CRM Critical Success Factor 4: The Right CRM Partner

Are you thinking of looking outside of your own organisation for help with your CRM?  If so, consider what sort of CRM partner or company you would like to work with.

Why look for help?

 To avoid the pitfalls and BENEFIT from others’ experiences to achieve a better SOLUTION.” – Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

Choosing the Right CRM Partner

Internal v. External

Implementing CRM is not something companies do many times, therefore it is unlikely they will have CRM implementation expertise in-house.  You may have CRM users and you may have great technical resources in house; however, you are unlikely to have CRM expertise that has been through the process of CRM implementation numerous times.  Some things to consider:

  • Multifunctional Skills – Do you have the right mix of technical, business analysis and project management skills to implement CRM in-house?
  • Time – Can your team allocate sufficient time to achieve an integrated CRM implementation without impacting on other day-to-day activities?
  • Customisation – Do you have skilled developers for more complex customisations?


Likeability Factor

Look for a partner that you feel you will be able to get along with. Obvious? Not always.  Although you are hopefully focusing on your “Day One System,” your overall project and need for support will last over a long time, the life of the system itself.  Whilst you may not need the same level of support during that lifetime, it would be good to know that you can get on with that partner and call on them as and when required and that you are happy to do so.

Industry Focus

You may want to look for a partner with a focus on your particular industry. Somebody who has already put CRM into a similar organisation within your industry may have their own intellectual property – products or code or modules – that they can bring to your project and give you significant benefit from all of their experience.

User Adoption

User adoption is not a Critical Success Factor itself, but it should be seen as a measure of success.  If you review discussions about failed CRM implementations, lack of user adoption is often cited as the reason.  No, this is a symptom, not a cause of failure.  This system failed to deliver what the users needed to do their jobs, caused them more work than they had before.  In most cases, the needs of the users were not understood, and the aims of the company were not properly communicated.

This is the sort of situation a well experienced CRM practitioner will be able to help you avoid.

What Makes a Good CRM Partner?

A good CRM partner should bring value to the project.  Knowing how far it is reasonable to customise the solution, versus looking for a proven, well supported third-party component or add-on to provide the function required.  They may have their own Intellectual Property (IP) in the form of code or an off the shelf module that supports a particular feature or functional requirement.

When looking for a partner, be that a CRM practice or an individual, think about the sort of person you want to work with.  It should be a partnership, so working with people you can get on with is important.

Do they have related industry experience, what is their pedigree, what do their current or previous customers say about them?  Look at the communities and see what comments are being made, or how active they are in those communities.

Finding the right partner will make a real difference in your project.

And Finally…Be Honest…

As the last word on this, and coming very much from a CRM partner perspective, be honest with the party you plan to work with.  Mutual respect and honesty will pay major dividends in the smoothness and overall success of the relationship and, therefore, the project.  Do right by a decent partner, and they will jump through hoops to get you where you need to go.

Now that you have read about four of the success factors providing a foundation for CRM technology, click here to read the final post in this series about the technology itself.

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