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The continuing and rapid shift to Software as a Service (SaaS) continues apace. Forrester Research expects cloud CRM will become the single most common deployment model for CRM within the next two years, with newer SaaS solutions replacing most on-premise CRM installations.

It’s not hard to see why. A growing number of businesses recognize and seek to leverage the huge potential benefits of cloud CRM. These include the reduced total cost of ownership; enhanced integration of your remote workers and systems; simplified IT management; and real-time responses to a myriad of problems on the fly.

Nevertheless, many of the same problems afflicting CRM implementations 3 decades ago persist today in cloud environments: Poor user adoption, data silos and bad data capture management continue to harm many implementations.

Companies must take proactive measures to ensure a successful move to the cloud. Here are five proven CRM governance strategies you can consider for your business today.

  1. Devise a clear strategy

According to IT analysts, the biggest implementation stumbling blocks include:

  • Lack of knowledge and research
  • Lack of project management skills
  • Lack of commitment from executive management

These shortfalls tend to flow from a common misunderstanding that CRM “fixes” problems with processes and people. But CRM is far more than just software; it can be more fruitfully seen as a strategy: i.e., a way of organizing your business towards focusing on customer needs through use of shared intelligence on their behavior.

In this sense, CRM software isn’t a techno-fix; it’s a catalyst for sparking improvement and innovation.

CRM is processes, people and technology working in unison.

To get everything working together towards satisfying your customers, you’ll need to plan. That means knowing what you want to accomplish and how to best reach your objectives. Break big goals into achievable sub-goals, and then map out how you want to accomplish these steps. You’ll probably have to improvise as your objectives evolve. Plan for both accountability and flexibility.

  1. Get team buy-in early

A key point of resistance, back then and now, are employees. Resistance can stem from a myriad of reasons. But the following three issues tend to be recurrent:

  • Employees are comfortable working the way they do now
  • They’re worried about having to climb a steep learning curve
  • They don’t understand how the new system will be of benefit to them

CRM works best when your team is on board with a clear understanding of how their new CRM will make their job easier.

As part of developing a clear vision of where you’re going, you should reach out to your stakeholders for their input and engagement.

Pre-empting employee resistance entails getting their participation early on in the implementation process. It’s essential that you assign a CRM Champion: i.e., a power user or key stakeholder who can spearhead your adoption efforts. Ideally, this is a person with a crystal clear understanding of your business processes and who can articulate your CRM’s value to other users in terms they’ll appreciate.

  1. Set clear and consistent data management standards

According to Gartner, a full 40% of software implementations fail to meet their targeted benefits because of poor data quality.

You will also need to ensure clear data capture management practices are in place so that every piece of customer information that goes into your CRM is accurate, up-to-date and complete.

Ensuring clean data entails putting in place internal controls. That includes processes to cleanse your existing data (filter out junk data and bad entries), rationalize (de-dupe) and integrate (connect your systems such as accounting, lead information and order data).

Certified Data Architect Trevor Broatch shared several insights on how businesses – big or small — could upgrade achieve the above ends. His suggestions include:

  1. Define your System of Record which will serve as your authoritative version of the truth for everything to do with your customers. For most businesses, this should be your CRM.
  2. Identify your key business data sets (usually, product and or customer information) and ensure its accuracy and completeness.
  3. Create a unique customer identifier by which to ensure data standards are applied consistently across systems. Broatch says this should be a unique number, rather than an email address, name or phone number, as the latter identifiers can and do change.
  1. Ensure accountability across all 3 major facets of your implementation

You’ve drafted your strategy, appointed your CRM champion and trained everyone up on your new data management and capture expectations. Great job! Now you must consider how you will ensure your best-laid plans and processes are followed through on.

You’ve got your Project Manager, who takes care of the technical implementation; there’s also your CRM Champion, who will be accountable for your user adoption and training efforts.

Broatch writes that it often pays to appoint a data steward as well.

Since even good data decays (at a rate of 22.1% per year) you’ll need to make sure your data steward cleans duplicate, erroneous and out-of-date entries on a regular basis — whether that’s using your CRM’s built-in data management tools, or with a third-party verification tool.

  1. Find a solution matched to your goals and needs

Finally, many companies try to achieve too much too fast and as a result, fail to achieve the expected results. Remember that you’re not boiling the ocean. Proceed incrementally based on a timeline that makes sense to your organization, available knowledge and IT resources.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, you may want to consider a solution that offers greater flexibility, personalized support and guidance. A vendor who has got your back, who is willing to provide you with the coaching, training and advice you need, will be able to help you across all stages of your cloud CRM journey to realize your targeted objectives.

Want to learn more about you how can guarantee a successful cloud implementation? Read our MTC e-book packed with advice showing how you can move to the cloud with confidence.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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