Recently, at the request of one of our members, WWEMA surveyed the membership to ask what type of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems they used; the selection process they employed in choosing those systems; pros and cons of their systems; whether they would recommend their systems to others; and advice they might have for colleagues selecting and implementing new systems.
We received many responses, and we provided the full survey results to all members who participated.
While this survey was specific to CRM/ERP systems and intended for manufacturers, the last question—the one requesting advice in selecting and implementing a new system—elicited recommendations that can be applied to any business considering a new database-reliant system, or really, any new major software purchase.
Here are just a few of the suggestions our members made:
Don’t let the tail wag the dog. Your CRM and ERP systems are supposed to support your business objectives, not the other way around. Define your goals, priorities and needs, and measure each prospective system against those.
Do your research. Don’t rely on the word of the person selling you the system, or even on the referrals they provide. Find other users and ask about their experiences with the product. Search for online user groups and check out the discussion threads to see what types of problems and pitfalls they have found.
Expect the unexpected. The chances of everything going without a hitch are slim to none. Make sure you can conduct business as needed while you work out the kinks. And as one respondent said: “Estimate the time required to implement and deploy the system … and then double that time.”
Commit. Get buy-in from all levels of management and staff, and make a commitment to do the training and implementation needed to ensure you get the most out of your system.
As a whole, our survey responses indicated that installing and adopting any new system presents a challenge. (When asked, “What part of your CRM/ERP implementation did you find most straightforward?” several replied, “Nothing was straightforward,” while others left that question blank.) Careful planning, research and commitment, however, can lessen the pain and increase your chances for success.
Learn more about WWEMA and membership at www.wwema.org.
Dawn Kristof Champney is president of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn., a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization that has represented the interests of manufacturers serving the water supply and wastewater treatment industry since 1908. Kristof Champney can be reached at [email protected].