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5 Tips for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Implementation Governance After a Merger

So your company acquired a new business (or you’ve been acquired yourself!). What does that mean for your CRM?

Two young women look at two monitors in an office, smiling.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Imagine this: you’re the Vice President of Sales at Acme Co. You rolled out a newly configured SugarCRM software build to your field sales team last year. Adoption was strong: opportunities and leads are logged, and everyone uses the successful CRM implementation for their weekly check-ins. You have better visibility of your opportunity revenue forecasts than ever before, thanks to this new system.

This year, your firm acquired another organization that runs a related business. They did not have a CRM (or perhaps not the right CRM), so you want to bring them into your existing CRM to help with their business needs. But, their overall business processes and sales cycle is a little different because they often provide product samples, something you rarely do. Their products are a little different: your widgets vary only in color and size. Theirs vary by color, size, and materials. They prefer monthly reports, while your team works toward quarterly goals.  All these factors can cause a level of discouragement toward workflow automation, and thus team buy-in.

"How will you decide how to use the CRM going forward as a combined team?"

Enter: CRM Governance

CRM Governance is a fancy way to say, “Who, how, and when will we make changes to our CRM solutions going forward?”

As Director of our CRM Practice at Highland, I have identified five key strategies for implementing a successful CRM Governance Model:

1. Share the vision amongst CRM users

Make sure everyone in your organization understands what strategic initiatives the CRM is designed to support. This includes more than just your Sales and Marketing team members. Project Managers, IT, operations, finance — all these folks should be able to articulate your Sales Vision and how having the best CRM software configuration helps achieve it. If you have a third-party implementation partner, share the vision with them as well.

A team of climbers hiking towards the summit | Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash

2. Share the timeline for the CRM implementation process

Most strategic plans are framed in a timeline of two to five years. Your customer experience platform will also evolve over this timeline. Articulate for yourself and all your supporting team what changes are expected when. Define dependencies and major business events.

A sample timeline for CRM Governance, showing three groups, the CRM Governance Team/Review Board, the Enterprise CRM Admins, and the Highland Implementation Partner. Meeting Cadence for all three is 2x - 4x per year. Monthly for the Gov. Team and CRM Admins. Every 1-4 weeks for CRM Admins and Highland.

A sample timeline for CRM Governance | Image provided by Elizabeth Mankowski

3. Delegate and empower your CRM implementation team

Identify one or two CRM administrators within your organization who are responsible for executing the vision and timeline. Include a representative from each business unit (both the original and the newly acquired). Check-in with them periodically, but free yourself from the day-to-day management of CRM enhancements.

"Note: Thinking about the “jobs” your team members are trying to accomplish can help make the process of adapting to a new CRM governance structure much easier. More on that here:"

4. Gather the right expertise for the CRM Project

Identify representatives from your current sales team and the newly acquired team to participate on a joint team or governance board. Pull in additional resources as needed such as customer journey analysts and other team members beyond just salespeople. When deciding who should be involved, it can be helpful to create a system map showing how your CRM will connect to other essential existing and new technology systems within your organization before, during, and after rollout:

CRM System Map showing the Team Selling Managing Forecasts and Commissions

CRM System Map - Created by Tyler Etters

Are you ready to integrate your CRM strategy with a marketing automation platform to scale your digital campaigns? Then call a meeting with your CRM administrators and the marketing experts. Promote transparency around expectations, scope, timeline, budget, and any other project variables.

When considering integration between your CRM and ERP systems, bring your IT leaders to the discussion. Articulate your vision, then let your experts craft a solution proposal. Scheduling regular meetings during the solution definition phase, as well as throughout the project, will provide checkpoints to validate that everyone is still on the same path, moving toward the same vision.

5. Ensure data is updated regularly

Leveraging the most value from your CRM rarely happens by taking a one-and-done approach. Just as your product offerings continue to evolve through research and development, so too should your CRM platform, because outdated information can lead to a loss of business or engagement.

You'll want to make sure your CRM data system is meeting new market conditions, new product offerings, company merger changes, company KPIs updates, and staffing shifts. You can do this by setting regular channels and a cadence for receiving feedback from the field sales reps on the front lines, who use the system the most. They can provide insights you may miss and potential improvements in customer retention, customer support, functionality, or CRM features overall. When your sales processes and overall metrics grow and change, your CRM should reflect those changes in a timely manner. Scheduling regular meetings with all groups involved in CRM governance, implementation, and usage will also help everyone keep focus on the strategic vision and over-arching timeline.

Crop fields and wind turbines in Mölsheim, Germany | Photo by Karsten Würth (@karsten.wuerth) on Unsplash

Managing a CRM requires a real commitment from both its administrators and champions, as well as its day-to-day users. Approaching CRM governance as a team and being ready to adapt will allow you to continue gaining value from your investment, stay organized and connected as a team, and maintain effectiveness as a business and customer data intelligence operator.

Got questions about post-merger CRM governance? Contact Highland or send an email to Elizabeth Mankowski, Director of Highland’s CRM Practice.

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