Enterprise CRM: Implementation Lessons Learned & 10 Takeaways (Part 2)

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6. Transition to Business as Usual (BAU): 

Change is constant, so is noise. Adopt DevOps, Agile and Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) principles from day 1.

Post-implementation technical debt is inevitable after the large waterfall-like delivery stages and new requests can very quickly lead to further “scope creep” and noise within the organisation. While cost is still king, negotiating a post-implementation support contract will not only provide upfront visibility on spending, but also apply constraints in terms of how much can be onboarded within a sprint. Not everything may fit into sprints, therefore change control principles such as seeking business cases and justifications in order to fund additional requests outside of your support retainer, should still apply.

No matter how impactful or complex, every requirement belongs in your backlog so that you operate transparently, maintain throughput credibility and suppress noise within the organisation – to facilitate the BAU journey of the delivery teams, senior users and business sponsors.

7. Don’t Chase Sophistication When It Comes to AI:

Most contemporary CRM platforms offer powerful built-in AI features. 

First, reach out for low-hanging fruits and focus on delivery through simple built-in AI features to primarily improve the everyday lives of your Customers and the Sales teams. AI-trained bots can save organisations days of admin work and can prevent many customer queries from being escalated to cases in the first instance.

Salesforce and Dynamics365 offer a wide range of AI-backed productivity features for optimising sales pipeline management. Although not considered an enterprise player until recently, HubSpot is a also prime example – in terms of those who have employed chatbots across multiple functions, ranging from lead generation to customer services.

8. Data Sovereignty & Privacy by Design:

Familiarise yourself with the relevant and applicable privacy and data protection laws.

This is an ever-evolving entity and especially a minefield for globally connected organisations. At the end of the day, cloud platforms and SaaS are key enablers of interoperability, scalability and global mobility, but the primary processing point of your data can only span 1 jurisdiction and 1 SaaS service endpoint.

Choose wisely and be prepared to take calculated risks as an organisation if siloing your data is not an option, or if the SaaS CRM platform operator’s cloud services are non-existent in a territory where you are obliged to keep the respective resident’s personal data. Always seek evidence on the prospective suppliers’ (vendor and/or partner) current level of compliance with the governing laws and industry-specific regulations, if and where applicable.

9. Let The Web Forms Do The Hard Work for You:

1st party data is not only the most accurate, but also is cheaper to obtain.

Unlike in the old days, when CRM systems were treated like closed boxes, contemporary CRM systems can be configured to interact with the customers via web and mobile touchpoints. The data, therefore, is more easily modifiable by external users and customers, owing to the fast evolution of complementary marketing automation features, portal extensions and Master Data Management (MDM) capabilities of modern CRM platforms.

Make use of features such as lead generation, progressive profiling, content marketing and customer portals in order to ease the burden of maintaining customer data by allowing your customers to access and update their data.

10. Support: Partner vs. In-House

There’s No Right Strategy as to How Organisations Should Manage Their CRM Practice.

It can be in-house, outsourced or hybrid. Understand your geographical footprint and operational uptime requirements along with the potential cost you might incur, in the event of downtimes. Factor in seasonality, sales peaks and apply / enforce “Service Levels – SLAs” accordingly. Business continuity will very much depend on your overall uptime and your ability to recover from outages with the resources you already have or can retain. Therefore, choose whichever strategy works best for your organisation.

It should be noted that outcompeting the partner practices or vendors will remain a challenge if the desire is to build in-house capabilities and teams. This is because most end-user organisations are not necessarily talent magnets and contract / consultancy day rates – for architects, project managers or technical leads – simply yield higher income, flexibility and diverse industry expertise in the short-to-medium term. 

To conclude, the path to a successful enterprise CRM implementation is paved with many pitfalls. The promises of the Cloud and the SaaS can be easily overshadowed by the ever-expanding cost base due to increasing usage, scale, and the appetite for integrating more interfaces and touchpoints to cope with the realities of a digital enterprise. More so, platform licence types and add-ons capacity models will likely evolve along the way – often to the vendor’s advantage.

The flipside is that almost every enterprise-grade SaaS CRM platform out there is merely a subscription away and is equipped with robust out-of-the-box workflows and automations, which are shaped by the best practices and feedbacks from thousands of end-user organisations. In simpler terms, the modern CRM platform is hardwired to introduce rapid deployment, change and improvement at great scale. In the right hands, it can be a vessel versatile enough to onboard “transformation-grade” cargo.

Contrary to high implementation failure rates advertised by the cynics, you can come out the other side of any large enterprise CRM project in one piece, no matter how long or complex the undertaking might be. I will cover more on the subject of enterprise transformation in another post. Until then don’t hesitate to contact me via LinkedIn if you want to share your own experiences with me.

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