CRM Implementation Project Roadmap for the Small Business

Updated: January 01, 2012

Having worked with small business executives and owners and their employess for the last 16 years - and this applies to the big businesses we have worked with too - we have seen an alarming trend in the decision making process when it comes to systems procurement. We specialize specifically in contact, customer management and so called 'CRM' (customer relationship management) systems, but I have no basis to believe that the same behaviors do not apply in decisions made in other areas - in fact I have witnessed it time in again across the board - it is a cultural thing.

One common CRM system evaluation 'process' goes like this:

  • Someone in the organization gets fed up with the limitations in the current process - how things are done along with whatever software they may have been saddled with (typical examples being Microsoft Outlook or Excel or QuickBooks or a 9 year old version of some various contact manager).
  • Not realizing that the underlying issue is one of culture and existant process in the organization, they conclude that if only they had 'better' software, things would improve.
  • On their own they conduct some 'research' (you know, read Amazon reviews or the like, maybe download a demo version), ultimately finding a system that they think is the answer to the problems the organization faces with its sales and customers.
  • Then they call the local reseller/VAR/consultant for the system selected as per the web site.
    The consultant - if he/she is a 'consultant' - will ask questions about current process, goals, things that are working, things that are not working, budget range, etc.
  • At this point, the 'project champion' will get quite, realizing that his/her aspirations for 'improvement' are looking slim indeed and usually says: 'I think we need your solution. You will need to talk to our IT department and/or my boss to get the information you're asking for.' (Of course, neither IT nor BOSS have heard anything about this and things pretty much flame out from there as no one likes to feel they didn't know what was going on...)
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