Pilot Programs Prove Positive for CRM

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: September 23, 2011

Pilot Programs Prove Positive for CRM

CRM implementation is widely regarded as a difficult endeavor. Employees tend to be resistant to change, and all sort of technical issues can pop up along the way that undermine the new systems. You can avoid a lot of these problems by setting up a pilot program for the CRM.

One of the most notable benefits to a pilot program is you can reduce the initial cost of the CRM implementation. It will help you determine the overall framework for the rollout and remove any steps that are unnecessary. You’ll also be able to discover any features that can be shed due to incompatibility or inefficiency.

You can also use the pilot program to discover bugs that are hidden within the CRM system. Your employees will be working with a controlled sample, so there will be fewer disruptions if something should go suddenly go wrong.

Another benefit of a CRM pilot program is that you can train employees who will later be used to train others. They will be an invaluable resource when people have questions about how to perform a particular task or solve a problem.

A CRM pilot program also a good opportunity to win over the ‘opinion makers’ at your small business. You can show them the benefits of the application and how it’s going to make their jobs easier. More than one CRM implementation has failed because a few vocal employees turned everyone against the software.

There are several things to keep in mind with a CRM pilot program, however:

You need to make sure that the CRM software is scalable. This will allow you to set a small sample size for the pilot program and ramp it up for the implementation. You can also have stages for the pilot program – you start out with five people, then bump it up to ten, and then to twenty. If the CRM vendor charges a lot of money for this service, you may want to look elsewhere.

You should also be flexible on the amount of time it will take to train your employees. You might expect it to take a few days, only to have it last several weeks or longer. This initial training will be key to the overall implementation of the CRM application, so try to be as patient as you can.

Finally, it’s important to listen to your employee’s feedback. If they think a specific aspect of the CRM application doesn’t work, find out why. You might be able to find a way around it or customize the system to meet your needs. Your employees are going to be the ones using the software every day, so it’s important that their concerns are sufficiently met.

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