Introduction of a CRM solution to a company is a project that is very critical to the success of the company and therefore there is need to ensure that the critical project implementation activities are well managed if company objectives are to be made. All stakeholders must be fully involved in the implementation process for purposes of ensuring that ownership is achieved. It is important to note that project team leaders should not lay a lot of emphasis on scope, cost, time, and goals but also spearhead the entire exercise to realize the requirements and expectations of all the stakeholders involved in the implementation process. Any information system has minimum hardware requirements for it to work effectively. The documentation that accompanies software spells out the various specifications that must be met before installing the system for use. Project managers have a critical responsibility of specifying the project scope, the time frame for implementation, quality assurance and the risks involved in the implementation exercise.
Scope management entails working with all the stakeholders do identify the key elements that are needed for successful implementation of the project. After careful study of the requirement specification stakeholders should specify the required hardware components for optimal operation of the CRM solution. It is important to get the tasks that will be carried out in the project. This is not acquiring the CRM system per se, but improving the hardware/platform that the CRM will be implemented. The main costs that will be incurred are the enhancement of the hardware currently in place. It is important that this process is managed so that the organization gets the right hardware and right platform so that there will be no need to have further or frequent changes. There will be other peripheral devices that will be purchased like the UPS which are critical in such information systems.
Time management refers to the careful evaluation of the required time for completion of the processes involved in the hardware selection and implementation exercise. Gantt charts can be used to identify activities that must be completed before starting another and those that can run in parallel (Heerkens, 2007). Time estimation should be cost effective and therefore completion time should neither be underestimated nor overestimated. It is important to have a clear communication and set timelines with the suppliers of the hardware and the software/platform implementers of the new system. This should be done on time by use of time management tools like Gantt charts.
Cost management is the careful preparation of the required budget for the hardware needed for the implementation exercise. This is a critical aspect which requires careful analysis of the components needed in order to avoid overestimation or underestimation. Cost benefit analysis should also be carried out in order to avoid buying equipment that cost more that the benefits the CRM solution will offer to the company. There is need to have evaluation of the use of cloud-based CRM in this situation. It is important to know the requirements of the organization and understand if they might require changing to this model in future. If there will be a need to change to web-based system, it will be better to work out on the modalities now.
Quality of hardware is another important aspect that project managers to deal with. Nowadays companies manufacture hardware components that are of low quality and a company that buys hardware such hardware components risks making loses and therefore a lot importance should be attached to quality. Experts should be involved in careful selection of quality hardware components. Since the CRM is a critical system that will be used by the marketers and managers, it is important to ensure that the hardware will not affect service delivery with their failures. It is therefore important to get licensed suppliers who are ISO certified. When the hardware have been acquired, it will be important to have experts install them. There will also be a need UPS in place to sustain operations (Heerkens, 2007).
Risk analysis involves the identification of potential risks relating to the hardware acquisition and implementation. These risks can either be reactive or proactive. A plan should be established for managing risks without which the project may face unforeseen problems.
Various strategies can be employed to minimize the risks during hardware selection. The first thing to be done is identification of the risks and their associated risk factors in the implementation process. The risks can be rated in a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 means the effect of the risk is minimal and 5 meaning the potential of the risk is eminent. Factors that may influence the project of implementing a new CRM include;
1. incorrect or confusing definition of terms
2. differences in ordering potential, setting prices and payment mechanism
3. definition of terms that are not appropriate
4. Liability issues like who will bear the greatest blame in case of a problem.
During the planning phase, proper risk management should be in a position to foresee the major risk issues and define appropriate measures.
For proper selection of the hardware components the corporate goals should be carefully evaluated by the project manager together with the implementation committee. Organizations have different goals and aspirations and therefore careful analysis will ensure correct selection of components that will address key issues in the organization. Forms of acquisition like open sourcing and in house construction should be looked at and depending on the goals of the organization, the right method of acquiring will be considered.
In general whenever an organization feels that new systems should be implemented, there is always a driving force and the question of quality service delivery and cost effectiveness are normally the key pillars behind the change process. First the project manager identifies the key problems that the current system is facing and an analysis of alternative solution is carried out. Various solutions are identified and the best is selected. Like wise in the case of hardware selection there is need to formulate the reasons for hardware acquisition, identify ways of selecting the hardware components and picks the best alternative (Heerkens, 2007).
Factors to consider when selecting a project
When selecting a project to be implemented in an organization, the main issue that is to be considered is the business value that the said project should bring. One of the factors that will determine the choice of the project is the cost reduction of the processes in the company. Here, the most important question to be asked is whether the project will help the organization to reduce the costs of operations.
Another factor is whether the project will give the organization an edge over the competition. Today, competitive advantage is a very important yardstick to gauge the rationale of a project. With the competition of companies, where advanced companies use advanced systems, it is important to know what a project will bring to the company.
Another factor is that of time. It is important to find out if the project will reduce time for some processes. This will therefore reduce the time that is required to undertake a given project. This will mean that the time that will be required to undertake a project will be reduced.
Other factors include enhancing the satisfaction of employees and therefore increasing productivity. This can be attained in ways like having a user-friendly working environment. Another factor is that there will be need to have projects which will optimize the current information systems or the ones to be installed. An example is the one that is found in this study.
Implementation of a new CRM solution in an organization is an important activity that must be done with a lot of professionalism. All key stake holders should be involved in the entire process ranging from requirements analysis to implementation. The project manager mask take into consideration the key issues in implementation of any project which include; scope management, time management, cost management quality management, risk management and human resource management. For each of these issues careful evaluation must be carried out with assistance of scientific tools that minimize errors that can be made. Goals of the organization are a key issue that must be put into consideration by the implementation team. All subsystems of the organization must have goals that do not contradict the goals of the entire organization. Finally all the members of the organization should own the implementation exercise if resistance is to be avoided.
Heerkens, G. (2007). Project management: 24 steps to help you master any project. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.