I’m part of a delivery team that implements SugarCRM systems at Highland Solutions. One might think that this job is made up of tactics — gathering requirements, building the solution, testing, and finally launching a system. This is true.
What also happens along the way is that we find ourselves in conversations that lead our clients to change the way they work with one another. We’re not just fixed on the nuts and bolts of the system. Building a well-functioning CRM requires talking to every department, and these projects allow us to see the complete picture of an organization.
Designing a Great CRM Through Collaboration
Companies often struggle for years before making the decision to implement a CRM. They could be working without a CRM, limping along with out-of-date systems or navigating disparate systems brought in through company acquisitions.
In order for a CRM implementation to solve these problems, we need the input of major stakeholders from across the organization. During a CRM project, the group that is gathered from the client-side includes representatives from various departments or business units who can act as subject matter experts for their respective areas.
Highland ends up facilitating critical meetings between business units who have not had the opportunity to communicate regularly. As we facilitate meetings throughout the project, asking the “how” questions often brings us to the “why,” as well. When asked to build “X” to meet the project requirements, our discussions also expose other needs, which can be tangential to “X” but just as critical for a company’s success. A few examples include:
- When building a Leads module, realizing that no one really knows what classifies as a Lead or when to qualify it, sparking an important conversation for a sales team about how they define success.
- Realizing that closing an Opportunity should trigger a task for a department that is integral to one business unit in their sales process and has not been considered another business unit, launches a discussion about how effectively teams are collaborating and sharing knowledge.
- Recognizing that a process works great for one business unit but doesn’t work for another, leading to a conversation about process efficiency and consistency across the organization.
Because we get to know the ins and outs of every business unit, we become a valuable resource to our clients in these discussions. I’ve had several clients tell me during a project, “You know our business better than we do.”
CRM & Change Management
By breaking down silos between departments, we can get a global view of the business and solve problems more strategically. The process of implementing a CRM provides a platform for these discussions to happen, and Highland is available to offer suggestions along the way.
By the end of a CRM project, it’s almost like we’ve become a member of the client’s team at the management level. We facilitate meetings between leadership, retain intricate knowledge of the organization, and can recommend strategic solutions based on our broad knowledge of the client’s business. The biggest compliment we’ve received from a client at the end of a project is hearing that they miss the regular meetings we used to have because it was their only opportunity to connect with people across the company.
Designing and implementing a new CRM is always going to be a heavy lift for clients. It is a process that reveals many important and difficult conversations, all of which take time and can force business leaders out of their comfort zones. As a strategic partner to our clients, it’s our job to help them manage the change that inevitably comes as a part of this process. By collaborating with a great partner, clients can end up with much more than a technology solution at the end of their CRM implementation project: they get a better understanding of their own organization’s workflow, needs, and processes.