Do you need a support plan for your CRM implementation?

The question of how much implementation support is needed to nurture a successful rollout is often posed to those of us in the CRM software business and it’s a difficult one to answer as it depends upon a variety of factors. In this blog I’ll do my best to answer some of the questions that an IT Manager or SharePoint Administrator may have regarding implementation support.

There are many variables involved with the launch of a CRM system. If your organization is already invested in SharePoint Online, it makes sense to leverage that investment by using it for your CRM system needs.

While some companies want all features and functions to be fully operational before they are willing to roll a new system out, others will prefer to get started with the basics and build their solution up as time goes on. Before seeking management approval, it’s important to consider which style of implementation will best meet your company’s style of operation. This doesn’t have to be complicated – ask management which kind of implementation will meet your needs and then develop a strategy that drives the system towards your desired results.

Questions to ask yourself:

How familiar are you with SharePoint Online as a framework?

There are two main aspects to SharePoint Online, one is of a more technical nature while the other is more user-based. Your experience may involve both of these aspects. The more experience you have with SharePoint Online, the more easily you will grasp the learning curve with Flex365x.

Have you ever implemented a software application prior to this?

Understanding and accepting that a variety of situations can and will arise during the process of implementation and beyond will help you to expect the unexpected and manage the frustration associated with these situations.

How much confidence do you have in your position in the company?

This may seem like a strange question to ask but even the most experienced technical people need support and inexperienced managers often end up between a rock and a hard place when asking for service support budgets if their superiors don’t understand why they need assistance. If the person spearheading the project downplays the support they feel might be needed, this can impact the overall success of the program delivery.

How does your organization view service support associated with software purchases?

Some companies shirk at spending money on user training and user support services with external resources. If this is the case, it may be wise to budget for more than you think you need. It isn’t necessary to spend the entire budget but going back for more money further down the line may be difficult.

Have you outlined the priorities for the software and the immediate paybacks that the company will receive?

It’s important to have some of the goals and objectives laid out. This will give everyone involved a sense of the priorities and a focus on the implementation plan. This will also help determine the amount of support services that you need.

How much time do you have available on the project?

Although some people are given the time to properly manage a new software roll out, there are also many that are expected to manage the implementation whilst doing their full time job. In the latter case, failing to purchase an adequate amount of application support may cause the project to fail.

Who do you want to manage the project?

When it comes to purchasing support services you can opt for higher level (and more expensive) skills from a consultant who will take over the project and manage all the pieces as things move along. Alternatively you can manage the project yourself and use a support service person who is available to answer your questions as they arise. The difference in implementation costs between these two options can be quite significant, so it’s something to think about.

Who will train your users?

If you are planning on training your users then you will need to learn the software well prior to the implementation phase. This may encourage you to allow for more paid support time as there is often more to understanding the software than just a few features and forms. Understanding the nuances well enough to teach them to others requires a thorough understanding and knowledge of the program.

What if the software lacks a feature that you assumed it had?

It will inevitably happen that assumptions are made during a purchase phase. Even if a Proof of Concept process is undertaken, there will most likely be a realization along the way that some functionality is required that doesn’t exist in the software. You might consider requesting Senior Management approval of a contingency fund to be added to the budget prior to implementation.

No matter how much money is spent on the software and services, attempting to match business requirements and software is not easy and unforeseen questions will probably arise. Thankfully there are several ways to deal with these situations.

One is to adapt business procedures so that the lack of functionality doesn’t impact user utilization of the software. Another option is to set the limitation aside to deal with at a later date or to have the software company add the required adaptations, extensions or automations.

If the above questions are considered and their answers presented to the software vendor, a more reasonable estimation of support time can be provided.

Although the purchase of software support services is often minimized by companies, it can be done at the peril of a successful implementation program. Introducing new software into established business processes involves change, and change takes time to adapt to.