Best Practice

Implementing a CRM system successfully: tips and checklist

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Customer management software can make your company and especially your processes more efficient. But implementing a CRM system can be a real challenge.

In this blog article, we'll tell you what you should pay attention to if you want to introduce a CRM system in your company. With the help of our practical checklist, the introduction of the new software is guaranteed.

Before the introduction: What is a CRM and what can it do?

CRM stands for customer relationship management, in German: customer relationship management. The three letters describe several things at once:

  • Often used for softwares, which is used to manage customers, CRM said.
  • However, this also allows the strategy This means that you document and improve the relationship with potential and existing contacts.
  • However, CRM can also provide a trial mean: from initial contact to maintaining contacts.

In order to successfully implement a CRM, you need to think about the benefits, the challenges and, of course, the selection of the right software.

Such software has many advantages, which are not only for large companies but also Small businesses can benefit from CRM software. First and foremost, such software improves customer communication and provides an overview of all steps that arise in this context.

Mann im Büro hält Einführung, während er ein CRM System auf dem Laptop telefonisch bespricht.
The introduction of a CRM system optimizes your sales department.

At any time, your team members know which offer was sent to which customer, what your sales team discussed with the contact, and what questions this customer has sent to your support team. Of course, these are just a few examples.

If you're thinking about implementing a CRM system, that's a first step towards efficiency. In addition, such a tool helps your company: To successfully digitize processes.

CRM implementation in the company: step-by-step guide

The introduction of CRM systems can generally be divided into 5 steps:

  1. Planning phase: They define goals and make preliminary considerations. Before implementing CRM, you should also create a project plan.
  1. Selection phase: You select the appropriate provider or develop your CRM system yourself.
  1. Implementation phase: You introduce CRM to your company by migrating all data, adapting the system to your needs and integrating it into existing processes.
  1. Training or use phase: You train your employees and actively use CRM.
  1. Assessment phase: You evaluate your experience with CRM, get feedback from the team and continue to optimize processes.

When you introduce CRM software, you should be aware that it is not a completed process. When processes in the company change, the CRM system must also necessarily change and grow with needs.

Team bei einer Besprechung im hellen Büro, wobei eine Einführung in ein CRM System auf dem Laptop gezeigt wird.
The introduction of a CRM system helps every department and every employee to work more efficiently.

Step 1: The planning phase

Every company is different. Instead of following your software, your CRM should adapt to you. Accordingly, it is also important to consider in advance what exactly you need. Before you implement the CRM system, you should therefore think about what you actually need.

  • Which processes should your CRM map? The selection of software is as diverse as the corporate landscape. It is best to write down the processes that CRM should take care of for you. For example, do you have a form on your website that potential customers can use to contact you and now want the information to flow automatically into your CRM? Do you want a system that also allows you write invoices digitally Can?
  • When and where do you want to use your CRM? There is CRM software that can be used not only on the desktop, but also via an app, so you can easily take all data with you to the construction site. If you regularly travel to places where you cannot access the Internet, it is also worthwhile looking for a system that is available offline.
  • Do you have any other programs that you already use? If this is the case, it is essential that your CRM can be integrated into the existing system. So before you start with the introduction, you should check whether integrations are possible or interfaces are available. An alternative would be to switch to a complete solution and thus reduce the remaining tools.
  • What else is important to you? List all features that are particularly important to you before you introduce your CRM system: How much do you value fast support should there be problems? Do you want to send emails to your customers regularly, for example when you have planned discount campaigns? Are you still growing, which is why your CRM also needs to be scalable?

You don't have to buy a ready-made CRM system — if you want special processes, it might be worth creating a CRM yourself. A ready-made solution that cannot be adapted to your needs can result in you working inefficiently and have to create workarounds at some point in order to be able to use certain features for your company.

Geschäftsfrau führt CRM System, vor Kollegen anhand einer Präsentation auf Whiteboard, im Büro ein.
If you want to introduce a CRM system, you must jointly analyze all previous processes and possibly also revise them.

Why you You shouldn't make compromises with your CRM, read elsewhere. Just this much: You have more choices than buying a rigid standard solution and developing your own CRM.

Before you introduce CRM software, you should also learn about low-code platforms such as Ninox. With Ninox CRM for example, do you have a ready-made solution, which, however, can be specifically adapted to your needs.

But think of your customers too. How do you contact potential customers? Who is your target group? What problems, questions and suggestions do your contacts have? What's the next step after making contact? This is called a customer journey and describes the “journey” that contacts make to buy your product or use your service.

You can lose time and money due to a lack of communication across all departments. Introducing a CRM system is particularly worthwhile here, as all employees access a centralized database and are always up-to-date. However, the question is also: Who should be able to see which data? Define your first roles.

CRM implementation: Don't forget the project plan!

For the CRM implementation, you should also create a project plan to get an overview of all tasks. It can be structured as follows:

  1. Project structure plan: Break down all tasks that need to be completed into sub-projects and work packages. Here is a list of what to do and when. Tasks include entering the data into the system, integrating the tool into the existing system, training employees and creating a knowledge database with helpful tips for your team.
  1. Project schedule: In order to be able to successfully implement CRM, you should now also plan when something needs to be done. Set a start date and an end date. It is important to consider dependencies here: Task 1 cannot be completed by employee A until employee B has completed task 2. Take these dependencies into account in the schedule as well.
  1. Cost plan: For a successful CRM implementation in a company, it is essential to estimate and control costs. This includes not only the costs of software or platform development, but also any fees for training. And of course, it also costs your employees time spent training or data transmission. For example, if all employees in a department spend a day training, they can't do anything else during that time, which costs your company money. There are software providers who charge additional costs for CRM implementation, for example fees for onboarding. Find out here in good time what else is in store for you.
  1. Resource plan: What do you need to implement your CRM system? Which employees, tools and materials are needed? It is also important to talk about prioritization here. If your employees have other important projects and tasks, you have to leave them behind.

Also remember to get your employees on board before you implement CRM. Ask your team what they need to work more efficiently. This not only increases appreciation and satisfaction, but also efficiency during use. After all, it is they who will largely use CRM later on.

Step 2: The selection phase

The search for the right CRM software is difficult and lengthy. Don't let that scare you off and take the time to get to know all providers on the market.

Some CRM software services offer trial periods or demos, so you can take a look at the tool in detail before you roll it out. In the demos, ask very specific questions about how your internal processes can be mapped with them. Mention your existing programs, ask how many clicks can be used to retrieve or store information from customers, whether there are role and user rights, etc.

At this stage of implementing the CRM system at the latest, you should clarify who exactly is responsible for the project. Who makes decisions when it comes to software? Define all decision makers and supporters — this helps you so that people also feel responsible for the project.

Lächelnder Mitarbeiter mit Headset am Computer während der CRM Einführung im Unternehmen.
Your employees will use the CRM system. Accordingly, they should also be part of the introduction in the company.

Also set limits. Of course, everyone wants to have something to say when it comes to launching a new CRM. However, you also have to make compromises when it comes to transparency. Who is involved in the implementation, who helps with the selection of processes and software? What are our goals? Limits are also important when it comes to this question so that you don't set yourself too much on.

Step 3: The implementation phase

You have selected the software and are ready to implement the CRM software. Congratulations! Work on your project plan now and define a schedule by when everything should be completed.

Since you've already identified stakeholders from the previous step, your team now knows exactly what needs to be done.

Collect all data in the form of Excel spreadsheets or exports from previous software and incorporate them into the CRM. However, it is important that you should start with a test project first. Before you move all the data and later realize that you still need to adjust something about the software, you should name a pilot project.

Select some data and play through your process with the team. Are there still any requests for changes or problems? If you use a low-code solution such as Ninox CRM, for example, you can easily adapt your software to your needs.

Step 4: The usage phase

After you've tried out the process with a pilot project, you can now roll out the CRM system to the entire team. Be particularly sensitive here. Employees who have been with the company for a long time often react emotionally to changes. Make it clear to your team how the new system benefits them.

Geschäftsteam bei einer Besprechung zur Einführung eines CRM Systems im hellen Konferenzraum.
The introduction of a CRM system is the start of digitization and collaboration in companies.

Think of training courses and meetings where you talk about implementing the CRM system. A knowledge database with small guide articles helps employees look up questions. Be open to feedback as well. If your employees feel comfortable with the process and CRM, that's half the battle.

Step 5: The evaluation phase

Write down problems and challenges and try to solve them. If you can't do this alone, you must contact the provider's support team. We work at Ninox with numerous partners, which help you adapt the software to your processes and integrate it into your existing system. Accordingly, you always have a contact person here who will answer any question you may have.

CRM implementation made easy: The checklist

Of course, you've read this article carefully, but for those in a hurry, the following is a checklist that will help you implement your CRM system well:

  • View and note down all processes in the company as they are: processes for acquiring new customers, servicing existing customers and supporting existing customers
  • Analyze the process from the customer's perspective: Can it still be optimized?
  • Define project participants (for IT, for processes, for testing, for decisions, etc.)
  • Get feedback from employees
  • Agree on goals, time period and tasks
  • Define CRM system requirements (interfaces, mobile app, etc.)
  • Add test data to software and start a pilot project
  • Create online reference book for employees & organize training
  • Establish feedback process for employees on suggestions for improving the CRM system

Build exactly what you need — nothing more, nothing less.