Once you're positive about implementing a new CRM or modernising your existing solution, you will need a team with a strong CRM development expertise. If you don't have such a team in-house, you can resort to a popular alternative - get a reliable consulting partner who will make sure you choose the right technology and get the most out of it.
However, if you’ve never worked with an external team, you may feel reluctant to engage in such cooperation because of numerous concerns. For instance, you may find it hard choosing a consultant out of hundreds of offers, you fear investing a huge amount of money and get zero or negative ROI, or have little idea of what CRM consulting is.
In this article, we’ve decided to address the worries regarding a CRM consulting flow and asked CRM consultants from Itransition
to describe the consulting stages and explain what deliverables you can get during each.Stage 1. Formulating business goals
This stage comes prior to contacting a potential consulting partner, where you should meet with your stakeholders and formulate business goals you want to achieve with a CRM. If you skip this stage or go through it carelessly, you may end up with a well-developed yet useless tool.
Make sure to think long-term — you don’t want to implement a complex system to solve just today’s needs, you want it to grow with your company and adapt to changes as they happen. For instance, currently you may need a CRM for your sales team exclusively but if you plan to expand it to your customer service in the future, you need to have the system able to scale. What you get
Relevant benchmarks to measure the project results against. Stage 2. Building a business case
It may seem that the actual CRM implementation is the most crucial stage of the entire process but it’s not fully true. The success of a final product, particularly in the customer’s eyes, strongly depends on a well-drafted business case. It means that you need to sit down with your consulting partner, talk through all the stages, and include specific points in a commercial proposal.
First of all, you need to lay out your goals and requirements and describe desirable outcomes. Make sure to quantify the expected outcomes as much as you can even if they are too subjective to attach a number to them. It will help your partner to check the viability of your idea and define the necessary resources along with a preliminary budget. If you see that the project is viable and give it the green light, you will proceed to assigning stakeholders and responsibilities to different project roles.
Your partner may want to interrogate your stakeholders to understand how the system is going to be used, what features should be prioritized, what integrations will be needed, etc. Then the partner will divide the entire project into mini-projects with each covering one major task, like data migration, integrations, onboarding, etc. This will help draw the timeline and make the right decisions regarding the team size and required technologies. Then they will estimate the amount of person-hours needed for each mini-project and provide you with respective costs. What you get
A commercial proposal that will contain the following crucial parts:
Stage 3. Choosing a CRM platform
- The list of tasks broken down into mini-projects
- The technology stack
- The team composition
- Project management principles
- The pricing breakdown
- A detailed project timeline
This is usually done when defining the tech stack in a business case but we would like to mention it separately, particularly for the cases of platform-based CRM implementation.
Even if you’ve already decided on a specific platform, the consulting team will review its pros and cons for your business and advise you on other best-matching systems. Then you will discuss the platform’s functional requirements and its customization scope, like the need for data migration, in-built features you will use, necessary integrations, and more. What you get
Confidence in your choice of the right CRM platform for your business needs.Stage 4. Implementing and deploying a CRM
This stage is the most exciting one as you will watch your ideas turn into a real product by means of various configurations and customizations. Iteration after iteration, you will watch the architecture being set, data migrated, necessary data sources connected, processes automated, and the CRM experience becoming user-friendly.
Each mini-project will be broken down into the following phases:
What you get
- Discovery: the description of each task
- Building: development of the solution according to the description
- Testing: making sure that the solution works as intended in different conditions
- Feedback: presenting the solution to the customer to get an approval and proceed to the next task
Completed mini-projects leading to a fully implemented, ready-to-use CRM.Stage 5. Onboarding
As half of the implementation success depends on the adoption rate, CRM consulting companies can provide onboarding services for users and admins during both the early project stages (by providing access to sandboxes) and the post-implementation period. Such training should be role-based, i.e. tailored to each department that will use the system, and it should cover not only available functionality but also the methods of using it efficiently for their daily activities. It’s also possible to request an onboarding program for newcomers. What you get
Your users from different departments will know how to work in the system and utilize it efficiently to deal with regular tasks. Your newly hired employees will have access to a role-based training program for efficient CRM adoption.Stage 6. Post-live support
The consulting team will oversee your CRM performance and adoption rates for an agreed period of time in order to make necessary adjustments and make sure the system meets your requirements. They can audit your CRM regularly and augment your team with support reps and admins.What you get
A safe launch of your new CRM with all the errors and performance glitches fixed in time.Summing it up
Cooperating with a CRM consulting partner doesn’t mean parting with a huge amount of money while having no control over your product. With professional CRM consultants, you define the level of control on your own and get all the tools necessary for having a competitive product shaped according to your requirements.