“The secret to getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

These words have been attributed (almost certainly apocryphally) to Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, and Sally Berger, among others. But despite the dubious origins of the quotation itself, the message is spot on.

When it comes to implementing and adopting CRM, we believe in a crawl, walk, run approach. We believe it’s best to break down the potentially daunting task of adopting CRM into manageable chunks for one group of users at a time.

CRM has a high failure rate, and it’s important to respect that when starting with a new system. Trying to do too much too fast is too often a recipe for failure. By breaking things down, you spend the time you need to ensure each phase of your CRM project is successful before moving on to the next one.

So who should have access to CRM when?

In this article, we’ll aim to answer that question. We’ll look at the benefits of CRM for the different members of your organization, and some best practices for when to bring those members into your new CRM system.


Step 1: CRM champion(s) and admins

A CRM champion is a member of your team who takes personal ownership of your CRM project. Typically, your CRM champion will be a manager or executive, but it can be any person or group of people who are committed to ensuring your CRM project is successful.

CRM champions set expectations and timelines, ensure users are training on and using your new system, coordinate tech and troubleshooting issues with IT, and act as liaisons between users, managers, executives, and/or partners.

CRM champions are incredibly important, and they should be among the first users in your system.

Your CRM champions may also be your admins, or they may supervise some members of your IT department who will take on that role. But your admins will be in charge of maintaining your CRM system once you start unleashing it into the wild, and should have access to CRM early on.


Step 2: Sales (or service)

Once your CRM champions and admins are comfortable in your system, it’s time to get your first group of front-line users in there. Your first group of users will depend on the way your business is structured. But it should almost certainly be either your sales or service team.

For most companies, your salespeople should be the first user group in your CRM. Basically, if your profitability depends on your sales team, then you need to get salespeople involved in your CRM implementation and adoption processes as early as possible.

After all, CRM done right is supposed to help your salespeople sell. So unless your business model is service-focused, start with your sales team.

Your salespeople already know many of the obstacles they face. Your CRM should be optimized to remove as many of those obstacles as possible.

Of course, as with any new system or procedure, there’s a learning curve to CRM. Your salespeople may even see CRM as an obstacle itself, at first. It’s on your CRM champions to smooth the transition and communicate with your sales team. This will help you identify areas for improvement and training and ensure your system remains valuable moving forward.

But until you win over your sales team by providing real benefits through CRM, your CRM adoption won’t be ready to move forward.


Step 3: Service (or sales)

For companies with a service-focused business model, your customer service team should be the first user group in your CRM. But even if your business doesn’t revolve around service, your service team should be in there right after your sales team gets settled.

CRM isn’t just for salespeople; it’s also a great tool for your customer service team. Much like your sales team, your customer service team needs to see obvious, early benefits from working in CRM.

And just like with your sales team, your service team is a great barometer for how your CRM adoption is going. If they aren’t comfortable in the system or aren’t seeing benefits from working in CRM, then you aren’t ready to bring in more users yet.

Depending on the size and complexity of your operation, you may want to break sales and service down further. For example, you may have telesales, inside sales reps, outside sales reps, sales engineers, and sales operations personnel with different enough job descriptions to merit different CRM adoption rollouts and different user roles.

In that case, we recommend giving earlier access to CRM to users who will do the most customer-facing work.

Alternatively, you can break departments into cohorts based on who you expect will be best prepared for or even most resistant to your CRM project. This allows you to dedicate more time to the users who need it, while racking up quick wins for those who are already ready to roll.


Step 4: Sales and service managers

One of the major benefits of CRM is the visibility it provides to managers. But don’t let that fool you! A good CRM system is for customer-facing users first, not the managers working to optimize efforts behind the scenes.

That said, by the time you’re ready to bring your sales and service managers into the system, that system should be generating more and more useful data for them to work with. At that point, you’re ready to give sales and service managers access to CRM so they can start using that data to streamline your sales and service processes.


Step 5: Marketing

Your marketing department can do a lot in CRM, from setting up marketing lists and full marketing campaigns to taking advantage of the many benefits of marketing automation.

There’s an argument for getting the marketing department into CRM earlier, but good marketing needs good data, and you’re a whole lot less likely to have that early on. But once you’ve got some momentum in your system from sales and service, it’s time to bring the marketers into CRM.


Step 6: Accounting

Not every organization will choose to bring the financial team into CRM, but if you choose to do so, now’s the time.

There are many benefits to giving at least some members of accounting access to CRM data. Ideally, you want to make it as easy as possible for your team to move from selling to billing to processing to supporting.

CRM helps you do that, and those benefits increase drastically if you’re already using a compatible ERP system.


Step 7: Executives

VPs and C-suiters typically need to see the big picture of your organization. But that picture takes a while to develop in CRM.

Once your front-liners and their immediate supervisors are comfortable in the system and generating a return on your CRM investment, it may be time to bring in non-champion executives.


How much access should we give our users?

The simple answer is “enough for them to do their jobs and nothing more.”

CRM security management is a delicate balance, but if too many users have too many privileges, your data integrity will likely suffer, especially if you have too many global admins.

This may frustrate some of your users. But limiting access is an important part of good CRM security practices.

For example, a very common problem is to grant access based on seniority without considering job description or expertise.

Building layered (or tiered) security roles isn’t a bad thing. But trust us on this one: the odds are good that all your executives don’t need full access and privileges in CRM!

The more global admins you have in your CRM system, the more likely you are to have too many cooks in the kitchen.

And in Dynamics 365, there’s always the option to use team member licenses to save money on users who don’t need full access to CRM (like accountants and executives).


What if my org chart doesn’t look like this one?

These are just guidelines based on our many years of working with small and medium-sized businesses. But every business has different strengths and faces different challenges.

That’s why we developed the OnTrack CRM Success System. Our OnTrack system is a structured approach to CRM implementation, training, and adoption that is guaranteed to ensure both the short-term success and long-term value of your Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM system.

When you work with us, we’ll identify who stands to benefit the most from CRM, and who needs to have what levels of access when as you roll out your new or upgraded system. Then we’ll build an implementation, training, and adoption plan based on your organization and your goals.


What is OnTrack?

OnTrack is a fixed-price subscription onboarding, training, support, and customization service with a full money-back guarantee. We provide a calendar of activities, step-by-step instructions, videos, workbooks, worksheets, coaching calls, deep-dive sessions, custom add-ons and solutions, and ongoing support, all of which are the product of hundreds of successful CRM implementations over the last ten years.

And in that time, only 2 customers have ever asked for their money back. That’s right: while industry experts predict 30-70% failure rates, we’ve had 2 failed CRM implementations out of more than 300 projects.



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