If you’re looking to acquire a CRM solution, you’ve probably come across the phrase “CRM roadmap”. For those who have never purchased a CRM before, or even those in the market for a new CRM, this phrase may be foreign, but it won’t be for much longer. In this post, we’ll address what a CRM roadmap is, why it’s crucial for successful CRM implementation or conversion, and what companies should do to create a comprehensive CRM roadmap.

What is a CRM Roadmap?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions were created with one major function in mind: improving customer relationships. Businesses adopting CRM recognize the value of understanding their customers on a deeper level. CRM enables organizations to dive deeper into analytics, buying behaviors, touchpoints, and buyer’s journeys. However, to improve the relationship with a customer, we must first understand that relationship.

A CRM roadmap is a plan for CRM implementation that aligns an organization’s business strategy with the functionality of its CRM. To define a CRM roadmap, an organization must understand its processes, how each department works to meet the needs of customers, and the positive outcomes it hopes to see in their processes through the introduction of CRM. Some questions an organization may ask itself to better understand its current processes might be:

  1. How do our sales/marketing/services teams currently gain insight about customers?
  2. How do these departments share information and work towards common goals?
  3. How do we currently gauge which sales/marketing/services offerings we should produce next to satisfy customer needs?

Without a clear roadmap, businesses trying to implement CRM solutions go in blind, investing in something that does not truly reflect the business priorities or improve the customer relationship and – even worse – does not fit with the organization’s long-term goals for growth and innovation. 

Your implementation partner can help you with most of your CRM roadmap, but the initial steps are on you and your organization. You know your organization better than anyone. You know where you shine, you know where you struggle. How should the CRM you choose help overcome those struggles and accelerate your success?

Why Do I Need a CRM Roadmap?

The numbers vary, but most reports reflect that nearly half of all CRM projects fail. That’s a terrifying statistic if you know how much a CRM costs to implement. It is for this reason that a CRM roadmap is so essential. You wouldn’t invest in a car without having some criteria of what’s important to you, right? The same is true for CRM.

There are thousands of CRM solutions out there. A CRM roadmap guides the selection of one that hits the closest mark for what you need both now and in the future. Choosing the right solution not only saves money on the physical CRM investment, but it also builds an environment where aligning departments, automating processes, and improving customer satisfaction fit in naturally with the way your organization runs.  Moreover, the roadmap lays the groundwork for the initial functionality rollout, organizing future enhancements and added functionality in the most logical order for both business and customer needs. Having these strategic plans in place maximizes the ROI of the software investment.

How Do I Create a CRM Roadmap?

As mentioned earlier, your CRM partner can help you hash out some of the tougher aspects of your CRM roadmap, however, you can’t know what you need without laying the foundation. Here’s how to do that:

Step 1: Get everyone on board.

Gaining buy-in from the leaders in your organization is crucial for the long-term success of your CRM. Once the CRM is chosen and implemented, even if it is perfectly positioned to improve your processes, it won’t be fully adopted without a strong push from leadership.

Introducing a new solution will alter your processes and your business structure, forcing teams to adapt if they want to use the system. However, people’s natural resistance to change will reign supreme unless their management teams lead by example and prioritize the adoption of the CRM.

Step 2: Identify where you are and where you want to be.

Together with your senior management team and stakeholders, start to examine how each department functions and how their actions intertwine with one another. Ask department heads to identify which data is most important to them and if there is information missing that could improve their collaboration and productivity. Could the sales team benefit from a more transparent handoff of MQLs? Is the marketing team lacking insight for lead nurturing opportunities? Is the services team missing crucial historical data on customer issues?

Identifying where teams are now and what they’re struggling with will shed light on the reasoning behind CRM adoption. In addition, you’ll also start to realize where gaps exist in your current processes and reflect on how those gaps may affect plans for growth.

Speaking of plans for growth…

As the current state of the data and communications are evaluated, future business plans must also be discussed. Where does the company plan to go and how must a supporting software enable that? Do you plan to innovate any current processes? How might that affect how departments interact? Is the organization’s existing software mix being considered? How will the new CRM fit in with that mix?

The problems/solutions and current/future business plans that result from these discussions are your business requirements. Document this information so it can be referenced throughout the rest of the CRM roadmap. Keeping business requirements top-of-mind helps inform the approach to the functional requirements that come next.

Step 3: Define functional requirements with your consultant.

Once the business has a grasp on its current processes and what its implementation should accomplish, a CRM consultant can use those insights to strategically pinpoint the functional requirements your CRM must fulfill.

Think of business requirements as your “what” and functional requirements as your “how”. Functional requirements specify the functions the CRM must perform to fulfill the business requirements you created. For example, if one of your business requirements is that the CRM should streamline the supply chain, then functional requirements tied to that may be automated workflows and real-time inventory updates.

An experienced CRM consultant will help you rank requirements to weed out the CRM solutions that won’t fit your criteria. Functional requirements, like business requirements, are documented so they can be referenced and built upon. Once the functional requirements are fully hashed out, the process of CRM selection can move forward. Without them, the business cannot expect a successful CRM implementation.

All the Rest

In recap, the steps above are the most crucial first stages of your CRM roadmap. They include A.) Getting senior management on board B.) Identifying the existing friction in your processes and considering your future goals C.) Defining your business requirements to solve those issues and D.) Strategically prioritizing the functional requirements to fulfill business requirements.

The rest of your CRM roadmap will involve decisions about the implementation approach and timeline, budget, training and user adoption plans, potential integrations with other business solutions, and plans for data governance.

These aspects of the CRM roadmap could make up their own blog posts. They all require realistic goal setting, proactive planning, and thoughtful business analysis. It sounds daunting, but, with an experienced CRM partner guiding the process and answering your questions, it doesn’t have to be.

Selecting and implementing any business software takes time and research. If an ill-fitting solution is put in place, it will only add to the existing issues of an organization. Don’t become another failed CRM statistic. Start your CRM roadmap with thoughtful internal discussions and seek out a CRM consultant early-on in the process to help you with selection criteria and requirements. You’ll be glad you did.

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