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The execution plan

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If you have gotten building a business case for CRM and received approval, congratulations! After months of work and debate, you have finished the easy part. Now, you have to execute.

Before we get started discussing the process of a CRM implementation plan, I want you to visualise one from your past. Of course I am referring to asking "your parents for a puppy."

Remember what you did? You came up with all the reasons it was a good idea. You promised you would do all the work and clean up after it. You acknowledged all the potential issues and how much responsibility it was. So, when your parents finally (finally!) said yes, that is when the hard work started.

As grown ups, we know that puppies chew things up, so we put them away. We know they take much longer to train than expected, so we put papers on the floor. We know they are going to leave “gifts” on the floor once in a while, so we keep them off the good carpet. We plan for the expected and we have contingencies for the unexpected. We are not surprised by setbacks because we have a puppy implementation plan in place, including how to talk to others when things go wrong.

Your CRM needs a puppy plan. It should be made up of the following components:


You may be the manager of the system, but you cannot be its owner. That role belongs to someone who is pushing the top three business goals of the firm. These goals are never to “get a good database”. That is an outcome of having a goal such as “grow our business in France by 10%”. Find the person who needs the business goal fulfilled and make CRM serve that goal. In exchange, they need to be the champion.


If CRM is positioned as “useful, but optional”, it is actually more likely to fail than simply positioning it as a marketing tool. It must be positioned as a strategic priority and aligned with the top three goals of the firm. CRM may do many other things, but when implementing and talking about it to the firm, stick to strategic positioning.

Rollout format

The best type of implementation is a “tactical rollout, strategic deployment” process based on clients. This is quite different from traditional technology pilots where rollouts are based on groups of lawyers, offices or practices. These are great for internal management, but CRM is a client-facing tool. Pick a number of clients that are part of the top three goals and give CRM to those who interact with them. The rollout gets bigger by picking new clients to serve, and this approach creates the desire for lawyers to be in the next group.

Focus, focus, focus

Not all contacts are created equal. It is very tempting to make sure there is not a single error in the entire database of 50,000 contacts, but does that really matter? Is John’s Cycle Shop and HSBC the same in terms of importance to the bottom line of your firm? Data on top clients, prospects, alumni and employees must be perfect. Everything else is secondary. Also, resist the urge to become an event management or newsletter company simply because you have access to CRM. If you didn’t do it before, carefully consider whether this new activity is a distraction.

Go back to your business case to design your implementation plan. Like a puppy, it is going to have some setbacks and chewed up shoes along the way. However, if you plan based on the top goals of the firm, find a champion, position it correctly, deploy based on clients and focus on the right contacts, you will be successful.

You might even be able to convince them to buy you another puppy next year!

This is the final blog in the series ‘Building the Business Case for CRM. Read previous blog here.

Tags: InterAction

About the Author:

Darryl Cross is Vice President, Performance Development and Coaching at LexisNexis; and an acclaimed inspirational speaker. A certified business coach with the Association for Talent Development, Cross has presented to over 10,000 fee earners and business executives from over 100 countries. He is also an internationally recognised author on best practices in the subjects of law firm profitability, coaching, strategic marketing, leveraging relationships, social networking, business development and competitive intelligence.

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