6 considerations to guide your move from on premise to cloud CRM
So you want to move away from on premise systems? I hear the desire to replace on premise systems and start running technology in the cloud, for example with a CRM solution like Salesforce, all the time. And it makes sense: Why wouldn’t you want to move to the cloud with all the benefits it has to offer? And, once you’re there, why not continue to expand your footprint to realize even more value? The truth is, if you aren’t implementing cloud technology or considering how you can gain more value from existing implementation, you’re getting left behind, which means it’s time to step up your game.
But successfully implementing cloud technology, and then expanding that technology to reap its full value, requires more than just a snap of the fingers. It is possible though. As you first implement and then expand the reach of your cloud CRM program, you need to think strategically at every step of the way and always keep an eye toward what’s next. Throughout my team’s experience working with organizations all over the globe, we’ve identified some common themes, challenges and best practices around moving away from on premise CRM systems to cloud systems.
Based on that experience, here are a few of my top tips for what to consider as you seek to modernize your approach to CRM and expand the reach of your cloud program:
Define your cloud strategy
Think about your relationship with your current, on premise CRM technology. There’s no doubt that your sales strategy and processes, not to mention your overall business, has changed since you first implemented that system. Has the system kept up with all of these changes? In most cases, you’ll find that not only has the technology failed to stay current, but it’s also become increasingly expensive to maintain. If that’s what you find, it’s difficult to justify continuing down the same path, as the discrepancies between how your business evolves and what your system can provide will only continue to diverge.
Don’t expect an immediate change
The transition from on premise to cloud CRM is not something that can happen with the snap of a finger. This is the case for any such transition, but it’s particularly magnified in the CRM world, as these technologies have a history of spreading their tentacles deep within the enterprise. And those tentacles are not just something you can turn off all at once. Instead, you need to approach the change piece by piece. Identify what you need to do and then prioritize those initiatives so you know what you will tackle, in what order and when.
Align your goals with business initiatives
CRM is significantly more than just a technology. When done correctly, CRM is a program that guides everything, from how your business sells to how you service and engage with customers. As a result, you need to consider cloud CRM from both a business and IT standpoint. Looking at the business side of things, you need to map CRM initiatives to your overarching business objectives. You should also use the implementation as a chance to update your business processes to meet changing needs. Simply going down the rip and replace path would mean missing out on huge opportunities to positively transform your business.
Account for technology requirements
Although the business aspect of a CRM implementation is of utmost importance, the technology side is nothing to blink at either. Before you implement any new technology, you need to have a clear understanding of your enterprise architecture. This understanding is especially important in light of the fact that the transition from on premise to cloud won’t happen overnight. As a result, you need to consider what systems you have in place currently that won’t change right away, and how your new CRM system might integrate with these other technologies.
Recognize the importance of data
With CRM, it’s all about the data. You could do everything else right, but if you don’t handle the data migration correctly, nothing else matters. And it’s not just about moving your data from one system to another—you need to make sure that you get the right data to the right place in a meaningful format, and you need to make sure that end result yields clean, quality data. Cloud CRM systems will not magically clean, dedupe or standardize your data. Those activities are on you (although there are plenty of tools to help!), and you need to do that before your new system gets up and running.
Don’t let a fear of change hold you back
Those who are afraid of change will not survive for very long in today’s world of constant disruption and innovation. Staying competitive requires embracing change. It can be scary at times, but it’s the only way to keep pace and, ideally, lead the pack. Helping your organization embrace change requires effective organizational change management and strong leadership that emphasizes each win and communicates goals and impacts. It’s up to you to paint the picture of the future and lead your organization down the path to get there.