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Implementation of CRM.Notes from the battlefield

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Implementation of CRM.Notes from the battlefield

Chapter 1. Goals:

The analysis of the CRM systems on the market and the choice of the most convenient for the end user (construction material sales manager)
2. Configuring this system to meet the needs of the company (construction and sale of building materials)
3. Creating a Russian manual for the system use
4. Conducting briefings on the use of the system.

Chapter 2: The Need for CRM.

Attempts to centrally manage the relationship between managers and customers using traditional methods often fail – there is no system in place to delicately track the performance of certain tasks, keep statistics, or effectively redirect the efforts of employees from active management to passive management and vice versa. Gross mistakes made in this area lead to the rupture of business relationships with clients, unforeseen losses and ruined reputation of the firm. Executive directors grasp at their heads, solving petty problems, but meanwhile the snowball of anarchy grows and, one day, collapses on their heads, exposing the incompetence of the manager.
In an unfavorable economic situation, firing an executive director, who in seven cases out of ten is the "honored" manager of the company, is a shocking measure, and its effectiveness is close to zero – another manager is likely to take his place – and everything will start all over again.
Of course, there are no ways to raise an unequivocally great leader, but there are ways to minimize the possibility of minor systemic errors. My grandparents (and my parents used to, too) used an elaborate bureaucracy for this purpose – memos, statements, case logs… and a huge pile of other paperwork. When there were large volumes of sales and production, special people were hired whose main task was to analyze these papers, make statistics, find the weaknesses of the management system and prevent mistakes if possible. All was well, until the high mobility and convertibility of mass production demanded the relevance and accuracy of the information obtained – and only the introduction of automated systems of management, control and information collection allowed modern companies to take into account all the wishes of customers, improving the quality of service, while reducing the bureaucracy.
Now when the purchase of decent computing power is a modest expenditure item for an average firm, more and more managers come to the conclusion that the introduction of automated accounting and manufacturing systems is not enough for the successful functioning of the firm, because those for whom actually all companies are fighting in a tough competition – customers – remain without systematization, accounting and in most cases centralized management. No matter how good the manager is, but without the CRM system, sooner or later problems will start.
Of course, blindly assert that the CRM – the system – a panacea for all customer troubles, at least silly, but this very system helps to discipline managers and allows the executive director to deal with his direct responsibilities, rather than correcting the mistakes of managers.

Chapter 3: Analyzing CRM systems.

Of course, the idea of creation and implementation of CRM-systems is not new, and the main reason why these systems are not implemented everywhere is the high cost of the system (problem 1) and its support (problem 2). The need for staff training also scared away more than one manager (problem 3). In the process of setting up the system, there are problems associated with the fact that the specific requirements of the industry are not represented in the rather general architectures of these systems(problem 4).
Problems 1 and 4 are solved by using OpenSource systems. As it turned out later, the myth of the high cost of supporting such systems is just a myth. Difficulties encountered in the process of personnel training are discussed in Chapter 5.
The following CRM systems were considered :

The only two that made it to the finals of our competition were Leopard CRM and Sugar CRM
If Leopard is completely free and distributed under GPL license, with SugarCRM there is some confusion. On the official site you can only download a trial version with limited functionality. sourceforge.net you can download the whole source code of the Enterprise Edition, so that’s what we did.
Initially LeopardCRM was in the lead – user-friendly interface, nice design, it looked like a toy. The lack of Russian localization, a set of bugs, manual installation, as well as frequent TODOs in the code didn’t embarrass us much. The lack of developer activity, as well as the insufficient distribution of this system forced us to withdraw it from the competition.
The leader was SugarCRM – easy installation, 100% Russian localization, a large number of extension modules, the ability to customize the appearance, customizability – for all its advantages, it has one drawback, which until the end did not allow us to make it a leader – this messy architecture.

Chapter 4. System Deployment.

After installation and localization, we had to set up currency options, connect the system to the company mail server, create user groups (CEO, executive directors, lead managers, project managers, managers). All together these activities took us no more than 2 hours (again a huge plus of the system).
It took us a lot of time to enter employees into the system and delineate their rights. We also had difficulties figuring out the list of projects and the extent to which they were completed. Often managers simply could not describe all of their projects fully enough in writing. The biggest difficulties arose in compiling the client contact database (at this stage it was found out that the diary and the business card holder were unsuccessful repositories of information to find). And, although this chapter is the shortest, the implementation of all the actions described in it took us almost 4 days, provided the managers’ friendly attitude (which in the CRM implementation practice is rather an exception than a rule).

Chapter 5. Implementing the system into the production process.

There are 2 main approaches when implementing a CRM system.

Approach 1. "Tough."

Employees are obliged to use the system only, any attempt to refuse its use is censured by management, up to and including deprivation of bonuses. After a mass briefing and distribution of disks with manuals managers are forced to transfer the entire document flow to the system. The main advantage of this approach is that implementation is immediate and mass. This method is good when you have a fairly large staff, and it is too expensive to train everyone individually. This is the way to approach the problem, they say. crmonline.ru and crmcom.ru/

Approach 2. "Soft".

A briefing is held, where the entire management staff of the company is told about the advantages of this management system, management capabilities and statistics collection. If any of the leading managers or project managers refuses to use the system, the reason for such behavior is clarified and, if possible, corrected. Most often the reason is that the employee has not fully read the manual, and the missing knowledge is transferred to him individually. Once the entire management team has switched to the system, the system begins to be implemented among the rank-and-file managers. Again, individual counseling is provided if problems arise.
Interest in the system among managers made it possible to transfer all client operations into the system within 5 working days after the start of implementation. For a staff of 30 people, this is a very good result. After we successfully implemented the system, it was time to collect statistics and analyze the benefits.

Chapter 6: The effect of implementation.

The start of the system coincided with a period of rising demand for building materials, and absolutely all customers were served. Of course, this was almost always the case. Efficiency with which customers were served and could get information about the process of fulfilling their order increased significantly – now it was enough to make 2 mouse clicks instead of going through piles of papers.
Clients ceased to depend on managers, in case of manager’s illness his projects quickly, with all necessary information and documentation passed to another manager. The statistical system allowed for a more even distribution of work among managers, and their quality of work and discipline began to increase. And also the queue in front of the coffee machine dissolved.
Organizer and calendar, built into the system did not let you forget about the call or meeting. And their integration into the document management, correspondence and calls system allowed to get full information about the progress of the project, and, importantly, to update the memory of the purpose of the meeting or call.
The structuring of information, as well as the reduction of search costs, allowed managers to engage in active management, which brought the firm many new clients.
The system gave project managers access to all documents, allowing them to execute the project with all the client’s wishes in mind.
The executive director was given the opportunity to see the big picture, which allowed for optimized production and cleaned up warehouses.

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