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CRM in One Month

Can I Implement On-Demand CRM in One Month?

The first question often asked to us prior to a CRM implementation is "how long is it going to take?", or "can we do this CRM project in a month?".

Although it is feasible to implement a CRM in a month, a week even, be wary of anyone who immediately says "yes" to this, without first asking you a few questions in return!

In fact, sure, we could 'implement' Zoho CRM for you, complete with personalised login account, a couple of users, corporate logo and a few email templates in a couple of hours and you would be able to start using it in full. To answer this in any detail though you need to look at several factors, including the CRM software you intend implementing and the extent of implementation, normally known as 'customisation', which refers to the extent you wish to change the default software to match your organisational processes. Customisation typically refers to fields names, drop down field values, screen layout, custom workflow like alerts, quotation/invoice layouts, email templates and so on.

It should be noted and certainly communicated to project stake holders that CRM actually covers a whole organisation: basically sales, marketing and support processes.  

In addition to these fundamental 'modules', a CRM can be used to improve processes through automation and better structure and it can be linked with other business systems like HR/recruitment, accounting, email, project management and more.  

It is fairly common for businesses to embark on a CRM project then think of many areas that can be improved, areas they may not have been aware of previously, which prompts the question, “is a CRM project ever finished?”  

Strictly speaking, if you are using your CRM effectively and monitoring its effectiveness and have an in-house resource or trusted CRM consultant to manage it for you, then "no", a CRM project is never really 'finished', it can be constantly improved and adapted as your business grows. If you spot an area that can be automated, customise the CRM to do so.  If something is not working, change it.  The point being, unlike 'traditional' projects which have defined start and end dates, a CRM project is constantly evolving, constantly improving.  

This does not mean to say it requires a huge and ongoing budget!  Of course, you can declare the core 'implementation' as complete, but many companies employ CRM consultants on a retainer/support basis to implement changes as they see more and more areas for improvement, possible due to the tool’s high degree of customisation capability.

The title of this article is 'Can I implement an on-demand CRM in 1 month?', the keyword there being 'on demand'. We are not including on site implementations in these observations, which tend to be more complicated and involve procurement of hardware and software as well as the implementation itself, which by the nature of on premise CRM software mostly require a high degree of partner involvement and interaction with various other vendors for the hardware, software and so on, all adding to the project timeframe.  

On demand CRM, also known as ‘Software as a Service’ on the other hand, is rather like subscribing to cable TV, whereby you rent the equipment and software required to receive the satellite signal.  The same applies to software as a service: you rent the software and the hardware and the service.  The infrastructure includes hardware, data security, backups and support, the software obviously refers to the software residing on the provider's servers that runs the CRM efficiently, with minimal down time. All you need to use the service is a browser and internet connection.

The key difference with tradition on premise setups therefore is that all of the infrastructure setup is done for you.  You do not pay for these up front, nor do you need to wait for any kind of setup process.  But you do not own the infrastructure either, no more than you own the satellite box you rent from Sky TV, you only own your data.

Speaking of data, another area that often eats up considerable time in a CRM project is whether or not you need to import legacy data into your new CRM.  If you do, despite what you may feel about it, the chances are high that the data will require 'cleaning', ie. data columns need to be unmerged, for structured name and address columns, new fields that you want to have in your CRM need to be added prior to importing to the CRM, and so on.

It is vastly beneficial to clean and prepare data prior to import because this means the CRM system can really come into its own by rapidly filtering out (for example) customers in London, aged over 25... or leads gathered from the event last week, based in the Birmingham area, who were interested in Product XYZ... The ability to do this is dependent on the quality of the data in the system.

These days on demand CRM software provides a complex array of highly customisable functions covering many areas of most business verticals.  They also have a huge user base - Zoho for example have over 6,000,000 users - which means they are able to invest huge sums of money in robust platforms and very well tested and stable software, which are ready to use as soon as you create an account.  Indeed, CRM vendors like Zoho CRM, and world leaders, offer CRM solutions that can be ready to use in a matter of a few minutes.

Such rapid timeframes would not include any customisation of course, just the setup.  Mangoho have CRM consulting and CRM implementation experience with businesses of all sizes and CRM deployment for a small businesses can be anywhere from one day to a couple of weeks including customisation and training. In the mid range small business implementation are from one month to a few months.  On the other end of the scale, a full blown CRM implementation in a more complex organisation with large teams of a few hundred people and complex business models can take up to a year or more.  

A good indication of how long a project will take we find is the number of users - this gives us an indication of the level of customisation and more importantly the workflow and interaction between teams.  

Also important is... the client!  We're only as fast as the client and if the client takes a couple of weeks to provide information vital to the CRM project, well then the project is delayed as a result. This is why we prefer to use a project management tool like Zoho Projects to manage larger projects to keep everyone on schedule and collaborate online.  With clear milestones and task scheduling and channels that provide easy and rapid feedback from the client, your project implementation time can be reduced.  Click here for more details of how we work.

In addition, it is important to identify who will use the CRM and get them involved on the project right at the start. Indeed, in our opinion the more successful CRM projects are the ones where the Sales managers are the 'owners' of the project. We have seen in some CRM implementations the IT team has been tasked with the implementation and have done a great job of selecting a technically superb piece of software, but it fails at the user adoption stage as they have no idea of the deeper aspects of the sales and marketing process and the software does not match the user needs.  

CRM is a sales and marketing tool, these users must be involved. By doing so you will shorten user acceptance time and reduce chances of change requests at the end of the project as they will have been providing input from the start.

In summary, the one month timeframe is possible but dependent on many factors, the first being selection of an on demand CRM:

  • No hardware set up
  • No software set up, configuration or testing
  • Reduced number of potential budgetary barriers at the start of the project
  • No extended timeframes for customisations
  • No on site patch updates or software upgrades required
  • No need to involve your IT team which may result in bottlenecks

Major factors that will affect the all-important 1 month timeframe are:

  • Complexity of required customisation - will there be a significant amount of CRM customisation required? Will you need to implement complex workflow, custom Quotes and Invoices or add on functionality such as integration to invoicing, helpdesk or other applications?
  • Resources – will you hire a CRM consultant to manage the implementation, someone who is familiar not only with the software but also with CRM concepts and how each module relates to each other?
  • Have you outlined the key improvement areas, or 'pain points' that you want to improve?
  • How ready is your organisation with regards to upcoming change, user buy-in and training?
  • How much data needs to be migrated and what is the state of that data?  Does it match the field structure in the CRM you have chosen?

If you have more complex requirements we recommend speaking to a UK CRM consultant or with the on demand CRM software provider themselves to get an idea of estimated timeframe.  Another valuable source of information can also be people you know who have been through the experience - they can relate how their project went and what timeframes are achievable.

Good Luck!

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Mangoho are CRM consultants UK and UK Zoho Partners with vast experience of implementing Zoho CRM in businesses of all sizes and verticals.
Contact us for more information and ideas on how Zoho can be implemented in your business.