Even for a progressive practice, implementing a CRM is not a simple job. It’s not just a case of putting disc in the drive, installing and away you go using the CRM. It’s something that needs to be thought through.  

Clarity is key. A practice needs a set of clear statements of work on each of the elements that requires implementation. It is important to know what “success” is and how to measure it. Before a CRM can be a viable tool in any practice, there are some important factors to consider. 

In this article, you’ll find a brief summary of the key factors for successful implementation that FibreCRM has identified through the experience we have had with our clients.  

1. Executive Buy-in 

The implementation of the CRM starts at the top. If the directors and decision makers within a practice believe in the culture of CRM, you’re over the first hurdle. From a partners perspective, even if the plan is to exit a firm, a CRM represents an opportunity to leave a great legacy for those taking over the practice. This streamlines the handover process by recording the many years of client relationship development that might be locked away in the exiting partner’s notes. 

2. Clearly Defined Processes 

It is commonplace for many companies – including accounting practices – to buy a CRM without clearly defining what processes need to be implemented. Every team within a practice is working towards the same goals. Potentially in a variety of different ways. Implementing a CRM provides an opportunity to audit and align departmental processes, one team at a time. Through the CRM, consistent and clear methodologies can be created and supported by through automation and reminders for workflow stages. 

3. Investment in Training 

A comprehensive training program is a must when deploying a CRM solution – making sure that every member of staff who uses the system knows how to execute at the level they need to in order to fulfil their job roles. All too often people have an hour or two for training and away they go. With CRM, it’s not going to work that way. You need to be prepared to invest in and extended adoption programme to get the most value out of the product. 

4. Integration with Existing Systems 

There are two types of CRM: 

  • Non-integrated: 

In other words, just another data silo. Another place to have to manually enter client data. The result is increased workload, as well as inconsistent and out-of-date information on vital client relationships. In our opinion, this critically limits the potential of a client relationship management solution. 

  • Integrated: 

When a CRM integrates with practice management systems (IRIS, CCH or STAR), emails (Outlook) and communications systems (Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp, Vuture, SMS) then client data and communication history are all in one place. At the fingertips of all CRM users to be accessed, analysed & utilised. Saving time and guaranteeing a higher level of consistency across a practice.  

5. A Dedicated CRM Manager 

In the past few years, we’ve been starting to see more and more accounting firms embracing the value of CRM. Taking on a dedicated CRM manager within the practice is an important because there needs to be somebody on the ground in the practice all the time to support the strategy within the practice. Being able to answer questions, being able to understand business requirements, as well as the aspects in the database and building reports for the practice partners.  

Some firms don’t have a dedicated CRM manager, instead choosing to give an existing member of staff. But the risk is that they are too busy with their own day job and they may only really focus on their own department.  

It is essential that the CRM manager is somebody that can cross all the departments and can talk to all levels, the managing partners as well as the junior accountants – understanding what the needs of each department are. If accountants are hitting brick walls and obstacles in the CRM, they’ve got nowhere to go internally, and practice wide adoption is going to be low. 

 6. Culture of Change 

Culture is one of the biggest success factors for successful CRM implementation. It represents elements of all the other factors mentioned above. Within each department, it is crucial to have ‘champions’ of the CRM to lead and encourage their team on CRM usage daily. When supported by upper management and a dedicated CRM manager, the transition into the CRM age becomes much smoother.  

The FibreCRM Support Team are also on hand during the implementation process to offer guidance and help the move the adoption process forward. 

 7. Strong Report Building 

Having information to hand in the form of well-built data reports will drive the use of and adoption of the system – as well has improve the CRM culture. When integrated to existing practice management systems, FibreCRM’s dynamic data reporting module surfaces the data you need in real-time. Allowing you to form, track and adapt those crucial growth strategies, pipeline forecasts & budgets based on accurate, comprehensive reports such as: 

  • Recoverability Analysis 
  • Job Turnaround Time 
  • Up-sell/Cross-sell Matrix 

For a deeper understanding of reporting, take a look at The Essential Reports for Proactive Practice Growth  

Aligning a practice to as many of these key philosophies will ensure that a CRM solution will reach its maximum potential for aiding: 

  • Sustainable practice growth 
  • Increased practice efficiency 
  • Delivery of consistently outstanding client services 

If you would like to know more about FibreCRM and its potential for your accountancy practice, you can download our whitepaper and book an interactive demonstration with one of our product specialists. 

We’ll also be at The Alternative Accountancy Strategic IT Conference, near Birmingham at the end of March if you want to meet us in person. 

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Finalist for software Innovation of the year 2019