8 step guide to implementing a CRM system
19 February 2016 - Devi Clark

Helping your business run more smoothly: an 8 step guide to implementing a CRM system

Do you keep your to do list on a scrap of paper or a Excel spreadsheet? Do you struggle to prioritise your activities or keep track of your invoicing? Are you unaware how many customers you have to contact to break even at the end of the month?

A CRM system is designed to help you with all these things and more. It is a vital component of a scaled business – supporting your growth as you generate more customers and more team members need to know what is going on. A CRM should help you see the wood for the trees as you manager your time, provide you with business data and ensure that you don’t have to re-take decisions again and again.

Although setting up a CRM takes time and thought, this becomes an investment in your business which streamlines your operations and takes out time and cost.


How can we implement a CRM?

The CRM represents all the flows of information, within your company or with its customers. Because there is operations and data to be gathered and many team members may be affected by the system, it is not easy to create a new one.

The system alone won’t result in success. Before starting, it is worth taking time to analyse, plan and then carefully implement by involving all the relevant people in your organisation, especially as creating a bad system can potentially be worse than having no system at all.

The evolution will be more successful if driven by a clear change management strategy, which takes into consideration the readiness and the motivations for the change, the goals of the project and the strategy to get there.

  1. Map your current systems, data flows and actions

To give you a clear picture of your current systems and processes, it is useful to map the customer journey from the point of acquisition to the phase of post-sale customer service. Along this journey, several contact points between the firm and the customer can be analysed.

During this mapping process you can understand which type of data is transmitted and how it is originated, whether it is inputted manually or automatically from another data flow, and then where it goes next. For example, does the marketing manager have to know the how many days it has been since your last order? Is the accountant interested in knowing the final delivery location? This process map will help you to understand the necessary, nice-to-have and unnecessary processes for each part of your organisation.

One tool for analysing this is called the MoSCoW Rule. Prioritise each data flow and activity on the basis of four simple categories: Must, Should, Could and Won’t.

Now we have a list of flows, each of which has a priority. We can now map our new CRM by firstly importing the Must category, then the Should and so on.

  1. Get clear on your priorities

Ask yourself what success looks like. Are you hoping to grow your sales or maintain relationships with existing customers? Do you need a simple way for new team members to understand what to do when they join the company? Are you hoping to reduce the number of missed opportunities or keep track of your KPIs?

Whatever you choose as your primary goal will influence what and how you implement first. It is also an opportunity for your team to agree its priorities.

The CRM system can manage:

  • marketing campaign tracking, emails, social media, PR and case studies

  • sales pipeline and contracts that are won or lost

  • client relationships and when to trigger management intervention

  • impact measurement, tracking outputs and outcomes for your beneficiaries

  • project management details, including activities, progress reports and contact details

  • HR information about your team

  • financial management, including invoices and expenses

But implementing all this at once is likely to overwhelm the business, so start with one priority area.

Get clear on what success really looks like for your business. Is it about growing sales, maintaining relationships with customers as you grow or invoice management, for example.


  1. Assess whether you ready to implement the CRM

Identify any problems or inconsistencies, however petty they seem, because as you scale a process, each problem will also be magnified. From the data flow from the IT department to the number of email addresses your sales manager has, from the number of possible customers to the quantity of emails you have not replied to, everything is going to get bigger as the operations expand.

  1. Decide who is driving the change

It is worth having one influential person in the organisation to co-ordinate the change, to ensure that it stays on the agenda and is given the focus needed. But there needs to be buy-in from throughout the enterprise. Changing one part of a system tends to change other things too, and involving those across the organisation can help you to predict and respond to these in a timely way.

  1. Map the new system before implementing the change

Having mapped your existing processes and got clear on what your priorities are for implementation, it is now worth mapping the new system and the KPIs you wish to gather.

Start by thinking about what inputs there are to your system. This might be a new customer enquiry, for example. What should happen next? Who will respond and by when? Map the actions, decisions and people that are involved at each stage. Remember, you are going to be automating the next steps of the process or triggers for people to take action or decisions, so make sure each action or decision leads to another step in the process, until you reach the end.

Having mapped the system, you can more easily work out how it fits with your CRM to ensure that it is set up correctly, and that you can train users in a clear manner.

  1. Choose a system that works well for your business

Choosing the CRM system appropriate for your business means taking into account a range of issues including: the price, the system capabilities, the number of users you have now and in future, whether there are different levels of access for different users, whether there is a specific sector specialist reason for using a CRM, what analytics come from the system, the level of data storage, the track record and customer service of the company and the security and data backup they provide.

  1. Keep the system simple for the users

Having mapped the process and chosen a CRM to use, remember to implement it in a way that means it is as simple to use as possible. Present your data clearly on each page. Ensure there is help text where needed. Include templates where possible to prevent the need to re-invent the wheel.

  1. Implement with training

Any tool is only as good as its users. A database of customers is only useful if customer data is entered. A team member’s next action may only be triggered if a colleague confirms a previous action has been taken. Ensuring that your team understands how the system works and why it matters is vital to its success. If done successfully, the training will ensure that everyone who needs to be engaged is able to use the system and reap its benefits.


This blog was written by Nicolo’ Bertolini and Devi Clark following a training session run by Heather Black from Economic Change.


Economic Change provides management solutions to help organisations improve their efficiency, sustainability and socio-economic impact. We help our clients to develop their service offer, streamline business processes and evaluate their customer experience to ultimately maximise their impact. Our combined expertise in business management, system design and social impact helps us to produce the best outcome for our clients. We are passionate about supporting organisations that strive to make an impact by tackling an economic, social or environmental cause. Our client list includes charities, educational bodies, public sector organisations, social enterprises, ethical businesses, and csr departments of organisations.