Your business doesn't stand still. Neither should your CRM.
Every time your business adds a new product or service, opens a new office, changes pricing or improves a process, your CRM should change with it. At its best, your CRM is a living, breathing reflection of best practice or, "the way we do things here." The system you built with your initial implementation will form a strong foundation and should constantly evolve and improve, but it doesn't have to stop there.
Now you've got momentum. What's next?
Once you've successfully navigated your first project, you've now got a system delivering tangible commercial wins. If you're the owner of your business, this should give you the confidence to continue your CRM journey. If you're the CRM product owner, you've now shown your internal stakeholders you've got what it takes to get CRM working in your organisation. There are typically three kinds of further-phase projects you may consider:
Integrated systems: with the core CRM setup, you may choose to focus on connecting your other key business systems to your CRM. This is an especially good option when you've got critical systems functioning completely independently from your core CRM.
Potential projects may include integrating your:
Project management system
Business intelligence application
Document management system
Additional layers: your first project handled the basic process, however the specific functions within that process are still happening manually. Building and automating these functions on top of your existing process doesn't bring any new user groups into your CRM environment (marketing or service teams, for example), however they add significant further value and efficiencies to existing users.
Potential projects may include:
Quote and proposal generation
Contract generation and eSignature
Business card scanners
Omni-channel service case management
Core business process automation
New horizons: this is where you bring entire new functions of your business into the CRM environment. These projects will likely involve a different makeup of project team members from the new relevant departments.
Potential projects may focus on deploying business applications for:
Customer-facing mobile apps
Customer or channel partner community
Field service management system
Time sheeting and resource planning
What to tackle first?
Focus on the area/s of your business where the most users or customers are experiencing the most pain. You can also consider running multiple projects concurrently, if your internal project team has the resource to handle it. Whichever project or projects you decide to put at the top of the list, remember that the process we've covered in this guide remains the same. There are no corners to be cut. Every new project needs to be driven by well-considered business requirements. It needs the right project team, technology, consulting partner and system design. Then it must be successfully implemented, rolled out and continuously improved to empower users and influence customers.
A final thought:
The greatest competitive advantage SMEs have over their larger competitors is the ability to compete on customer experience.
In reality, the journey from your status quo of disparate systems and manual processes to a CRM that's running your entire business on an integrated, customer-centric platform is a never ending one. The opportunities a full-platform CRM provides across the customer journey from marketing, through to sales, service and beyond are immense. By building these functions on your core CRM platform, you can seamlessly weave every business process and customer interaction together to differentiate and win on customer experience.
When everyone in your organisation is working on a single system that's constantly being expanded and improved upon, you're able to adapt faster, onboard new employees rapidly, exceed your customers' expectations and outmanoeuvre your competition at every turn.
Your larger competitors trying to deploy CRM across many hundreds or even thousands of users have their work cut out for them. Sure, they have the budgets and resources. They also have a lot of competing stakeholders with different agendas and a whole lot of users they have to get on board with the processes they design.
Speaking from personal experience, implementing CRM in our first business 10 years ago allowed us to take what our customers loved about us and build that "essence" into our CRM. With a common understanding of "the way we do things here," we were able to scale up without the wheels falling off and we've never looked back.
I encourage you to dream big and take this journey. It's not fast, cheap or easy. But it will transform your business.
It's easy for a CRM to become an expensive cloud-rolodex. CRM systems only deliver on their transformational potential when everyone from CEO to the sales floor are actually using the system in the right way. Below are the keys to getting everyone on the CRM bus from the outset:
You need a document signed. Maybe it's a contract. A disclosure statement. It could be anything. You attach it to an email and send it to your client. Your client prints it out and completes it. They sign it, scan it, attach it to an email and send it back. You print it and give it to your admin team. They double enter the data back into your system and file it. What a horrendous waste of time.