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Lisa wrote a blog recently on her 10 things to consider when choosing a CRM, so I thought I would follow up with a set of project management tips to help with CRM / ATS projects.

We work with a lot of clients who are looking to upgrade / migrate their CRM / ATS and these are the sorts of things we flag as critical to the project:

  1. Training.  Ask these questions: who needs it and who is developing / running it? Where will the training be held?  what level do you need to pitch the training at?when is the best time to run it?
  2. Data transfer. You have a number of choices when deciding what data you want to migrate: all, some and none – have you considered the outcome / cost of each option?
  3. Who’s system is it? This could very well be a business process project, not a software one, so you should be running the show. It is likely that your software provider does not understand your business process and in-depthly as you do, so make sure that you are in control of the outcome and the impact of the project.
  4. Cloud or Server? Take both options seriously.  And don’t be suspicious of cloud – it can make a real difference to your processes and bottom line. It’s totally safe and in many cases may be safer that your current setup. Consider the total cost of the ownership of your CRM (IT staffing, servers, maintenance update etc…), not just the software.
  5. Is the business on board? Is this an IT sponsored project?  If so, we have seen many of these where the business just isn’t bought in and it can cause all sorts of issues – including lengthy, painful and expensive roll outs that do not achieve the objective of the users.
  6. Project management. Who is running the project? Do they have clout? Do they get all of the features of the system and the functions of the process that it should be supporting / driving?
  7. Do you have a plan B? You have to plan for the system not being delivered on time, the kit not working etc… We have seen projects double in cost due to a lack of planning (not projects we have managed I hasten to add).
  8. Budget. Horrid word… but have you planned a budget, and what does it include… and will there be ongoing costs? How much is the project saving the business (it is possible to save money as a result of change you know…)  Keep a realistic eye on costs and manage them proactively.
  9. Who is the ultimate champion of the change? If it’s not the highest level, it’ll have less of a take up, take longer to deliver and invariably have less impact.
  10. Timeframe. Have you set realistic timeframes? If changes need to be made to your system that are in line with business process or legislation, you will be reliant on the software provider to deliver these changes, and they will have other roll outs / clients to manage. Give yourself plenty of time, as their time is not your time to manage.

Our business exists because of technology, web and social media projects, which inevitably distract businesses from their day to day purpose. We see projects that need active project management suffering from someone who was free at the time, who knows a little about the project being put in charge, and this can be fatal to the project and the reputation of the business.

Bear in mind that the reason that you are making a change should be a positive one: speedier processes, monitorable activity, happier clients and staff… so make sure that the project doesn’t just focus on the software… it’s about the process and the people too.

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