Express Version

  • Taking time to define requirements before embarking on the project avoids wasting time on inappropriate tools and limits completely inappropriate decisions.
  • Although the process is shown as linear, with requirements definition preceding product selection, the two are interleaved. Especially if you are starting from scratch, it's best to do some research about what features are available before nailing down the requirements.
  • Although technical requirements make up much of the requirements checklist, also include requirements for the company you will be doing business with. The competitive landscape changes quickly in the CRM field so if you'd like to keep your vendor for the long run you should do some due diligence into its financial and strategic stability.
  • The second piece of the requirements checklist is about architecture and adherence to technical standards, since you don't want to waste time evaluating candidates that won't match your IT requirements. This is one of the reasons why the IT group must be a part of each CRM project from the start.
  • The third piece of the requirements checklist is the business functionality proper. It often makes sense to see a few tools before creating the functionality portion of the requirements, especially if it's been some time since you looked at CRM systems. Some of the features that are now standard in mid-range systems were rarely seen a few years ago, even in high-end systems.
  • Include implementation and maintenance requirements so you don't get caught with a new system that you can't use without extraordinary effort. It's easy to get dazzled by features and to forget that more features almost always bring more complexity.
  • Do set a budget from the start, although it will probably change later. There is a limit to what you can spend, and knowing what it is will help you target the right candidates.
  • Getting the team to rank requirements so the top ones are clearly highlighted makes it easier to evaluate candidates quickly and thoroughly. It's a critical responsibility of the project manager.