Wednesday, July 1, 2015

10 Tips for CRM System Integration Projects (Part 1)

CRM systems integration projects can be very risky. There are at least a dozen oft-quoted industry analyst reports that estimate that the failure rate of CRM projects is between 18 and 69 percent. Projects can go over time and budget when risk factors are not identified up front and necessary adjustments aren’t made. 

I have identified 10 best practices that can help ensure that your CRM systems integration project is a success. Here are the first five:
1. Avoid the Big Bang Approach. Projects that attempt to integrate everything at once, are less likely to have a successful, timely, on-budget rollout. Breaking up the CRM project into smaller, more manageable components is critical because business needs change over time. It’s best to identify the portions of the project that can provide true and immediate business benefits, and start with those. Scale down the scope of your implementation and focus on quick, easy wins while allowing your team to build its expertise.

2. Have Clear and Specific Requirements. When the use case has been poorly thought through, requirements can change frequently and create chaos in a CRM integration project. Everyone, including IT, salespeople, customers, the software vendor, and integrators, has to agree on what the expectations are, how the project will be implemented, and over what time frame. And if they can’t define the end product, they should define it in pieces. There is nothing wrong with using an agile methodology, but it still helps to have a clear vision before you begin.

3. Invest in the Right Infrastructure. Undertaking a CRM integration project with the wrong infrastructure to support your team can lead to serious issues and excessive costs. Avoid solutions that rely on manual programming or overly complex, heavy middleware software sets. Focus on single-stack, single-studio solutions with an enterprise class integration platform.

4. Avoid Impossible Schedules. Aggressive schedules are fine but impossible schedules must be avoided. Set realistic expectations by establishing an accurate estimate of the integration efforts required for your project. If necessary, bring in an outside firm to provide an estimate of the effort required.

5. Minimize Staff Turnover. Changes in project management, business analysts, developers, and stakeholders can complicate completion of a project. Try to avoid turnover by gaining commitments from participants that they are available for the expected duration of the project.

In our next post we will cover the next five tips.

Glenn Johnson is Senior Vice President of Magic Software Enterprises Americas. He is is the author of the award-winning blog Integrate My JDE and contributor to the Business Week Guide to Multimedia Presentations (Osborne-McGraw Hill). He has presented at Collaborate, Interop, COMMON, CIO Logistics Forum and dozens of other user groups and conferences. His interviews on software industry issues have been aired on the NBC Today Show, E! News, Discovery and more.

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