Documenting your CRM requirements (in 4 pages or less)

21 June, 2017


Before speaking to potential CRM providers, documenting your high-level requirements is critical. Going through this process has three main benefits:

  1. It ensures your project team are aligned from the outset
  2. It helps you get your bearings before speaking with CRM sales reps
  3. It gets potential CRM providers and consulting partners up to speed quickly

Although many large enterprises opt to define their requirements in detail up front (over say, a 100 page requirements document) and then ask vendors to respond to an RFP, we don't recommend this approach for smaller organisations (or for that matter, larger ones!). A concise 2 - 4 page document should get the key information across.

Here's a basic framework and some thought starters to help you document your high-level requirements:

What does your business do?

Create a brief profile of your business to set context, detailing your:

  • Value proposition
  • Range of products and services
  • Target market/s
  • Company size, geography and organisational structure
  • Roles within your business

What's led you to look at this project?

  • What's the current state? Describe your existing business systems, processes, and challenges
  • How is the current situation adversely impacting your users, company and customers?
  • Why now? What are the main business drivers for looking at this project?
  • How does this project relate to the wider goals of the organisation?

Outline the project

  • What's your focus area/s for the initial implementation? (e.g. sales, account management, customer service)
  • Will the system replace or integrate with existing systems?
  • What non-standard features or functions do you see as critical? (there's no point writing features that all systems will have like "the ability to access customer contact information." Focus on things like "integrates with our accounting package" or "automates processes using workflow automation.")
  • What do you see as the longer-term roadmap for CRM within the business?
  • Are there any considerations around Cloud versus on-premise? In our view, Cloud is the way to go here unless there are regulations for your industry requiring data to be stored on-shore

Describe your users

  • Who is the system for? (User profiles may include: sales managers, field technicians, inside sales reps, account managers etc.)

Then, for each user profile:

  • How many users will there be and what is the range of technical ability?
    What are their existing attitudes towards CRM?
  • What will the CRM allow users to do that they can't do now? For example, Will the system help them:
    • Work faster by automating manual processesGain better customer visibility and insight through integration
    • Work more effectively with their teams through collaboration
    • Provide a better customer experience with best-practice processes and rep-to-customer automated communication
    • Manage more effectively with reports and dashboards

What does success look like?

  • Imagine a well-designed and fully adopted system that's empowering your teams to do it "the right way" every time. How will this impact your users, company and customers?
  • What metrics would you track to measure success?

When defining your requirements, you often "don't know what you don't know" so it's important to keep an open mind. It's totally natural for requirements to evolve throughout the evaluation as you learn about functionality you never knew existed, or ways CRM can tackle your business problems you may not have considered.


Continue to the next post in this series: To integrate, or not to integrate