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Think about the different houses on your block. Chances are each house is different, with its own unique features, materials, and architectural styles. Even if the houses look the same, the land they’re built on is not.
We can use this as an analogy for firms that are implementing client relationship management (CRM) systems. Although there are widely accepted and adopted best practices within the wealth management profession, technological needs – and the tolerance for change – vary greatly from firm to firm. Any technology will need to be introduced and implemented in such a way that it doesn’t overwhelm or deter the people who will be using it.
Due to the complexity of this process and the human capital component, a blueprint is required. You wouldn’t buy a plot of land and start building without first clearing the natural obstructions, assessing the zoning restrictions, and determining whether you can hook up to local utilities. Likewise, failing to plan before you buy technology and integrate it into your existing tech stack is a dangerous undertaking.
If you’re a wealth manager looking to purchase CRM software, consider a few essential items to set yourself up for seamless integration and tech stack success.
Creating a blueprint
A blueprint for a successful CRM implementation should outline your strategy and objectives, and assess the potential impacts on your processes and people. Drafting the blueprint shouldn't take months. It should be intensive, but it shouldn’t stall action. Once finalized, it needs to be implemented using an agile process that is highly considerate of the end user.
A blueprint has helped countless firms align the big-picture elements of their planned digital transformation, including CRM implementation. However, every situation is unique. For example, are there homegrown solutions that need to be integrated? Or are you starting anew with a completely blank canvas? Is the firm replacing an outdated legacy platform that was fraught with issues from the outset? Depending on the answers to these questions, the blueprint will differ vastly.
Though it may seem tedious to embark upon a weeks-long process to determine how the CRM will be adopted across the business, the long-term benefits are great.
Crawl, walk, run
During my 30 years as a consultant, I’ve seen countless firms make the mistake of making overly ambitious CRM plans. This isn’t surprising, because the team wants the software to magically solve the pain points that have been holding them back. I’ve found it is important to introduce incremental “wins” that build momentum and achieve buy-in. By taking things slow and steady as opposed to rushing a rollout, teams can get staff members acclimated, address potential issues and foster enthusiasm.
This is where I like to introduce the “crawl, walk, run” philosophy. As tempting as it is to come out of the gates running, what firms need to do when first implementing a CRM is to ensure that their team can still perform every prior function at minimum. Otherwise, negative user sentiment becomes an impediment to successful adoption and the tool will struggle to meet its objectives as laid out in the blueprint. It might even impact firm morale.
Taking it slow can be hard, especially if you’re implementing a new CRM and you’ve promised your team that it’s the solution to all their organizational problems. By strategically rolling out the new CRM system, firms can plan out exactly how they will demonstrate the tool’s value, maintain necessary momentum and continue to demonstrate value. Crawl, walk, run.
The pace at which each firm moves through organizational change will differ. It's easy for an external service provider to draft a “one size fits all” plan – but that’s ineffective. It doesn’t require the vendor to consider if the firm’s team is agile enough to move at the pace presented in their plan. Therefore, it’s essential that the blueprint be developed in collaboration with any external consulting parties and consciously vetted by the firm at every stage. A good consultant should understand that just because their team was successful with firm A executing a project at a certain pace doesn’t mean the same pace and timeline will work for firm B.
Most firms would consider themselves “agile,” but the reality is that many teams are held back by deeply ingrained (and often inefficient) processes that they don’t know how to overhaul. To help firms better understand their own agility, I often spend time during the blueprint stage – or before I start a project – by asking questions like, “What is your current methodology?” or “What does agility mean to you in terms of your business functions?”
Sometimes the cultural component of change management and the transition to a more agile model can be a significant portion of the project itself. Whether the transformation is digital or psychological (or both), the blueprint clarifies the strategy-to-deploy processes, motivates the people involved and achieves its ultimate objectives. A lot of clients think of their digital transformation as a finite thing. They envision it as a weeks- or months-long project, depending on what they’ve communicated to their investors, their boards or their clients. However, the most successful organizations look at digital transformation not as a destination but as an ongoing journey. It’s an opportunity to continually improve their most valuable offering – a positive customer experience.
Greg Starr is senior vice president of salesforce services at Skience.
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