How to Prioritize Your CRM Projects

You may have heard the adage, “Customers are the lifeblood of any business.” They supply businesses with revenue which enables them to grow, prosper, and develop new products and services. CRM applications ensure businesses (and the revenue they bring) have healthy sales pipelines and customer service resources in place to meet their customer obligations. It’s much like doctors monitor our circulatory systems, ensuring they can distribute life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients throughout our bodies.

Prioritizing your company’s CRM project schedule based on key factors can dictate how well your organization can collaborate within individual teams and across your company. It’s important to lay out your project plan effectively, generating significant ROI throughout your digital transformation journey.

There are many reasons to schedule projects strategically. This blog will cover a few of the best internal methods for priority-ranking your CRM projects.

It’s tempting to try and “eat the frog first,” tackling the most complex, challenging requirement, hoping it will generate the best return and build momentum towards success.  Others tackle the “low-hanging fruit” projects, getting some quick wins on the board. Yet, these time-worn productivity tactics don’t always work with modern CRM initiatives.

Here are four factors your business should consider while scheduling your CRM project roster.

Strategic Fit

In many cases, businesses tend to launch their CRM journey by focusing on fundamental CRM requirements, making their customer-facing employees more effective at their jobs. For example, sales, customer service, and partner management teams often take priority over marketing or customer self-service.

An article in CIO.com suggests CRM project leads practice the Delphi Method of polling their organization for their votes on the top project priorities, and where they fit in the organization. The survey also calls on respondents to disclose how they, personally (career-wise), would benefit from the project schedule they laid out.  If you are the CRM project manager, this survey method could take a great deal of pressure off you by letting the majority rule.

Since CRM initiatives are so critical as part of company-wide digital business transformation initiatives, many companies may choose to avoid a popularity vote and establish a committee of key executives instead. The CIO.com article suggests this committee could use the “Betting Method” and place wagers on the CRM projects they feel would generate the best economic return for their division and the company overall. This exercise can help business leaders to bring all of their strategic priorities to the table while taking active roles in the priority weighting.

Economic Impact

Sales and marketing are often viewed as a company’s revenue engine, keeping a business moving forward. Customer and field service technicians help retain customer loyalty, add value to customer relationships, and create additional revenue streams like repair and maintenance contracts. CRM applications are crucial to all of these areas of a business. Deciding which of these teams can contribute the biggest effect on revenue and margins is a great way to schedule your projects going forward.

Understanding whether a project will help your business increase profitability or contain costs (and to what degree) might be a factor in placing a CRM project on your team’s roadmap. Of course, driving revenue and profitability often garner the most attention; however, depending on the project sponsor, it might be more strategic to help a business minimize costs.

One approach which works well for many companies is to contract a CRM consultant that can help your business with customizing your system, training, and custom development. A fixed monthly fee can help you focus on managing projects which your team can complete yourself. In addition, you can extend your team with certified experts who have significant experience ensuring CRM/ERP success for platforms like Salesforce, Sugar CRM, Zendesk, Pipedrive, and Microsoft.

Project managers who are distracted by ad-hoc interruptions while working on large projects can find themselves at odds with competing priorities. By delegating smaller projects to a resource that is always available on-demand, PMs can stay focused on high-value, strategic engagements. Doing so can keep departmental managers happy when they need support, advice on best practices, or an “extra pair of hands and eyes” for configurations or maintenance work.

Feasibility

Every technology project carries some level of risk. It may be data migration, upgrading to a more modern, flexible CRM platform, or integrating two or more business applications. Preparation for these projects requires careful planning, a wealth of resources, and a good understanding of how much time a project should take. Of course, you don’t want to “bite off more than you can chew” on a project. And don’t forget about the dreaded “scope creep.” Be sure to add some “padding” to your scheduling to account for changes.

Setting (and meeting) internal expectations on how soon you will be available to start and complete the project are critical to your success. If your team is falling behind on project milestones, having “Plan B” support resources can help get you over the finish line on time while earning big points with company brass.

Prioritize CRM projects

Hybrid Approaches

There’s no penalty for applying multiple strategies to prioritizing your CRM projects. A combination of economic factors and overall delivery feasibility will always play a role when you’re laying out your projects for the next few months or even the following year. Level-set your clients with realistic project cost and timeframe expectations based on a well-defined statement of work before starting your initiatives. Have a formal change management process if more project scope needs to be added, impacting the next projects on your agenda.

Getting into a project beyond your abilities or outside your comfort zone can be daunting, potentially harming your reputation if the project goes off the rails. Always be sure to keep constant lines of communication open with your project sponsors, your teammates, and any strategic partners that can help your organization meet its strategic goals.

Need help getting this process started? Get in touch with our certified CRM experts today!