5 Tips for Implementing CRM Governance After a Merger

By Elizabeth Mankowski

So your company acquired a new business (or you’ve been acquired yourself!). What does that mean for your CRM?

Imagine this: you’re the Vice President of Sales at Acme Co. You rolled out a newly configured SugarCRM to your field sales team last year. Adoption was strong: opportunities and leads are logged, and everyone uses the CRM for their weekly check-ins. You have better visibility of your opportunity revenue forecasts than ever before.

This year, your firm acquired another organization that runs a related business. They did not have a CRM, so you want to bring them into your existing CRM. But their sales cycle is a little different because they often provide product samples, but you rarely do. Their products are a little different: your widgets vary only in color and size. Theirs vary by color, size, and materials. They prefer monthly reports, while your team works toward quarterly goals.

How will you decide how to use the CRM going forward as a combined team?

Enter: CRM Governance

CRM Governance is a fancy way to say, “Who, how, and when will we make changes to our CRM going forward?”

As Director of our CRM Practice at Highland, I have identified five key strategies for implementing a successful CRM Governance:

1. Share the vision

Make sure everyone in your organization understands what strategic initiatives the CRM is designed to support. This includes more than just your Sales and Marketing team members. IT, operations, finance — all these folks should be able to articulate your Sales Vision and how the CRM helps to achieve it. If you have a third-party implementation partner, share the vision with them as well.

2. Share the timeline

Most strategic plans are framed in a timeline of two to five years. Your customer experience platform will also evolve over this timeline. Articulate for yourself and all your supporting team what changes are expected when. Define dependencies and major business events.

A sample timeline for CRM Governance | Image provided by Elizabeth Mankowski

3. Delegate and empower

Identify one or two CRM administrators within your organization who are responsible for executing the vision and timeline. Check-in with them periodically, but free yourself from the day-to-day management of CRM enhancements.

4. Gather the right expertise

Identify representatives from your current sales team and the newly acquired team to participate on a joint team or governance board. Pull in additional resources as needed. When deciding who should be involved, it can be helpful to create a system map showing how your CRM will connect to other essential technology systems within your organization:

CRM System Map | Created byTyler Etters

Are you ready to integrate your CRM with a marketing automation platform to scale your digital campaigns? Then call a meeting with your CRM administrators and the marketing automation experts. Promote transparency around expectations, scope, timeline, budget, and any other project variables.

When considering integration between your CRM and ERP systems, bring your IT leaders to the discussion. Articulate your vision, then let your experts craft a solution proposal. Scheduling regular meetings during the solution definition phase, as well as throughout the project, will provide checkpoints to validate that everyone is still on the same path, moving toward the same vision.

5. Set an ongoing cadence

Leveraging the most value from your CRM rarely happens by taking a one-and-done approach. Just as your product offerings continue to evolve through research and development, so too should your CRM platform. Regular channels and cadence for receiving feedback from the field reps on the front lines, who use the system the most, can provide insights you may miss. When your sales processes grow and change, your system should reflect those changes in a timely manner.

Scheduling regular meetings for each of the groups involved with CRM governance, implementation, and usage will help everyone keep the focus on the strategic vision and over-arching timeline.

Successful CRM Governance is like farming— you need to till the land to harvest a strong crop.

An analogy that may be helpful here:

A gardener once bought a plot of land covered with rocks, trees, and an old broken-down fence. She spent the first spring and summer clearing the land to make it tillable.

By late summer, she had sowed her first crop of winter wheat. As the first snow fell, she harvested this wheat and considered her real estate investment a success. The next season, she planted wheat again, although the crop yield was slightly less. Her neighbor advised her to rotate her crops, so the third season, she planted corn, and again reaped a bountiful harvest. In the fourth season, she again planted corn, but drought hit hard, and the harvest was meager. In the fifth season, all the prognosticators called for drought again, so she planted chickpeas.

Like this gardener who evolved her plantings with weather and soil conditions, so too must your CRM evolve to meet market conditions, new product offerings, company mergers, and staffing changes over time. Adaptation will allow you to continue to recognize value from your investment, whether that be a tract of land or a CRM system.

This blog was originally posted on The Highland Journal