5 CRM Essentials IT Must Manage


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Even cloud CRM projects need a guide.

Even cloud CRM projects need a guide.

Memo to IT executives: Are you helping guide your business’s CRM projects?

Today, many IT executives are positioning themselves as trusted advisors to business teams. Their rationale: By encouraging business groups to select their own CRM software, frontline customer-facing personnel and their managers will feel greater ownership of the software they’ve selected, helping stoke user adoption and thus project success.

We’ve already seen this more advisory approach pay off at numerous organizations. Based on those success stories, we’ve found that for any organization that wants to empower business managers to take the lead, it’s essential when procuring CRM software — even if via the cloud — that IT executives bring their expertise to bear in the following five ways:

1. Vendor Selection

We’re seeing more and more organizations now conducting a formal vendor selection — between Microsoft CRM Dynamics, Oracle CRM On Demand and salesforce.com — before deciding which CRM software they want to adopt.

Many companies are also focusing not on selecting software for general capabilities, but for the specific business outcomes that they’re trying to achieve. In the old days, by contrast, many enterprises picked gargantuan ERP applications not because they wanted to use most of the functionality on offer, but because one day they might want to tap an obscure, built-in feature.

Today, however, many businesses are — correctly — staying lean, and beginning their CRM projects by defining their targeted business outcomes, then identifying which software can deliver the required functionality as quickly, reliably and cost-effectively as possible.

2. Select 360-Degree View Subset

A parallel development is that rather than trying to know everything about every customer, many businesses are instead seeking to define and capture only what they need to know. Don’t boil the ocean; just use the technology you need to get the job done.

One excellent example of this focus on business outcomes first comes via Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA). As outlined in an RFP issued earlier this year, the agency said its new Salesforce CRM software must help it spot insider deals and other forms of market abuse. As chartered by Parliament, the remit of the agency —now known as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) — also includes consumer protection, and so the organization has said it wants to tap the Service Cloud as part of a new contact center designed to field consumers’ bank-related complaints.

3. Implement CRM Applications Rapidly

After defining your business requirements and selecting the best technology for the job, next implement the software as rapidly as possible, using short project phases, with each tied to delivering a critical new business capability. That’s been our advice over our more than 15 years of helping businesses adopt CRM software.

In recent years, we’ve seen more businesses move toward using specifically agile development techniques — and this has resulted in leaner, more cost-effective IT projects. To gain experience with agile, however, we often recommend using a transitional approach. For British insurer Unum, for example, the CRM project proceeded via three stages: First, Cloud Sherpas ran the project. For following project phases, we both shared roles and responsibilities. Finally, after gaining more experience with agile development techniques and the software itself, Unum transitioned to taking running the Salesforce project and ongoing maintenance.

That’s the most successful model because it allows businesses to learn as they go, before taking full control. Throughout, it will be essential for the IT department to help project teams avoid common pitfalls, tap project management best practices, and remain focused on agile techniques that help organizations quickly define and implement what they require. Going forward, meanwhile, IT must help guide in-house teams to quickly field and deliver follow-on requests from users that add additional capabilities that offer further business payoffs.

4. Integrate CRM With Other Systems

The purpose of data integration is to ensure that sales teams and other customer-facing business units — and partners — can tap crucial customer and business information. To make it easier for businesses to integrate their CRM system with other enterprise data stores, we’ve been expanding our partnership with Informatica Cloud, which is a leading player in marketplace. Recently, for example, we helped National Grid to integrate its SAP and Salesforce systems, using Informatica Cloud.

One plus for IT organizations when it comes to Informatica Cloud: The vendor is no upstart. Indeed, it’s offered traditional, on-premise data integration tools for years. Numerous IT personnel are already skilled in using these tools, and now stand to benefit, professionally speaking, from mastering its cloud toolset tool. Because notwithstanding the rise of cloud computing, the need to integrate business systems — both on-premise and in the cloud — isn’t going away anytime soon.

5. Guide Data Migration and Management

The phrase “data migration” might sound dull, but it’s one of the most important CRM project-success requirements on this list. In part, that’s because CRM projects succeed only when users trust the quality or accuracy of the data in the system. For example, one insurer’s CRM project was delayed for a year because the data that had been loaded into the system wasn’t “clean” enough for users, who thus failed to adopt the system. Only after Cloud Sherpas helped the business rethink its approach to data migration and data quality did users buy in, and the new CRM project succeeded.

While migrating data into your new CRM system may be a one-time challenge, managing data quality is a never-ending endeavor. Because once you allow people to add information into a system — Salesforce, Siebel, or any other application — they’ll start to mess up the quality of your data. While technology can help prevent incorrect or duplicate information from being added in the first place, ultimately businesses benefit most by tasking someone to ensure that CRM systems are storing only high-quality data.

Learn More

Cloud Sherpas is one of the world’s leading cloud services brokerages and helps businesses adopt, manage and enhance their CRM investment by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving the desired business capabilities.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user fr4dd.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


  1. Hi Adam! Great article! There’s a discrepancy in the title (4 ways CRM needs IT) vs what’s stated in the article (5 ways). Regardless, still makes some great points.

  2. Thanks, Cathy! I guess I got caught up in the moment and wrote more than I expected. All fixed now.



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