Sep 27, 2021 5 min read

Why You Need an Agile CRM Implementation Strategy & Approach

Looking to improve internal productivity across customer relationship management? Here's how.

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John Chlopek

John Chlopek
Principal, Business Solutions Practice

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are the heart and soul of today’s enterprise. For many companies, CRM platforms are the single source of truth for storing customer data and managing sales pipeline, customer accounts, marketing, and all other revenue-based operations.

However, buying a CRM solution out-of-the-box may not be enough for your team because it may not allow you to address your unique business and team requirements – which can be detrimental to you operating efficiently and effectively.

In response, organizations work with CRM consulting and implementation companies like ourselves to implement an agile development methodology into their CRM environments that mirror the operational workflows and benefits their team members can provide.

Every company using agile methodology approaches it slightly differently. At Highland, we use the practices and ceremonies to create a collaborative, transparent atmosphere for our teams to work together on launching a more consistent, reliable platform. I'll shed light on Highland’s unique approach to agile and how it leads to successful CRM implementations and addresses your unique business needs.

What is Agile?

Agile software development is a philosophy and methodology used to garner tight feedback cycles and continuous improvement. Agile is an iterative process in which teams deliver work in small, but consumable, increments. This is different from more linear methodologies that require teams to fully develop and deploy software before going back and troubleshooting.

Agile doesn’t change what you’re doing; it just provides a different framework for approaching work. 

When applied to CRM projects, agile can break down operational silos through better communication and collaboration. It also helps eliminate many costly errors and delays, to bring greater value to your organization faster. 

Here are the key steps we use to properly and seamlessly apply agile to your CRM implementation plan and what happens in each one.

Phase 1: Meet and establish a process for change

During this phase, we have a full-day discovery session with your team. We dive into the nitty-gritty details of your business processes and how those might translate into your new CRM solution. Our goal is to focus on value-driven delivery and ensuring that we choose functionality that offers the most value to your service, marketing, project management, and sales teams.

Phase 2: Develop a plan 

After the discovery session, we outline each new change or feature your CRM software solution will have and prioritize them based on what will have the highest business value. We use a series of tracking and messaging tools to keep you informed in real-time of all to-do items and tasks. Once all teams agree on the set priorities and CRM features, we begin a focused, time-bound stream of work called a sprint. 

Phases 3–4: Design and develop CRM technology 

Sprint planning is the overview of the entire CRM implementation roadmap. This process is highly iterative with us building and you reviewing our work on a regular basis. It’s tightly interwoven with testing and evaluation to ensure we reach originally set goals.

Our team breaks out the process into stages with milestones, including:

  • Workflow automation = Change manual, time-consuming tasks into an automated, standardized marketing, service, and sales process model.

  • Data migration = Grouping all customer information across tools and spreadsheets into an all-in-one rolled up customer profile view.

  • Dashboard creation = Create multi-level views of metrics and tracked KPI's, helping service, marketing, and sales management teams better forecast for the future.

Phase 5–6: Test and evaluate new CRM system 

We always conduct functional, stress, performance, usability, integration, and acceptance testing multiple times to confirm the solution works properly.

The agile framework we use allows us to first test with someone on our team, not involved in the project. If successful, we will share with you for final review and testing. We always want to give you full transparency into what we are working on to eliminate surprises and tackle issues as they arise. 

When all features are tested and complete, all customizations are moved to the final version of your CRM, and we begin the last steps of the implementation project.

Phase 7: Go-live and CRM user training

Now, we're ready for go-live, CRM training, and onboarding. Once the system goes live, we train all end users on your new CRM platform. Our team leads virtual and in-person training sessions to make sure you get the most out of your new technology. We typically cover techniques like custom field filtering, searching, and how to use the mobile app.

In this process, we are extremely attentive to engagement and user adoption, because we want to make sure everyone – marketing teams, support teams, sales reps, and more – are comfortable with the new system. 

Through our agile process, testing and analysis never ends. We constantly test and get client feedback in order to build the best technology possible, ultimately ensuring that your CRM is reaching critical business goals: enhanced customer experiences, customer retention, lead conversion, and more.

Have questions about CRM implementation processes or our CRM servicesContact us and see how we can find the right CRM system for you.