Public Sector CRM Best Practices
We've categorized the below best practices according to the CRM life cycle and evolution.
CRM Software Selection Best Practices
- Always perform a Request For Proposal (RFP) as part of the software selection process. While there may be a reluctance to incur this exercise, the RFP process is extremely valuable in identifying, prioritizing and weighting the organization's information systems requirements.
- Use the RFP process to down select two or three vendors for onsite demonstrations. If RFP scoring shows two vendors far and above the rest of the pack, limit your demonstrations to just those two. If the RFP scores show a close three horse race, then expand the three demonstrations. Don't be tempted to incur more than three software demo's as it is very likely to overwhelm the attendees.
- Make sure your RFP down select vendors are certified to meet unique government requirements such as Section 508 for disabilities and NIST Certification and Accreditation (C&A) for information security compliance. It's very disappointing to go the distance with a potential vendor candidate only to later learn that they cannot accommodate government systems requirements in a time fashion or at all.
- When it's time for software demonstrations, do not permit the canned presentations. Provide the vendor a detailed demonstration script far in advance so that the vendor demonstrates the software capabilities most important to your organization.
- Once the preferred vendor is designated, be certain to attach that vendors RFP response as well as any other documentation that was relied upon in selecting the vendor to the vendor's software agreement.
- If you are considering a hosted CRM solution, be certain to request a schedule showing all unplanned AND planned system downtime incurred over the last three years.
- If you are considering a hosted CRM solution, ask for a special information security briefing by the vendors security team in order to validate the property protection and safeguards for your information. It's also a good investment to actually visit the hosting providers data center.
- Also, if you are looking at software-as-a-service CRM systems, be sure to request the SLA (Service Level Agreement) in advance. Verify the SLA is not watered down and made ineffective with "planned maintenance" exclusions and that there are financial credits or penalties for failure to achieve guaranteed uptime.
CRM Software Implementation Best Practices
- Unless you are well versed with CRM software implementations, consider a phased implementation approach instead of a big bang approach. While the big bang can shorten the overall implementation period, it also brings much higher risk.
- A CRM implementation can also be the ideal time to revamp business processes and implement business process improvements.
- Perform a data sampling of your current data very early in the implementation process. Most public sector and government organizations are not aware of their poor data quality until they reach the data conversion step.
- Recognize that user adoption is a very common CRM implementation obstacle and implement a proactive change management plan early in the implementation process.
- Avoid excessive software customization up front. Modifying the vendor's packaged software brings material risk to a project. If customization is needed, determine if it can be delayed until after an initial go-live of the unmodified product.
- Don't under-estimate or under-budget user training. This is a common mistake. Users need more than a single classroom training course before going live with a new enterprise software system.
CRM Software Utilization Best Practices
- Recognize that CRM is a journey and not a destination. To be successful, CRM requires continuous process improvement and constant learning. While the effort is big, the payback in terms of improved customer relationships and greater contribution to the agency mission are extremely significant.
- Monitor CRM system utilization and take immediate action if utilization unexpectedly decreases (this could be an early flag indicating a user adoption issue).
- Create a training curriculum for new-hires. Also have self study guides and help manuals available for users to incur advanced learning at their own pace.
- Schedule departmental or other group training classes after each CRM system upgrade. These classes focus on new system capabilities and can usually be performed in a single day.
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