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How to Select the Right CRM Implementation Partner?

One of the keys to successful deployment of a CRM system is choosing the right implementation partner.  A CRM primary deployment requires expert services regarding technical aspects of integration and consultation on the business aspects.

Consultants are responsible for providing inputs on the CRM system best suited for your business.  Needless to say, a consultant should not be attached to any vendor.  A good consultant should also be able to offer guidance about implementing the best practices.  The job of the integrator is to put into practice what the consultant, you and the vendor agree upon.

Integrators are responsible for actually deploying and setting up a system.  Consultants focus on the system’s impact on business processes.  Your implementation partner should help you run your systems according to your business needs and minimize instances where business processes have to be run to suit the software.

Before selecting a CRM tool, check the nature of issues that can possibly arise with that particular CRM tool.  Look up things like past implementation success rates for that tool and attributes that an integrator should possess to ensure smooth and on-time deployment.  Your integrator’s track record should be considered.  If you are considering a CRM deployment, it’s likely that it is with a view to resolving a business issue.  It could also be customer retention, lead management or adding to the customer base.  Work with collaborators that have had success in managing deployments in your industry under similar circumstances.

A CRM implementation can be an expensive affair, so do remember to negotiate.  Implementation experts and consultants are available at a fixed fee or on a time-bound fee structure.  If the implementation experts and consultants are two different parties, get them to agree on the way forward so that deployment can happen in a time-bound manner.  Your collaborators should be willing to help you with issues that may arise after the key deliverables have been achieved.

Consultants are known for making impressive pitches; do not hold back your questions.  Ideally, you should have prior information on the personnel that will be deputed for your project.  Get to know the people involved.  This will help in discussing deliverables and arriving at a strategy that will help achieve the deliverables.

Often selecting the implementation experts is the easier part of the job.  CRM consultants require greater consideration.  If your business strategy is well-defined and you are confident of your requirements and the role CRM is to play, a consultant’s services may not be required.

Often, your integrator may fail while your consultant may succeed.  Harmony between the two is an important aspect in the project’s success.  For this reason, companies often prefer to approach organizations that provide both consultation and implementation services.  It also reduces incidents of finger pointing if something goes wrong and you have to deal with a single entity for all of your issues.  A one-stop shop is an enticing thought, but it’s a difficult combination to achieve and it certainly does not come cheap.  In the final analysis, it’s your state of preparedness for the deployment and the questions you ask of your prospective collaborators that will decide the fate of your CRM implementation.