6 Steps for a Successful CRM Implementation Process

Why is a successful CRM implementation process so difficult? We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be.

Finding and implementing a CRM that perfectly fits your company’s needs might seem daunting. The challenges in CRM implementation can be quite overwhelming; but with a little bit of planning, a lot of these complications can be avoided. 

What defines a successful CRM implementation? 

The challenges of CRM implementation can be never-ending. However, a few CRM implementation best practices should help the whole process run a lot more smoothly. 

This is why we’ve whipped up this nifty CRM implementation guide! 

In this CRM implementation guide, we’ll cover: 

  • Creating a CRM implementation team
  • How to make a change management plan
  • How to forecast a CRM implementation budget
  • Best practices for rolling out the new system – migrating data 
  • How to plan for going live with your CRM
  • How to measure the success of your CRM implementation project

Let’s dig in!

1. Create the right CRM implementation team

The basics of building a successful CRM implementation team include: 

  • Project manager: the leader during the CRM implementation process
  • Application analyst: migrates and cleans your data
  • Application developer: handles system customization
  • QA test engineer: tests the CRM before implementation 
  • Representatives from the sales, marketing, product, and customer service

Considering what each of these group’s roles in your CRM implementation project will be will help your team adopt your CRM much more effectively. If your team doesn’t see the value of implementing a CRM, they may be very quick to abandon your new power tool or even worse — sabotage its success. 

creating the right crm implementation team

2. Make a change management plan

A change management plan helps to map out the introduction of a CRM into your everyday workflow. 

Here is what a change management plan for CRM implementation should do:

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your CRM implementation team 

Is your team techy, or are they noobs? Do they adapt well to new things, or do they despise change? Are they too attached to their old ways?

Addressing these potential challenges ahead of time and overcoming concerns before implementing your CRM solution can make or break the entire process. 

You guessed it: plan and manage change after implementing your CRM

This part of the CRM implementation process is comprised of four key components: 


  • User training and engagement
  • Data migration
  • Testing 
  • Go-live





You should also consider how your team plans to track the CRM implementation process; whether this is through Google Docs or some sort of other workflows, it’s important to remain consistent with your tracking and to check in with your team regularly. 

Let the stakeholders know about the update

This is a biggie: clarify the value of adding a CRM to your team, allow room for feedback, and be patient about people adapting to the CRM implementation. It’s important that your team fully understands why a CRM is an essential part of the business’ growth, otherwise, they may not see the value in learning how to use it. 

Additionally, you don’t have to rush your CRM implementation. Give everyone time to adjust! If your team doesn’t feel pressured to learn something new too quickly, there won’t be any tension that might make them resent the process as a whole. 

how to successfully implement a crm

3. Forecast a CRM implementation budget 

Dollars aren’t the only thing you can waste by not forecasting a CRM implementation budget or by integrating too many unnecessary features into your CRM; valuable hours of time can also be lost trying to fit square pegs into circular holes. 

Project managers sometimes underestimate the cost of implementing a CRM. Here are a few ways to avoid any last-minute surprises: 

Consider peripheral costs

These include:

  • Consultancy fees
  • Training 
  • Other vendor implementation services (e.g project management, data migration, customization)
  • Overtime wages
  • Reduced productivity
  • Data backup and storage

Understand the ROI

Quantify the benefits of implementing a CRM. Put a number on it to help balance out the costs.

Understand potential risks

Of course, there are things that can go wrong when implementing any new software (including a CRM). Maybe your company needs a CRM with contact privacy (like Nimble) to ensure that only certain teams can access specific contact information. 

A risk assessment will help you find the right CRM solution for your business needs without spending too much on features your team may not need while taking into account the ones that you do. 

4. Establish best practices for migrating data

You definitely want a clear, concise plan for your CRM data migration before you start dumping information into your new database. 

Create a high-level overview of what you need to migrate and how it will be used in the new CRM. Downloading and uploading Excel or CSV files is a simple way to migrate data, but you need to make sure the files are organized and clean before doing so. Fixing the data after it’s already in your CRM can prove to be a huge pain and may deter your team from using it.

Before migrating, take out unnecessary contacts, outdated information, and anything else you don’t need in your CRM software. This can be a fresh new start for your team as they learn how to effectively manage their contacts at scale. 

For example, it’s possible to import your LinkedIn connections into Nimble by downloading them from your LinkedIn account and then using our CSV import to bring them into your CRM, always making sure that you and your teammates are applying tags to all contact imports. 

If you want to make sure that your LinkedIn contacts are always up to date in your Nimble accounts, you can either run this export and import periodically or you can use our Nimble Prospector browser extension to bring them in as you add them to your LinkedIn network. Nimble will always automatically merge all duplicates if they have the same email address, keeping your database clean and tidy. 

Make sure everyone’s on the same page

There are many ways to go about training your team, but probably the most effective method is face-to-face. Even though that might be hard to do at the moment due to remote working, screen shares and meetings on Slack or Teams are also effective methods. 

training your team to use a crm

5. Plan for going live with your CRM implementation

This part of your CRM implementation process is a huge opportunity for training and instilling data migration best practices. At Nimble, we often tell teams to agree on a uniform tagging system with their contact imports. 

For example: “Megan Ranger- LinkedIn Contacts 12.2.2020” or “Megan Ranger- Marketing Leads Fall 2020”

In addition to your data, you should also plan ahead for any speedbumps. Here are some things to keep in mind before setting your CRM implementation live: 

  • Staff scheduling and making sure the right people are available
  • Agreeing on the metrics for project success
  • Creating a gameplan for any potential system hiccups
  • Checking network speed and reliability of your CRM
  • Data backup processes

6. Measure the success of your CRM implementation project

Identify your targets and track them on a regular basis. Although your targets will vary based on your individual business needs, here are a few common KPIs business teams use to track the success of their CRM implementation: 

  • System activity– are people actually using the CRM? If not, why?
  • Record update tracking– are people actually engaging with the data they’re adding to the CRM?
  • Business metrics– has your team noticed an increase in closed deals after utilizing a CRM?
  • Efficiency- is your team working better together? 

Again, there are many ways to measure the success of a CRM implementation project. These are just a few of the most popular ones to keep in mind. 

How to Get Started

If you do not have a Nimble account yet, we invite you to try it for free for 14 days.

Stay tuned for more product announcements as we evolve Nimble into the best CRM for Office 365 and G Suite teams.

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