CRM Critical Success Factor 2: CRM Implementation Approach

Find out how to improve your CRM implementation plans and approach in this article.

Why is a good CRM Implementation Approach required?

“To avoid the big bang approach and manage an evolution style phase implementation.” Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

Isn’t that just project management? No, what we are talking about here is really having a CRM implementation approach that takes you from your initial ideas, help you prioritise those ideas, qualifies a solution, all the way through to phase the project, training and delivery, and on-going support.  See What is the QGate CRM Success Program? for details on our approach.

And then coming back through that cycle to do the next phase – avoiding, wherever possible, the big bang approach which most companies do these days anyway.

So What Makes a Good CRM Implementation Methodology?

CRM Implementation Approach


The CRM implementation approach needs to be scalable enough to cope with small phases and larger more complex ones

  • Take the very simple start point ideas
  • Formulate and prioritise these ideas
  • Involve the user so that they feel that they’re part of the project
  • Qualify the solution
  • Roll out of phases

Manage Expectations

What are everybody’s expectations? Are they in line with what you plan to deliver? If you have agreed on the scope for each phase and share mutual goals and an ultimate view of the system, you should be able to answer these questions.

The next step is to then manage the expectation.

During the discussions, presentations and consultations that will be part of the process, many requirements, suggestions, needs and priorities will be covered.  It is imperative that these are not lost, but are recorded.  However, it is also vital that for each phase it is clear which of those areas and requirements discussed are to be delivered.  The users are aware of the deliverables and there are no surprise omissions or additions.

Clear Documentation and Terminology

To help manage expectations and communicate the goals and deliverables for each phase of the CRM project, it is essential to have appropriate levels of documentation that are regularly maintained and adhered to.  Don’t use technical jargon.  Use inclusive terminology commonly used and understood by the organisation to allow it to be clearly understood and accepted by all parties.

In a smaller phase or project, there is a balance to be drawn between spending weeks creating documentation, against the days actually required to deliver the phase.  Make use of common templates, checklist formats, and bulleted lists rather than long drawn out text.  And a picture paints a thousand words!

The Day One System

A phrase we use in every new CRM project is “The Day One System”.  In other words, we are focusing the attention on what must be there on Day One of the systems going live.  As discussed above, lots of ideas, requirements, etc. will come out through the discussions, but keeping a keen eye on what is really required in the first instance is critical to ensure an on time and on budget first phase.


Allow for optimal (cost effective) use of all resources available to both the customer and partner.

User adoption is often quoted as a critical success factor in itself.  We actually see user adoption as a measure of success. By having the right approach within the methodology you can include the users in the project and therefore build up their adoption even before you’ve rolled the system out.
If you go about this correctly then you really will have a far greater level of user adoption as a result.

Sure Step

As an example, we use the Microsoft Sure Step methodology as the foundation of our implementation approach.  On first glance, it can appear something of a sledgehammer.  However, if you look at its underlying approach it really provides a great way of breaking down a project into sub-phases.  Once you understand this, you can then scale the tasks and the associated documentation appropriately to the project in hand.

Sure Step Phases Summary


Click here to read the next post in this series about the importance of data in CRM success.

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