corporation’s “most accomplished Dynamics partners.” Additionally, TMG has been recognized as the Central Region Partner 15+ times, as our corporate headquarter is located in Novi, Michigan, roughly 30 minutes northwest of Detroit. We also have satellite offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan, South Bend, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio.

For more than 30 years our mission at TMG has been to empower organizations and people with the latest technology that will lead them to a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow. CRM technology — and technology in general — has changed in some incredible ways since we first opened our doors in 1984, but our mission and commitment to the client have remained the same. We hope you’ll choose us as your preferred Microsoft partner for all of your CRM consultant, implementation, development and customer support business needs. Contact us today to learn more.

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