You have decided to implement a new CRM solution. You know there are some major potential benefits and some possible pitfalls. Your most important ally in achieving those benefits and avoiding those pitfalls is great user adoption of the platform. You own that. Now is a good time to consider these five important areas that will help.

1) What business problem are you trying to solve first?

This is really the all-important “Why” question. This is the one, that if you answer it right, you can look back a year after your Go Live date and you can be proud of your accomplishment! You’ll be able to say that by all measures this project was a success.

Think big picture, but keep it extremely simple and have well-defined success criteria. Do you want to show a 25% increase in marketing qualified leads over last year? Do you want to double the output of quotes per month/per rep? Do you want to meet your support SLAs 98% of the time? Do you want to prove a pipeline that’s 4X your sales goal by rep, by region, or all-up?

While a mature CRM system would help you with all of these things at the same time, organizations can’t accomplish it all in one fell swoop successfully. Pick your focus. Keep it simple. Define success and measure it regularly. Take a baseline measure before CRM go-live if possible. Address only the most important issue first; then, when you have good user adoption and corresponding success in the most important focus area, start iterating through solutions to other related business challenges.

2) How simple can we make the business process?

This is often overlooked. CRM is all about using a great tool to manage customer-related data through core business processes. Think through your processes first. Streamline, simplify, and optimize them. Document them, then use CRM to enable and support them.

3) What core data is needed to support this business process?

CRM is a database at its core. The system makes it really easy to capture and surface data in really exciting ways. It’s tempting to use all that power to make sure you can handle every nuance in your business, regardless of how frequently each nuance surfaces or how impactful it is. Resist this temptation!! Build CRM to capture and surface only the CORE data you absolutely have to have to complete the business process at hand.

4) Who will touch this system (and how)?

Who will work with this system every day? What’s their role? What’s in it for them to use CRM religiously? CRM gives managers and executives the data they need to be able to make smart business decisions. If you fail to make sure the data each of those roles has at their fingertips shows them what levers to pull to better manage their team, their region, their division, or their company, you’ve missed a cornerstone of what CRM should do for your business. The people often overlooked, though, are the front-line users. The system also has to make their life better in the process in a meaningful way. Processes should be clearer and easier to complete. They should be more efficient and type less in a system that gives them more to help them do their job well.

All roles should have a purpose-built user interface that’s unique for them in that role to tailor their experience to be as simple and straightforward as possible. This should extend to all form factors and devices they have access to in order to be effective in their role wherever they are.

5) Where can we automate?

Any time the system can bring in data automatically from somewhere else, or know to send a communication out that’s relevant, or put focus on the next best action the user should take to manage their piece of the business best, will add value for the user. This in turn, will make it more enticing to use CRM for what you’d like them to use it for. It’s exciting to see a system just know how to help you do your job more easily.

By taking the time to ask these questions and building a clear vision of what you really want, your project will have great odds of success. And, ultimately, your business has the opportunity to see the fruits of your planning.