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are all requirements clearly defined, is the contract clear and transparent? Or do expenses and costs still need to be clarified with the provider?



Often, the contract with the manufacturer and the service provider is not fully and adequately formulated. As always, this becomes apparent in case of disputes. Who bears the additional costs? Was it a change request? Who is responsible for it? Doesn’t the contract cover this as well?

Therefore, we advise taking enough time for contract negotiations after the basic decision for a manufacturer. This always pays off in the long run. And it doesn’t even have to be a dispute over money. It already helps if the contract serves as a guideline for good cooperation among the manufacturer, service provider, hosting partner, and possibly third-party providers.

What should be considered from a technical, software, and hardware perspective?

Technical issues during implementation include hosting (where?), cloud solution, what type of cloud or own data center. What third-party licenses are necessary and drive costs? Who performs the technical setup: test installation and maintenance of the live system (server landscape, firewall, etc.)

And let’s not forget about bandwidth. How many Mbps does the line from the data center have? How much reaches the user?

How do you manage your project team and the service provider(s)?

A CRM project is always a balancing act. As described above, a good contract can already be a good guideline. Nevertheless, the client needs a strong project manager. Possibly even two. Because from the beginning, the project course is not a walk in the park. Implementing a CRM solution quickly demands 30% or 50% of an employee’s time.

Therefore, one of our most important demands before starting the implementation is: relieve your key employees. Stop, or better yet, finish the project work that is still running in parallel. Delegate tasks to other employees. A success criterion is that project managers also have time for project management tasks. This is a part-time job. It can’t be done on the side.

On the one hand, you need a project management method, good and intensive communication, clearly defined project rules, clean documentation, timely defined deadlines (with the project team as well as with the steering committee).

Customizing and additional programming

If the standard, as often, is not sufficient, the user demands adaptations to the CRM processes. This can happen through customizing. Or in the more complex, usually more time-consuming case, through additional programming? In any case, when selecting the right CRM system, there should already be a very precise estimate of what additional programming might be needed in the next 2 to 3 years. We clarify this in advance with an Excel table containing all requirements. The CRM provider then has to provide a cost estimate for each point. It doesn’t have to be exact. But the estimate should be precise enough to determine whether it involves 2 to 3 days, 5 to 7 days, or 20 to 30 days of effort.

Tip: Clarify in advance whether additional programming increases the base for the license fee and thus the maintenance costs.

Are the requirements for customizing or additional programming clearly formulated? Customizing sounds like no effort from the manufacturer’s mouth, but it does require effort. If the client is aware that they will need customizing repeatedly, it is advisable to train a team of 2 or 3 people to handle the customizing in the future. This saves money and nerves.

During the CRM implementation of an ERP system, the managing director refused to train employees for customizing and additional programming. Unfortunately, he had to pay a very high price for this after 2 1/2 years of project duration and a 100% cost increase. He could have hired at least one person for this. Your own know-how pays off in the long run. In general, technology issues are increasing. Demand in IT is increasing rather than decreasing.

Testing, testing, testing, and the testing phase before rollout

Once the adjustments through customizing or programming are done, testing is essential. The user writes a test protocol, documents what was good or less good. Then it’s time for optimization. And if everything works, then approval is given.

During the CRM project, testing takes place. But testing is even more important before rollout. Individual tests, mass tests, stress tests, … It’s best to reserve a weekend, free the employees from their daily work, and let them concentrate on comprehensive testing.

How do you ensure clean data in the CRM system? Import and migration

A perennial issue within customer relationship management is address and data quality. This effort is underestimated in almost every project. It starts with cleaning up fields and addresses. It continues with field mapping. These are enormous time-consuming discussions and decisions. Which data to delete, which not to transfer, to delete them provisionally or not? What new data can be derived from existing data? Can incorrect field contents be transferred to the appropriate field? Can this be done automatically via a program or only manually?

Integration of third-party systems? Interfaces and APIs

With every new CRM system, interfaces to other systems are established. Whether e-commerce, call center, document management system, content management system, email marketing system…, the customer usually has a very colorful solution. Once again, NO standard.

How do you integrate these third-party systems or other new systems? How deep is the integration between the systems? Uni- or bidirectional? With REST, SOAP, or ODBC interfaces. Is there integration via Zapier? How often does data exchange need to take place? Real-time, every 5 minutes, every hour, every evening.

There may also be apps in the AppExchange world of Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, or other manufacturers that support this issue.


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