Implementing CRM projects: the role of external stakeholders

The implementation of a CRM project generally requires the intervention of several internal and external resources, including consultants, vendors, integrators, your IT team, marketing, etc.

Of course how many parties are involved depends from many aspects such as the type of CRM system (on premise or SaaS-based), the scale of the project, the specific needs you have, etc.

However, for the people that are responsible for the implementation within the company it’s not always easy to grasp what the role of each external partner is. Furthermore, it’s often difficult to define the tasks and scope for each partner. Imagine the integrator who also provides counselling.

The role of the CRM vendor

CRM vendors all have their own go-to-market strategies, channels and implementation strategies. And let’s be honest: much depends on the size and importance of the company.

For the customer, it’s often confusing. Which partner does what? Why does the implementation of some solutions involves several service providers? And how can you coordinate all this in order to get the CRM project implemented successfully?

Although the role of the vendor is to develop, sustain and improve his applications, they often extend their field of intervention. They then propose a tailor-made adaptation of their platform according to the customer’s needs.

However, in complex implementations you will often see many intervening providers and partners.

CRM integrators and consultants

The role of the CRM integrator is to adapt and develop in order that the application meets the needs of the customer. The integrator has many responsibilities including audits, functional analysis, technical tasks and, well, ‘getting things done’.

CRM consultants or experts help you during the strategic phase, assist in analyzing the feasibility of (parts of) the project and help you choosing a solution. Ideally, this means that they are independent of CRM vendors or other partners but sometimes there is a wide gap between how things are and how they should be.

Consultants also often assist the project owners, help with change management processes and play a central role in making all the internal and external parties involved work together and ensure that the coordination and implementation of all aspects of the CRM project succeed, as well regarding the technological and practical aspects as regarding the people and process aspects.

It’s important to have the right team and people in place to make a CRM project work so it’s also important to find the right external partners. Most experts agree that the choice of the right team is crucial and that many CRM projects fail because of the human aspect.

Many – including me – even claim that in the end the choice of a CRM solution is less important than finding the right partners and setting up the right processes. And don’t forget people. Never forget people.