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Not all CRM trials are created equal – 9 crucial questions

Proof of concept. Trial. Test drive. Prototype and Pilot. There are many different terms used for a way to evaluate a CRM software solution before making the plunge, right? And they’re all pretty much the same thing? Wrong!

I’m not suggesting that a cursory 30 day trial has no value. It might help you get familiar with the user interface and tools. It might give you chance to explore the technology set-up. But in that time, you’re not realistically going to apply the solution to the genuine customer journeys in your organisation. You won’t have any more understanding than you did at the start of whether you can effectively deploy this solution to improve your marketing, operations, sales or project management, to the overall benefit of the business. And that’s what you need.

A CRM solution is a big investment, so your executive team needs to be convinced that the benefits are more than a list of marketing promises in a brochure.

From my experience, only a structured Pilot provides a reliable stepping stone that allows you to make a meaningful evaluation. That’s because unlike a Proof of Concept, Trial or Test Drive, a Pilot has clear parameters and it tied to real business outcomes that impact your organisation’s performance:

– Its scope is clearly defined and restricted to one or two processes
– It includes the live running of those processes in your business, using the software for a prescribed period
– At the outset there is definition of the business outcome you want to deliver in the limited Pilot, along with a set of measures which will be used to objectively evaluate its performance.

Of course this means that a Pilot needs planning and investment. But when the alternative is an uncontrolled, ad-hoc exploration of a software solution (in a few spare minutes during your lunch hour?) that could lead to a major investment decision, it is a relatively small price to pay.  Only a properly structured and defined Pilot will give a true reading of the value and potential that a solution could return to the business.

A well-executed Pilot will definitively answer these crucial questions:

  1. Is this the right technology?
  2. Did we see evidence of its ability to deliver a desired business outcome?  Was there a high level of acceptance and adoption from the team?
  3. Is this the right partner?
  4. What value did the consulting team we engaged add? Did they bring expertise and insight and gel well with my team?
  5. How well did we execute?
  6. Were we able to dedicate the time?
  7. Did we manage the scope, expectations, internal communications and vendors? 
  8. Were we able to identify the business outcomes for the Pilot, then work backwards to map the processes and measures to support it?
  9. Do we know our business as well as we thought we did?

Along with quantified business results of the Pilot, these are the insights you’ll need to make a good decision about moving forward to a wider roll-out of CRM. What are the benefits of a CRM Pilot?

Xpedition offers consulting for a CRM Pilot, using these principles. We can deliver a short and punchy engagement to prove or disprove value and help you take a confident first step on the CRM journey.