Is it time to update your CRM system?

by Chase Kanaly – May 2015

How Do You Know it’s Time?

Answering these five questions can help you know if it’s time to update your CRM system.

  1. Are we fully utilizing our current CRM system?
  2. Have we researched new systems?
  3. Do we have the budget?
  4. Is the new system easy to train?
  5. Can we upgrade the system and minimize interruptions in sales?

Preparation

After conducting research and testing software trials, your team has finally come to the conclusion to upgrade your CRM software. From a technology and marketing standpoint, the decision is clear you are taking the correct step forward. Now comes the most important task: making the switch. The departments that relied so heavily upon the outdated software are now going to be thrust into this new system with no training and no concept of what changes are in order. Unless you do something first.

A few months ago, we faced this exact situation as we transitioned from Microsoft CRM Dynamics 2011 to Microsoft CRM Dynamics 2013. We researched, read relevant blogs[ref]Here’s a good one outlining changes from MS Dynamics CRM 2011 to 2013[/ref], and worked together in our Business Strategy and Analytics Team to sell the sales and sponsorship departments on the new system. Note: Department heads look for key words and evidence of  “sales efficiency” and “improved data quality” when hearing the pitch to switch to an upgraded CRM system.

Deployment

Our CRM developer guided us through the process on the IT and deployment side. Based on our experience, these five tips can help make the transition as smooth as possible:

  1. Focus on preparing, anticipating, and responding to questions from the other departments.
  2. Select CRM power users from each department or area to help champion the new CRM system.
  3. Meet with each power user one-on-one to let them beta test the new system and navigate through the changes.
  4. Schedule times during individual weekly department meetings to present and train on the updated system features.
  5. Focus on gaining the trust and cooperation of all departments by searching for more opportunities and ideas to increase efficiency & effectiveness in each department.

Upgrading

After you complete the steps above, it’s time to upgrade the system. It is imperative to find a weekend in which you can shut down your team’s use of CRM in order for the upgrade to be successful.  We were fortunate enough to upgrade during a three day weekend. This gave us plenty of time to test and ensure the system would be ready for all users prior to launching Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. Before any representatives access the new system, the system administrator should test out the new system.During the next several weeks, it is vital that the system administrator provide follow up training and consistent on-the-floor support.

Keys to Your Upgrade

  1. Make a plan – Set up a timeline that announces and clearly identifies the necessary steps needed for the upgrade. Consider all parties affected: the end users, your team’s IT department, and your CRM developer.
  2. Identify specific users from the various departments that will champion the new system. (Power Users)
  3. Create transparency with all parties affected by the upgraded CRM system.
  4. Develop a training manual that explains how to properly use the CRM system.
  5. Keep training short and simple.
  6. Follow up with individuals meetings with all end users when necessary.

If you have other helpful tips on how you have managed CRM system changes and upgrades, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below or contact me directly.

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