Driving growth is pretty much the “why” behind everything we do in business. Of course, as we experience the glory of increased success we are faced with new challenges around supporting our “bigger and better.” Enter the unavoidable CRM or PRM discussion.
Whether you’re upgrading your current infrastructure (which for many is a sophisticated set of excel spreadsheets – you know who you are), or you’re planning to implement a new platform, there are many variables to consider. Many of which bring on anxiety as we stress over balancing a new [full time] portal evaluation job alongside our already long list of to-dos’.
But as the saying goes, no pain - no gain! Good news for you is that we’ve done our fair share of CRM and PRM implementations with technology companies over the years. Not to mention our own in-house shift, twice. From assessments, to configuration, execution, training, support and maintenance, we’ve seen and done it all.
Here are five key lessons learned to prepare you for the inevitable.
All systems go!
A huge part of what drives CRM and PRM system value is their ability to integrate with other tools you use today or plan to use in the future. As a first step, you must discuss any required“hooks” with your internal line of business managers and teams before engaging with a platform vendor. Then you must confirm – without a shadow of a doubt – that any candidate solution can not only “play nice” but seamlessly integrate with your enablement tools like Salesforce or marketing automation platforms.
Doing so, very early on, will not only help prevent the three I’s: issues, interruptions, and irritability. It will also serve to sidestep delays and ultimately help you deliver a positive user experience.
Use it or lose it
Typically, out-of-the-box CRM or PRM solutions have a large à la carte menu of add-ons. Some will be integral, some you can do without. When vetting options, you’ll have a good idea of the best configuration for your needs. But it’s not enough to simply have access to the tools.
You will need a practical demonstration of the system using real-world examples, ideally with data, configuration and context similar to your environment and ecosystem, as opposed to a generic version of the platform. Stand firm on your request to experience a walk-thru that resembles the experience you plan to deploy. This key success factor will not only assure your current needs but confirm you can scale for growth.
One step forward - no steps backwards
There’s always plenty to do when implementing a new CRM or PRM. From configuration and setup to training and roll out, both your internal stakeholders and your platform vendor resources must be aligned. Discuss in detail your target launch plan and work together to map a specific project timeline. Include deliverables, owners, time commitments, resource bandwidth considerations, dependencies, and potential issues or pitfalls.
Keep in mind other internal activities, events, training, etc. that could impact schedules. And don’t forget about time zones especially if you have personnel across the globe who must participate to achieve necessary approvals along the way. Mapping out your plan and securing stakeholder buy-in ahead of time will assure you won’t have to work too aggressively or too slowly, both of which can result in unrealistic expectations or worse, unmet milestones.
Support. Support. Support
A new CRM or PRM platform roll out is a learning process that requires time and attention. Staff must be trained and that typically includes onboarding assistance from development. Training too early on a demo system with irrelevant information can cause pitfalls when the team forgets details of how to use it and endless calls to the help desk later.
Ask questions upfront to discover what type of training is offered and where it best fits in the timeline. Ensure understanding for your environment and request relevant changes based on your user expectations. It’s key to establish ongoing support and understand what, if any, future investment will be required for system changes. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should be reviewed in depth and agreed upon before making any final platform selection.
It isn’t over until… well, actually... it’s never over
Understanding the ongoing platform management needs, and preparing before roll out will ensure changes and additions can be delivered quickly. If there’s any degree of customization within the platform, unless you have bandwidth and resources available to maintain the system, managed or professional services will be needed.
If this is not addressed upfront, it will become urgent relatively quickly as soon as you need an add or change. Invest in special services; either an organization like Channel Maven, the platform developers or a combination of both who are on call to help navigate and implement updates or facilitate upgrades and add-ons to meet your expectations.
Channel Maven has helped Vendors of all sizes to assess and choose the best CRM or PRM solutions for their organizations as well as guide implementation, provide training and ongoing support. If you’re thinking about implementing a new platform, contact us we’re happy to help!