I joined Idenna a year ago. One of the first things I noticed was how busy it was; thriving in fact. There was a constant flow of prospects coming in and an equal output of creative brilliance going out. The producers were ‘on it’ in terms of getting through hefty workloads — but still punching out beautiful films, graphics, PR campaigns and such like — and the sales folk were bringing in a range of exciting projects. The increasing demand lead to rapid growth, so much so that the systems the team were working from were no longer effective. The nature of a creative agency meant that we had strands all over the place: multiple clients, each with multiple projects, campaigns and various deadlines. Some things were ongoing and planned, others reactive. I saw a talented team working under inspiring directors and thought, wow, if we could get even more efficient, there’ll be no stopping us.
And there it was, I took on the challenge to find a suitable CRM Project Management system that would enhance our business. That won’t take long right? Wrong! After my initial overwhelm (there are so many systems available out there) I realised I needed a plan to get the right system. Through trial and error I eventually found the right system for us.
Here are my top ten tips for picking the right CRM or Project Management system
1. Give it the time it deserves
It’s a big investment. Dedicate a period of time to really see what’s available. I spent a couple of hours a day for six weeks looking at our options. A rushed decision will not save you time in the long run as you’ll only want to change it again in a year!
2. Research, research, research
And then research some more! Look online, read reviews, speak to other businesses of similar sizes and in related fields to see what they use and what they do and don’t like about it. My Director set up a chat room on LinkedIn to see what advice other directors could offer. It was all very valuable.
3. Think long term
The system we were using twelve months ago was very easy to use but very basic. When looking at other systems, it was easy to think “that’s too big for us, we aren’t quite there yet.’ This may well be the case, however, it’s useful to have a five year vision of your business in mind so that you can grow in to your system and not have to change it in a few years.
4. Pick relevant over all-singing-and-dancing
Many CRM and PM systems are designed for medium to large businesses. Some are specifically for very complex companies and the systems might offer a huge range of fancy and impressive features. But ask yourself, do you need them? I found myself drawn to functions and features that I had to Google to understand them but would Idenna benefit from a sophisticated integration feature that can translate all content to over 50 languages… uh, no.
5. Get the whole team involved
Most people don’t like change forced upon them. But if you let everyone have their say and request their needs, it’s a more welcome change. You may not know the daily routines and tasks for every department within your business (I certainly didn’t) so it’s highly beneficial to go through the process of finding out what every team member requires to support their work.
6. Pick the important features your business requires
When I started ‘Mission Find a CRM PM System’ I had an A4 list of – what I thought – was essential features. After carrying out tip 5, it was easy to narrow my list down to three essential features then a list of desirables. For us, this was a shared calendar, email integration and reporting scheme. Think of it as recruiting on a points system. This made it very easy to rule out certain systems (even the ones that offered free doughnuts for the team for a year… unfortunately).
7. Take free trials
Once you’ve shortlisted to two or three systems, take a trial. Almost all available systems out there offer free trials. Get a few different team members to have a play to get their feedback as everyone works and interacts differently and you need a system that makes life easy for people.
8. Be open minded to change
One thing I noticed when we first got excited about finding our current system is, we reluctantly had to change some of the ways we worked to fit in with our new system. At first this seemed like a pain but we thought the system was worth it. It’s worth pointing out that the system we chose was specifically designed for creative agencies so is very well thought out. We have since realised that every small change we have had to make has been for the better. If you do choose a system that’s specific for your business field, it’s likely that it’s very well thought out so don’t be afraid to try it their way.
9. Get to know your new system
I invested a lot of time and effort getting to know our system prior to launching it. I knew it would be a little disruptive to begin with so wanted to be able to support the team in advance. It was a good move, worth the nights of lying in bed hearing the video tutorial man’s voice in my head.
10. Plan your launch
It will slow things down for a day or two but planning is key. There needs to be a changeover period. We allowed for a couple of weeks of changing information and calendar entries from the old system to the new. I ensured that all the team had received sufficient training prior to launching too. I tried to do this through different platforms as to suit everyone’s interest, some reading, some video tutorials and Q & A sessions.
And that’s it… We’re one month in to our new system and already it’s a success. The whole team are behind the system and have embraced it. One of the best aspects of it is being able to see everything! The upcoming and current projects are entirely transparent. We’re able to see exactly where we are at and pre-empt any challenges before we reach them.
Want to know more about getting your business more profitable and organised? Give us a call and we’d be happy to chat through it.
Here’s to a super efficient and prosperous 2017 for all!