How long does it take to implement a CRM system

How long does it take to implement a CRM system? Avoid these blockers!

John PhillipsCompany Updates, Product Updates

One of the most common questions the team at Strategy 365 get asked in early conversations about CRM solutions is “How long does it take to implement a CRM system?” The answer is that it can take as little as a few days in some cases, and in others it can take months.

In this article, we’re going to share with you the top stumbling blocks that can seriously delay a CRM implementation project, so you can act as soon as possible to avoid them!

These are based on our many years of experience building a range of CRM solutions utilising Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

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How long does it take to get a CRM system up and running? Shave weeks or even months off the project timeline by avoiding these pitfalls…

False perceptions

At the end of the day, the reason your company is implementing a CRM solution in the first place is to increase sales and profit – these are business issues, not IT issues. A CRM project should always be led by the business and its users; technology is simply the enabler.

Unfortunately, what we see happen time and time again is a scenario in which important factors get missed because the key stakeholders have incorrectly assumed that the project is ‘one for IT’, rather than a business decision, so they’ve perhaps not allocated the appropriate time or resources to it.

The senior project sponsor doesn’t realise what’s being asked of them

Something which can prevent a CRM project getting off to a flying start is a lack of support and ‘buy-in’ from senior executives. You might have heard the expressions “toe the party line” or “sing from the same hymn sheet”, and this approach is extremely important when it comes to CRM planning. It is the responsibility of the senior project sponsor to:

  • lead from the top down
  • ensure  that everyone is taking the project seriously and that it is being given the priority and attention it deserves
  • ensure that the channels of communication and collaboration are all consistent.

It’s vital that everyone who will be coming into contact with the new system takes responsibility in some way for helping the project to become a success. Problems occur when managers don’t adequately explain the benefits of the new system and the users begin to picture the whole thing as an impending headache that they are having forced upon them.

If the senior project sponsor doesn’t see the priority or importance of the project, how do you think that will affect the perceptions of the rest of the organisation?

Wrong stakeholders or not enough stakeholders

The next stage is analysis, and we cannot stress enough how important it is at this stage to ensure you have the right stakeholders involved. A big mistake a few companies make is not involving the people who will be using the software on a day-to-day basis. It’s all too easy to assume that managers or senior staff will have the best idea of the needs of all the users, and sometimes this just isn’t the case.

Don’t leave it until the point where the project goes out for testing with the end users, only for Sally from the sales team to highlight an inefficient process that will take up a load of her time, when something could have been done about it months ago if a sales rep had been involved in those conversations.

Appointing a Product Owner who isn’t the best fit

The Product Owner is the person with the overall responsibility to ensure the final solution is fit for purpose. They’re kind of a big deal. While they don’t manage the overall project, they must be a subject matter expert and they need to have extensive knowledge of the company’s processes, customer relationships and requirements. They will be the liaison between your CRM partner and the stakeholders.

Choosing the right kind of person is important. They need to be able to see the big picture, be assertive, be an excellent communicator and especially a fantastic listener. Finding someone like that is hard, but it will pay off big time if you can find the right fit.

Not enough time or resources have been allocated for proper testing

This is a big one. At the later stages of the project, the CRM partner will hand it over for something called ‘User Acceptance Testing (UAT)’. We will have tested everything to ensure it is all technically sound and working correctly, but ultimately this is a business project, not an IT project, remember? So we need to ensure the people who will be using it are able to do that, and get the most out of it.

Unfortunately, at this stage sometimes our request for testing is met with tumbleweeds.

Time is the one resource you can’t get back and when it comes to running a business, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Isn’t that one of the major reasons for having a CRM system? It will help you to streamline your processes, track your leads, stay on top of your projects and ultimately save a hell of a lot of time. So, when your CRM partner asks your company to sacrifice time to ensure things are adequately tested, they understand that while it’s a commitment, it’s a necessity.

We can guide our clients on how much time and resources they might allocate to this testing phase, but ultimately it’s down to each company and there’s no set formula. You must ensure that there is going to be enough time booked out for all the features to be adequately tested, and that there are enough users to test it.

Without forward planning, businesses can find staff diaries fully booked, and the longer they are not able to allocate time for testing, the longer the project will take to complete. In the meantime, the same problems and time sucks that prompted the need for a CRM system in the first place continue to drain resources.

What’s going to lead to a more effective end product – a few hours of testing with Dave (who will likely only be testing it in relation to his role), or a full day of testing with multiple stakeholders?

Not enough training or too long between sessions

In order to use new technology, you need to know how. While everyone rolls their eyes and lets out moans of exasperation at the thought of learning how to use yet more software, just remember why you’re doing it in the first place. Until now, staff will likely have had to sift through endless spreadsheets and documents just to find a bit of information, contract SLAs might have slipped through the cracks, you may have lost customers because details had been missed, and staff might have complained about not being able to work from home because data was only stored on-premises. This whole process will banish those headaches, so surely a training day here and there is worth it?

Another tip would be not to leave it too long between testing and training sessions. We remember things more effectively the more times we do something and the fresher it is in our minds. Make it easier for your staff by not leaving it too long between sessions.


Ultimately, a CRM solution is a commitment to your staff and your business that things will be done better. It’s primarily about people, and by taking note of these potential blockers, you can ensure your CRM project is implemented as fast and effectively as possible!

For more information, check out our Top 10 Tips for a Successful CRM Implementation Project.

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