Managing your small business CRM project is like any other: its success is largely dependent on coming in on-budget. And correct management of your CRM project is as, if not more, important for the smaller business – your financial health has less latitude than your larger counterparts and your margin for error is smaller.
Without proper planning, and without an overly generous budget to start with, seeing your CRM project through to completion within budget is a hit-and-miss affair.
So, to ensure success, you need to develop a realistic CRM budget that takes at least the following four critical areas into account:
- CRM ROI. You need to know exactly how your project is going to generate a profitable return for your business. CRM solutions provide benefits for your business in many areas and by being aware of them, and having the right mechanisms in place to measure these benefits, you must plan correctly.
- Reduce risk. There are several potential weak points where, without contingencies in place, your CRM project is more at risk of failure. Risk equates to expense, so you certainly want to plan to eliminate risk as far as possible.
- CRM Services. If you have not had previous experience managing similar projects, it is easy to overlook areas where you will require a variety of CRM related services. Without attention, these can cause your project to balloon way over your CRM budget.
- Technology. Choosing the wrong technology for your CRM, whether it be hardware or CRM software, will also affect your CRM budget severely, not only in having to upgrade or replace unsuitable equipment, but in terms of time and demotivated users. At least you will now have the benefit of hindsight, as you revisit the whole project from scratch – the double-dipping scenario (with a possibly reduced CRM budget second time around) but at what cost?
So how do you put together a realistic CRM budget? Do you rely on the words of the various CRM vendors that won’t paint the whole picture so as to not scare you off prematurely? Do you call in the services of a supposedly independent, but not inexpensive CRM consultant? Or visit the local library and start ploughing through the numerous books on the subject, or start downloading various CRM whitepapers that have the bigger corporate in mind?
Certainly there are many good CRM books and Guides available, and it would be a minor, but wise investment of your money and time to choose one or two to read before taking the “CRM plunge”. One such guide we recommend is the “CRM Survival Guide: The Ultimate
Guide to CRM Success”. It goes a lot further than helping you put together a realistic budget, too. It even shows you how best to negotiate with your CRM vendor, after having helped you select a suitable CRM solution. Read our review..
Invariably these projects turn out more expensive than initially anticipated, but forewarned is forearmed, as they say. At least you enter into your CRM project with more of an informed opinion.
So what are your options?
- Just go for it. It is still within your CRM budget, so you can resume and hope you don’t exceed it and that no unforeseen circumstances ‘creep’ the scope of the project.
- Scale down. Plan on a phased CRM implementation and a longer time frame to achieving your CRM ROI, starting with the quicker return aspects of CRM.
- Other ROI opportunities. With proper planning, clients find other potential applications for the CRM solution they hadn’t realised. This will speed up your CRM ROI as well as help to motivate for a bigger CRM budget.
- Double Check. Make sure you have the most appropriate small business CRM solution for your business. There are literally hundreds of CRM applications to choose from and it can be confusing choice. Do you need a mobile CRM solution, web based or hosted CRM, a CRM based on Microsoft Outlook or maybe an open source CRM, not to mention the more conventional on-premise CRM solution or hybrid?
But to come in on budget, you need a realistic budget, and this means getting it right first time.