All businesses run on systems. The better your systems, the more efficiently your employees can generate value for customers and profits for the organization.
But no two organizations are the same. While small businesses can generally get away with using off-the-shelf software, these solutions tend to generate diminishing returns as the organization gets bigger.
Eventually, you need to implement a new, large-scale technological solution that empowers your business strategy. Successful implementations help businesses serve customers better while improving business performance in the long run.
But huge, multifaceted systems are complex and difficult to implement. This is true whether deploying a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Salesforce or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution like Oracle ERP.
It takes careful analysis, accurate assessment of your businesses’ resources, and a great deal of contingency planning to successfully pull off a large-scale system implementation. Adopting the right approach is key to ensuring your company succeeds.
Implementing New Systems vs. Upgrading Existing Ones
The first decision that executives have to make when considering CRM or ERP implementation is whether to upgrade an existing system or replace it entirely. Many factors can contribute to this decision:
- Your vendor may no longer support your current system or its underlying infrastructure.
- New system technology may offer mission-critical functionality that is key to achieving (or maintaining) a competitive edge in your industry.
- Hiring and retaining talent with system-specific skills might become a challenge. On the other hand, talent with skills specific to new systems may be easier or cheaper to find.
- Your current system’s user interface (UI) may be out-of-date or unable to keep up with the demands of today’s mobile-connected, on-the-go workforce.
- You may need customizable features and API-powered automation and connectivity that the current system does not easily provide for.
While it would be great to simply upgrade your business’s system to the latest, greatest option every time new technology comes out, that isn’t feasible. Any changes you make to your business’s core systems come with risks.
Many small and mid-sized businesses work along a two-year, five-year, and ten-year projection timeframe, sizing up their options to determine which one is most likely to offer the greatest value over time. Additionally, cost concerns and the reality of employee training require organizations to make system-oriented decisions that are designed to last.
Implementing a brand-new system like Salesforce can guarantee the organization has the tools it needs to fulfill its objectives while handling long-term growth. However, these projects are expensive and time-consuming, which puts pressure on executives to demonstrate that they can handle the delicate procedure with expertise.
How to Ensure a Successful Implementation Project
A significant majority of CRM implementation projects fail. While relatively few of these failures are of the disastrous, show-stopping variety, they are still major disappointments.
Projecting an overly optimistic ROI before deploying a new system, and then failing to reach that figure, will not endear you to company stakeholders. Executives hold their employees to high standards for a reason.
While there is no easy way to ensure your business system implementation goes off without a hitch, there are three broad categories you must familiarize yourself with before getting started.
1. Establish a Strategy
When assessing how new technology and systems fits into your enterprise platform, keep your mind focused on the “why” of each function, feature, user role, and customer touchpoint within the system’s architecture. A good strategy results in a positive outcome.
Be sure to evaluate options for the technology and the roadmap. maturity, and integration capabilities of those technologies to see how and when things fit together. This path will lead to the unfolding of a well thought out strategy.
2. Get the Right Talent
Once you understand how technology implementation should work out on paper, you can begin to address how your company’s actual assets can help achieve that end. This is where you identify key players in your organization and the skills they bring to the table.
Assess how you will train the existing employees on the new system, and where you need to hire new team members.
This is where you can identify the potential need for outside talent. For instance, if your databases contain corrupted or mislabeled records, you will need to clean them up before you begin deploying a new system. This is an ideal job for temporary data entry employees.
3. Envision a General Roadmap
When you launch a major system like Salesforce, you must do it in stages. Employees are generally resistant to big changes, which means you will have to layer those changes throughout your organization in small, manageable increments.
Your change implementation roadmap is your guide to this crucial part of the puzzle. Organizations that introduce new systems and processes gradually, with scheduled training and valuable skills workshops, are far more likely to pull off a successful deployment than those that don’t.
Leveraging Expert Consultants
Expert advisory services are a growing trend. More and more leaders are realizing that a significant amount time and money can be saved by leaning into experts who have "been there and done that", This is a sound plan and the earlier and more seperate you keep the advice the more effective and beneficial it will be.