In my post ‘How long does a CRM project really take’ I suggested that 12 months was fairly normal for a strategic mid range deployment of CRM software. This begs the question: how do you speed up a CRM project. Here are 18 ways:

Truncate the fuzzy front end – effectively this is the pre-project phase where organisations start to think about and research CRM. It’s often characterised by a lack of urgency and defined responsibilities and can run on for many years. It’s the ‘low hanging fruit’ of the CRM project world as compacting this stage can dramatically shorten time-lines. Third parties like Mareeba and others, offer CRM planning and feasibility services which can create the desired momentum, but it may be as simple as getting sufficient internal focus to get things moving.

Pick your moment – CRM projects are resource hungry and they won’t progress quickly if key stakeholders are heavily engaged in a variety of other key projects and initiatives. It’s also wise to pick times of operational stability. If there’s a lot of changing then this will take up bandwidth and may result in delays as requirements are re-engineered to absorb changing needs.

Begin early – there’s a lot of things that can be done in advance of a CRM project that will dramatically compress time-lines. Data preparation and cleansing, for example, is likely to be of value regardless of if and when the project takes place. The same can be said of mapping and improving existing business processes.

Define requirements in detail up front – a common theme in this blog I know, but front-loaded requirements definition helps avoid ‘scope-creep’ where projects are delayed as new requirements are added during or after initial system development.

Make sure internal staff have enough time – project team members struggling to cope with both their day jobs and the demands of a CRM project can be a major source of delay.

Get dedicated resource – consider recruiting experienced freelance project staff. CRM projects, as I mentioned earlier, are surprisingly time-consuming, and having people involved who can focus on the project can significantly increase momentum.

Streamline the vendor selection process – while care needs to be taken to select the right CRM technology and implementation partner, a lot of vendor selection exercises are needlessly complex and long-winded. There’s often a lot of ‘fat’ that can be trimmed out that enables you to make sound selection activities quickly.

Be clear about your time-line expectations to prospective vendors – when you go to kick off your CRM project you don’t want to find the vendor resources you need are tied up on another project. Be clear up front of what resources you need and when, and gain a commitment from prospective vendors that the people you need are available to meet your defined time-lines.

Begin contractual discussions early – if there are contracts that will need to be discussed and negotiated with your potential vendor, begin the process as early as you can. Once the legal representatives get involved it can take some while to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The earlier in the process this begins the less it impacts the overall time-lines.

In the next post, I will outline nine ways to speed up the implementation process itself.

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