Preparing to Implement or Improve Your CRM

Preparing to Implement or Improve Your CRM

In this four-part series, I’m walking through the four parts of unlocking your CRM potential. In this post, we’re going to focus more on the preparation phase of the process. Before you implement a new system or re-implement an existing system, you want to make sure 90% of the effort should be spent on planning and preparation, and 10% on implementation and maintenance. Although this is what we should strive for, a lot of times, it ends up being a little more 50/50.

Why Don’t We Plan or Prepare?

A lot of firms want to try and avoid the planning and preparation phase because it leads to a lot of difficult conversations with different departments. In some cases, firms try to implement a technology solution, like a CRM, to fix an internal political problem between departments. Unfortunately, this won’t solve the problem and can make things worse.

We stop planning when we realize some of these conversations and new workflows are going to cause some initial friction at first. A lot of these problems can be worked through by building a process map and have these internal discussions during the mapping phase so that when a new technology is introduced, the teams involved have already had a chance to review the revised workflows and add feedback. In many cases, just allowing time for all stakeholders to review the process and give feedback, can alleviate friction that may be caused by proposed technology changes.

5 Steps of CRM Process Documentation

Five Steps of Process Documentation

When documenting your client lifecycle process, the key thing to remember this should be an active document. A process document should be revisited and reviewed on a consistent basis to make sure it’s accurate.  In the five-step process I’ve outlined below, the revisiting and revision part is built in: 

  1. Map your current process
  2. Identify gaps in that process
  3. Review the process
  4. Improve the process
  5. Monitor the process. 

Mapping the Current Process

Do you and your firm know what happens from the prospecting phase of a client’s journey with your firm all the way through to a completed project? During the mapping process, the goal is to understand each step of the process. For example:

  • Is everyone clear at your firm what a lead is? 
  • Does each person at your firm understand the difference between a lead and an opportunity?
  • What happens with an opportunity? 
  • What happens to that opportunity once it converts to a project? 
  • Who kicks off the project with the client? 
  • Does the business development person go into that meeting? 

Identify Gaps in the Process

Sometimes there is a general idea of how this process works, but it’s not clearly documented and some information can be falling through the cracks. It’s important to delineate in your mapping discussions which department handles what. So when an opportunity closes and accounting starts setting up the project, what is the current process? Do you have a process that loops marketing back in once the project is wrapped up? Many firms can struggle with notifying marketing when a project is closing out so that marketers can take care of final photography and wrap up the final project description so they can perhaps submit the project for an award.

Review and Improve the Process

Next, make sure to document your process in a way that you can share with others. You may use Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, or Word documents. I like Lucid Chart and Miro for process mapping as well. During this part of the documentation process, it’s critical that everyone at your firm can see the document, make comments, and give feedback. This part of the process also helps to gain overall buy-in and adoption for any changes to a process.

Monitor the Process

After your firm’s client lifecycle process is documented, you’ve reviewed it with the team and made improvements, it’s now time to monitor the process you’ve captured or created. Now, when you hear issues along the lines of clients not getting properly communicated to prior to a project kick-off, you can review the process map, and make sure that everyone that should be notified after an opportunity is closed-won is notified. At this stage in the process, it’s more important to look for ways to improve, than to assign blame when an issue is uncovered. As you continue to monitor and work on improving your process, you may need to refine your data entry into your CRM to ensure a better process and analytics. 


Planning and preparation of your team and processes are a huge factor in the ultimate success of your CRM implementation or re-implementation. Prior to implementing a CRM, make sure you’ve taken the time to document your process and make that process a living document that is revisited on a regular basis to make sure all key information is finding its way back into your CRM. Now that we’ve touched on planning and preparation, the next post will focus on utilization. Stay tuned!