How to Define The Scope of CRM


So you’re looking to implement a CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) solution for your business. That’s great! But first, you need to determine the CRM scope of the solution you’ll be implementing. Defining the scope of CRM projects means figuring out which areas of your business need to be included in the CRM implementation plan. Before any CRM initiative begins, scoping is essential to establish what the effort will and will not cover, as well as to prevent feature creep and project bloating. Follow the steps below to properly define the scope for your next CRM project.

What Is CRM?

To explain the purpose and scope of CRM, let’s first discuss what CRM does. As the name suggests, customer relationship management streamlines customer interactions, service and care. From lead generation features to a contact management database, CRM optimizes the ease of communicating with potential and current customers. This includes, but isn’t limited to, transaction and interaction history.

For instance, 59 percent of customers report that personalized communication based on past interactions with a company is very important in the modern age. CRM helps users interact on a personal level with customers to make them feel cared for.

CRM has business-facing benefits as well. Instead of jumping from Google Calendar to Outlook Mail to a ticketing system to complete a single task, CRM converges these functions into a single interface. It also offers reporting and business intelligence capabilities to judge the ROI of marketing campaigns or track customer care representatives’ interaction metrics. This can help users identify pain points and correct problems.

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Defining CRM Scope of Work

Understanding the CRM scope you hope to achieve is crucial to the success of your CRM implementation. “Scope” refers to how far-reaching the CRM will be within your organization. For example, if only your customer service reps will be using it, the scope of your CRM would be considered narrow. If your marketing teams, sales reps, customer care team, data analysts and project managers will all be utilizing the system, that is a broad scope of CRM.

To begin the scoping process, reflect on what you’re hoping to improve by utilizing a CRM system — this should help narrow your focus and help you understand what kind of scope you need. To keep expectations realistic, make a list of questions for yourself and for the vendors of your shortlist platforms. Consider things like budget, time-frame, how much training you think you’ll want (or, more likely, how much you’re willing to pay for). By asking these targeted questions to the project managers and stakeholders, you can move forward confidently with parameters that have been discussed with all the necessary people on board.

Set Your Parameters

That being said, defining the scope of customer relationship management software is easier said than done. You may know that you want all of your employees to use it in theory, but what does that look like in practice? Questions like these can pile up quickly, so we’ve made a targeted list of questions and steps to keep you on track.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Will your CRM scope be broad or narrow? You can decide this by understanding how many people the solution will affect. Will your entire organization be using the system or only a single department? This can determine whether you need a large, robust CRM or a smaller, more focused system. It will also dramatically impact the price — most software is priced on a user-license basis.

Will you roll out the entire solution at once or stagger its implementation? This is a question to ask your vendor as well. Doing it all at once helps keep everyone on the same page and can build team camaraderie as you learn to use the system together. Staggering the implementation can mitigate potential risk and cost if the system isn’t a good fit or doesn’t perform how you hoped it would.

What is your budget? It may be a challenge to come up with a budget without knowing what CRMs generally cost. Check out our pricing guide to get a feel for the market so you can begin building an informed budget. CRMs are typically based on a per-user-per-month or per-user-license basis, so you can generate a ballpark estimate for your organization fairly easily.

Compare CRM Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

Defining Scope of CRM

Questions to Ask Vendors

How long does this solution usually take to implement? The time employees spend learning to use the system (and not selling or gathering leads) results in additional personnel costs, and it’s important to have a general idea for how long it will take to go through training for the system.

What training resources are included in the base cost? How much does additional training cost? Almost all software vendors offer preliminary training and customer support as you’re getting set up with the system but after that typically charge for additional training.

What kind of customer support resources do you offer? Some vendors only provide customer support tickets rather than immediate phone support or live chat features. Finding out what they offer beforehand will prevent surprises and frustrations later.

How well does this CRM integrate with other systems? If you utilize an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, learning management software (LMS) or other kinds of business software, it may be important to be able to integrate the systems. Integration means that information from one system can be easily and seamlessly transferred to another. Not all CRMs are compatible with other software, so find out before you settle on one.

Questions for CRM Vendors

Gather Information from Relevant Departments

Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to gather your specific requirements. Ask for feedback from the various departments in your organization about their needs and goals for the CRM. Defining your CRM scope should include how your business’ infrastructure and processes will be impacted, as well as instructions to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for your company. Make your intentions to upgrade/implement a CRM system clear to all those whose work will be impacted by the changes. Here are some questions to ask different departments to gauge how they will or will not interact with the new CRM:

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Sales and Marketing

Reach out to sales and development teams to get a clear idea for how their lead interactions would change with the implementation of a CRM. Find out what kind of organizational and customer contact systems they are currently using in order to make the transition smoothly.

Sales and marketing teams can gain a lot from CRM but often fail to properly implement them. This is usually due to lack of training and communication. If you plunk an untrained employee in front of a complex software system without proper training, they’re not going to know how to use it — thus the myth of the CRM-hating sales rep is born. By communicating directly with sales reps before a CRM is chosen, you can mitigate some of these communication gaps and make sure you choose a system they’ll actually use.

What types of campaigns do you run? Multi-channel marketing campaigns are one of CRM’s biggest strengths. It lets your marketing team combine their efforts into a single streamlined system to manage campaigns via email, social media and more.

What is the current way prospective clients contact your sales teams? CRM incorporates call center features, automated email marketing with chatbots and other more modern methods for interacting with customers. Find out if your sales team would like to utilize multichannel marketing — odds are, they’ll jump at the chance.

How do they record and keep track of leads? Whether the answer to this is a pen and paper Rolodex or a sophisticated contact management system, CRM can improve this. CRM platforms often directly integrate with systems like G Suite or Outlook, saving you time and energy that would otherwise have to be spent on data entry.

How many leads do they have contact details for? Some CRM pricing plans have a limit to the number of contacts you can store — or at least a price increase over a certain amount — so identify your needs up front.

Customer Service

The “C” in CRM stands for customers, so your customer care team should have a significant voice in the selection and implementation of a CRM. If your customer relationship management scope will be narrow, they will likely the only ones who will utilize it. If it’s broad, they’ll still definitely be some of the main users of the system.

How do you log issues, cases or complaints in your system? Whether it’s pen and paper or an external ticketing system, identify how they handle complaints so you can ask a vendor about integration or transferral steps for that data. CRMs come with a customer service ticket feature that will ideally replace (and improve!) any system your service team currently uses.

What is the process for escalating a complaint? Do your reps have to email five people and get a written permission slip to escalate a customer complaint to the next level of expertise? CRMs offer defined workflows for this process that make it easier and more efficient.

How does your customer care team currently communicate? Staying in touch is key to customer relationship management teams. If you’ve been using something low-tech, CRM can kick your communications up a notch. If you use a messaging platform like Slack, CRMs can often integrate or replace it with an internal system, so your employees don’t have to bounce back and forth between screens and lose focus.

Once you’ve received collaboration from each of these departments, you should have an idea of what each team requires and whether your new CRM system will sufficiently replace or assist any of their current systems.

Get our CRM Software Requirements Template

Make Assessments

In order to choose the right CRM platform for your organization, you need to ensure your needs match up with the features offered by a specific product. Conducting a requirements review for the upcoming project is a great place to start. This requirements document should contain the answers to some of the questions mentioned above, as well as specific features to meet them.

At the end of this stage, you should have produced a business requirements specification and a system design document that answers these and other questions. Share these reports and ask for feedback with the major players in your organization, and consult it frequently during the implementation to avoid going off track.

Once you’ve established your needs, you can move on to the comparison step. Comparing vendors based on their features allows you to judge their performance in the areas you need them to excel in. It also helps narrow down your options considerably and generate a shortlist much more efficiently. Once you’ve created a shortlist, you can interview those vendors with the questions in the above section as well as our buyer’s guide to identify your best fit.

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Final Thoughts

Defining your CRM scope is vital for your business. It will give you a better idea of the costs of the project and the features you need. It’s also greatly helpful for the company providing the CRM solution since they will better understand your requirements and what you’re expecting from the project. Doing it at the beginning of the initiative will ensure that the actual implementation of your new CRM system will be as smooth as possible. No CRM is perfect for every business, but now you have the resources to help you select the CRM that’s perfect for your business.

Do you still have questions? Let us know in the comments!

Bergen AdairHow to Define The Scope of CRM


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  • abhita - February 6, 2019 reply

    Nice Bergen! Well Explained. very helpful and easy to understand. like the way you describe.
    thanks for sharing this.

    Bergen Adair - February 6, 2019 reply

    Thank you for reading and your kind comments! I’m glad you found the article helpful.

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