CRM Implementation without Tears

It’s said that business mistakes are the tuition you pay for success. If that’s true, one of the most common payments is in CRM implementation, which tends to be fraught with errors, frustration and lessons learned.

Consider the many areas in which it can go wrong. Automation. Scalability. User experience. Analytics. The integration of existing processes. CRM implementation doesn’t happen in a vacuum; every element works togther like instruments in an orchestra to create (or obstruct) a successful infrastructure. No wonder why so many businesses look back at their Salesforce implementations as a trial by fire. All too often that first experience serves as education for the next major initiative.

One of the riskiest areas in CRM implementation, of course, is data – one of the most central aspects. From the initial migration to data entry and ongoing integrations, handling data correctly is key to a successful Salesforce experience.

Consider bad data, which can jeopardize a new implementation before it’s gotten off the ground. Maybe only part of the necessary data is there. Maybe the data is complete but irrelevant. Maybe it’s just plain wrong. Whatever the problem is, you can count on both users and team members becoming frustrated, then disengaged, once the issue becomes apparent.

The good news: this isn’t inevitable. By following best practices, you can head off a lot of the more common problems and pave the road for a smoother implementation. So with that in mind, let’s review some useful tips for handling data during this critical transition.

Start with a thorough data cleansing.

Let’s just say it; you need to be relentless. Obviously you want to eliminate duplicates and incompletes, but you should also focus on data quality. Is the right information there? Because here’s something we can promise you: your organization is going to invest serious time in migrating data. To minimize their time commitment, kick any outdated or irrelevant data to the curb. (The exception, of course, is when it’s required for compliance or regulatory purposes.) Your first instinct might be to cling to every last scrap of information in case it’s useful later on – but smart teams will keep what’s relevant and useful and be ready to let go of everything else.

Map it out.

Implementing a CRM is like going down a rabbit hole if you’re not following a cohesive roadmap. To keep everything tidy, create a data map that outlines elements like object relationships, field data types, precision and length. Also important: make sure you accurately evaluate the security requirements for your different types of data. Your IT security team will change your architecture later if you don’t, so be sure you incorporate that from the start.

Create the right processes.

Something you’ll want to devote some thought to is the relationship between your processes and your data. Which shapes which? Does the data drive your processes or vice versa? If you know you require a certain kind of data, you’ll want to maximize your chances by designing the right process. But you’ll want to think it through from the other direction also by evaluating the worth of your fields and objects in terms of current processes.

You’ll also want to update your current data policies for strong quality control. For instance, you might decide to require full contact names going forward to eliminate unhelpful entries like “Jeff H.” Or maybe you’ll mandate contact information, to avoid putting your sales team through the frustration of trying to contact “hot” leads without an email address or phone number.

Think about the future.

Data doesn’t maintain itself. Even the most careful groundwork and intelligent processes can’t prevent chaos down the road if your team doesn’t regularly manage and clean your data. Build strategies and processes now to ensure your system stays organized and clean. By deliberately designing a process to moderate the data, you’ll ward off the disorder of incomplete data, duplicates and outdated junk that can quickly fill a system.

If you’re facing Salesforce or some other CRM implementation in the near future, don’t be intimidated by the horror stories you might hear. The right best practices can help you manage your data like a pro and get you on the road to a smooth and advantageous new era.