CRM implementation - how to get projects off to a successful start

To ensure that CRM quickly bears fruit in when being implemented in any company, we recommend that you take systematic approach from the very begining. Following the proven CAS Method you can safely achieve success via clearly defined steps.

From the introduction of the CRM solution to its operational deployment there are several factors that positively influence success. The classic project requirement steps of introduction and further development often forget another key factor: People! These people are the users who will work with the CRM solution in your company; and the customers who are the focus of all your company processes, which will be subsequently mapped in the CRM solution.

The CAS Method

A tried-and-tested guarantee for success

The introduction of new software often presents companies with a challenge. The scope of services, the costs, the increase in productivity and the implementation and training effort must be kept in mind as well as the interaction with existing systems.

Our methodical approach, which has already been successfully implemented in hundreds of customer projects, provides support here. The tried-and-tested CAS method is divided into the major phases of selection, introduction and further development. These phases, are in turn, divided into smaller process steps. The systematic and structured approach creates security and efficiency and, above all, involves people in the process as a decisive factor for success.

The steps involved in the CAS method for implementing CRM software in a company.

The most important steps of a successful CRM implementation

  • 1. Your CRM implementation phase starts with the kick-off meetingDefine the roles for each individual in the project team together. Who is the CRM manager, project leader, key user, administrator or project commissioner? In this way, you create clarity and place responsibility in the hands of the participants as well. Clear communication rules within the project ensure trust and acceptance.
  • 2. Determine your requirements together and focus on your target visionWhat do I need? What is important to me? And how can I best map my needs with standard software? Once you are clear about your own goals, you should get to know your software provider and check whether the chemistry is right. Mutual trust in the respective "sparring partner" and consultation on an equal footing are more important at this point than sifting through lists of functions.
  • 3. Training of key users and the project team in the practice phaseTo get to know the basic philosophy of the CRM software, the next logical step is to train the key users and the entire project team on the basis of the standard product. In this training phase, the key users apply what they have learned and replicate the processes from day-to-day business - any questions that arise are clarified directly within the team. Get support if needed: Coaching sessions are offered at any time by the implementation partner.
  • 4. Requirements gathering an analysis and discussion of the processes as well as final approvalWe recommend prioritizing the gathered requirements afterwards and defining essential basic requirements and quick wins. To bring the implementation phase to a conclusion, it is crucial to focus on the prioritized requirements and to initially hide other requests so that you can quickly achieve initial project success. Additional requirements can always be implemented at a later date. A steering committee gives the go-ahead for implementation or can decide in advance on any outstanding issues that have arisen during requirements gathering. The result is recorded in your requirements documentation together with a solution outline - for example, a description of how a process can be mapped with the software.
  • 5. Implementation and testing for long-term use of the CRM solutionWith a view to the long-term use of the CRM solution and upcoming software updates, we recommend that you ensure the project is realized using the standard software functionality and associated customization options instead of having functions programmed individually. This should be done in phase 2 of the CRM implementation. Ideally, you should already be in a position to perform customizations yourself. Your implementation partner can work with you to develop a first draft. The project team is actively involved in this phase, checking the mapping of your processes and configurations in CRM regarding their suitability for everyday use and providing feedback.
  • 6. User training Training ideally takes place through the key users (according to the train-the-trainer concept). The partner trains the key users, who then train the remaining users. In this way, CRM knowledge is firmly anchored in your company.
  • 7. Going live ends the CRM implementation phase of the project Now is the time for a little breather and time to celebrate the successes of the initial implementation. After this, the project moves to the next stage of further development and optimization. Training additional employees and integrating new areas are also part of the third phase of a CRM project.

Best practice and practical insights

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Top 10 success factors for CRM implementation

  • 1. Take the first step today!Define your larger goals and break them down into smaller units and topics for a step-by-step approach. Ask yourself: Where can I start? Where and what is the biggest pain point right now? What functions and processes will give me the quickest benefits, what are the quick wins? Take the first step courageously - with good planning and project management, hurdles are quickly overcome. The beauty of this, is that the successes are seen by all those involved in the project and this creates motivation for the next steps.
  • 2. Create acceptance – by using common rules to reach the goal Strengthen the change process in the company with clear goals and predefined rules of the game. Any fears that may exist are quickly removed and replaced by acceptance, security and trust. The project participants are actively involved in the change from the very beginning and feel a kind of challenge that they enjoy. Tip for maximum commitment: Role cards with a 'contract character' that reflect each project participant's importance in the team and clarify responsibility for joint success.
  • 3. CRM is a management issueYour management team have to stand behind the CRM project, assign the project team and give them the corresponding competencies and rights. If the importance and successes are communicated to the company again and again, then the project team will feel supported and validated which increases their chances of success.
  • 4. Customer centricity as an overarching CRM strategyThe basis for the successful implementation of a CRM solution is an overarching CRM/XRM strategy: customer centricity as a corporate strategy is a future-oriented corporate culture that places customers at the center of all touchpoints, services, and product developments. It permeates the entire company and results in the alignment of all business processes with the customer. Therefore, even before the project begins, check your alignment, consider the customer experience and, if necessary, clarify the common 'Where are we heading?' question. This will put your project in a healthy position for a promising future with CRM right from the start.
  • 5. Free expert view - using the knowledge of employees The introduction of new technologies is all the more successful the more you take the specific user perspective into account. Your own employees are often the best consultants and process experts. This expertise is worth its weight in gold - use it. At the same time, you create motivation and joy, because this way every employee is part of the success. Roles in the project team such as key user, CRM manager or administrator are defined and, in a kind of 'dry run phase', the respective workflows should be defined, mapped and any questions that may arise clarified immediately. Then the key users, for example from marketing, sales and service, bring their specific requirements into play. Specially written process manuals help to record application processes and make them accessible to all employees.
  • 6. Mandatory - The system and process checkPrior to implementation, a technical and commercial survey of your existing IT and communications structure is part of project foundation. Processes are put under the microscope and communication within the organization is checked. For the successful implementation of CRM software, you need to align yourself with your customers across all contact channels. Versatile interfaces to ERP, CPQ or ECM solutions are also included in the information flows during the course of the project. They support your employees in creating an ideal and smooth customer journey and save you time for your customers in the future.
  • 7. Your competitive advantage - full concentration on core processesProcesses and requirements change very dynamically today, so it makes more sense to achieve 80% of the goal quickly than 100% in twice the time. Because if your CRM project takes too long, the enthusiasm for the new solution will be lost and framework conditions, processes may have already changed again in the meantime. It is not a matter of digitalizing all business processes overnight, but of advancing the digital transformation sensibly step-by-step. Put yourself in your customer's shoes regularly and look at the customer experience to discover any optimization potential in your processes. It’s worth remembering that although digital technologies make our work easier and more efficient, business is always done between people.
  • 8. Partner at eye level - focus on future and investment securityWhen you choose a software provider, make sure that its CRM can keep pace with the development of your company. Software houses which have an established reputation in the market as providers of flexible CRM software solutions, offer you a high level of investment security and thus the possibility of always having the right system at your side for whatever situation your company might find itself in. Choosing a software provider who is well acquainted with the business and communication processes of a medium-sized company is always an advantage. Consequently, you can reap the benefits of working with a software house, which understands your customer's processes and enables partnership-based cooperation at a high level together with reliable project implementation. Last, but not least, the chemistry between the company and the implementation partner must be right to successfully get a CRM project off the ground.
  • 9. In exchange - maintain open communication at all timesYou don't always share the same views - different opinions are part of the game, and to a certain extent they support the positive development of a project. However, if things do get sticky, conflicts should be addressed quickly and an open exchange of views should take place. The predefined rules of the game support this - they allow conflict potential to be quickly identified and de-escalated. For example, if you use these rules to sketch out a path together and in partnership right from the start, you can quickly get back to the table if things do not go as planned. This keeps your CRM project on track and your team working well and successfully together in the long term.
  • 10. Post-match is pre-match - keeping an objective eye at all timesThe step-by-step approach is the key to successful software implementation. The successful start of your CRM project usually marks the beginning of a long-term collaboration. New requirements arise, adaptations are made, and other company departments are added. But standard software also continues to develop - there are new versions with new functions and modules. CRM is a philosophy that thrives on new ideas from employees. That is why the project team should continue to exist, meet regularly, and be the point of contact for the processes and concerns of employees and the company. Steering committees, annual meetings or a quick shoulder check after the initial installation are also good ways to check you are still on the right path and that the system is running smoothly.

Out of the Box Tips

by our CRM expert Martin Kestner

Our Head of XRM-Project Solutions is an expert in the CAS Method and has already used it to great success in the implementation and deployment of hundreds of thriving CRM projects. Martin’s advice:


  • Start simple: define your goals and move towards them step by step.
  • Apply methods which promise high probabilities of success – and which are individually adapted to the company.
  • Stay as close as possible to the standard initial configuration. Use all the product configuration options.
  • Define and place roles well. Afterwards, leave the project team in place for further developments.
  • Maintain collaboration - with the software vendor, partners and the project team.
  • Move on - ask yourself after the launch if the project team and functions are still a good fit?
  • And, don’t forget: After the project is before the project - Customer Centricity remains the right corporate philosophy in the long term.

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