Having spent the last ten years of my life working on implementing Client Relationship Management systems for Registered Investment Advisors, I can say there is no one answer, no cookie cutter approach, no silver bullet to the question “What makes a successful CRM Implementation”. There are, however, consistent components that drive successful user adoption:
Know Your Business Needs
The most critical aspect of any CRM implementation is to determine how your company is going to use the CRM. A CRM can be a very powerful tool for developing new relationships, maintaining current client base and streamlining operations processes. Prior to any new implementation, a review of the current system should be done. What in the current system is working well? What needs improvement? What is missing? This exercise needs to be done with each department within your company. This will give your company the starting point of the “Must Have List” and “Wish List”. This leads to the next component.
A knowledgeable Implementation Team
Your company must have an implementation team that has stakeholders at all levels with knowledge of all business units. If there is not a member of senior management with a stake to making the implementation a success, then it probably won’t be successful. On the other hand, if only senior management is driving the move then inertia will take effect and within a few years you will be looking to move to another CRM. The best implementation teams have people from all aspects of the company on the team with one mid level person dedicated to the implementation. This person, working with the CRM vendor, ensures questions are answered quickly and the project is moving forward.
Determine what needs to be in the CRM
No CRM has everything for everyone out of the box. Sure there will be names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, but what else do your employees need to see for them to be successful in their jobs. Customizations are inevitable. There are two questions – “What are your needs/wishes?” and “What are you willing to pay for them?” The question of what needs to be in the CRM and what can live in other systems is crucial analysis during implementation. Correct placement and views of data makes for ease-of-use and knowledge at someone’s “fingertips”. If something is critical to one of your business units, it is worth the cost for a successful implementation.
Once the CRM is implemented, then immediate company-wide adoption is vital. Solid training to explain how the CRM will work with current work flow, new designs of work flow and ease-of-use is essential to the end-user. Training should be in short sessions of no longer than 1 ½ hours, starting with overviews, then break-out sessions for specific functionality.
Choose the Right CRM Vendor for Your Industry
Most companies mistakenly think that choosing the right CRM vendor is the first priority. If the other components have not been addressed, then even the best CRM vendor can’t ensure a successful implementation. However, a CRM vendor with an understanding of your industry can be the difference between success and failure. They must have extensive experience working with RIAs. This does not mean that the approach to every implementation is the same. The opposite is true. You need to identify your company’s needs but your employees shouldn’t need to spend precious implementation hours explaining how things work differently in RIAs than in other industries. At UNAPEN, we ask questions to assist your company in looking at every angle and give different options that may not have been reviewed in the past. This approach is not the fastest or the cheapest, but it will give your company a CRM implementation that will be successful.
Over the last decade, CRMs have become an integral part of core RIA infrastructure. Its uses, look and usability vary widely with each CRM and RIA. If your company is thinking of changing CRMs or optimizing the use of your current CRM, then I highly recommend delving into the 5 components that have been outlined in this article. They will be the key to the future success of your CRM and your business.
Joan (Eckland) Walker is a co-founder of UNAPEN and a member of the Board of Directors. Her primary positions are Treasurer and liaison to corporate counsel. Prior to co-founding UNAPEN, Joan served as an independent consultant for Dreyfus, a New York based mutual fund company, reviewing and documenting changes to operational workflows and system enhancements. For more information visit www.unapen.com
UNAPEN is a member of the ByAllAccounts Expert Consultant Network.
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