Everything needs to be translated into pure system attributes and features. It's pretty rare for internal staff to really succeed with writing the specs on their own. Instead, bring in a consultant who will be excluded from the bidding to help you set CRM project priorities and write an iron-clad spec of what you'll need-and only what you really need.
Step 2: When Short-Listing, Pit CRM Vendors Against Each Other
As vendors respond to your RFI, RFP or RFQ, look for more than just good answers. Does the CRM vendor proposal include rules of engagement for the project? If there's no guidance and dialog during the bidding process about the how the project will be managed, then friction is likely to develop later on. There are just too many places for mismatched assumptions.
At some point, you'll eliminate some vendors. Identify which of the disqualified ones you communicate best with, and then engage them in a short but critical task. Make it clear that they aren't in the running, pay them for their time and ask them to do two final tasks:
- Apply Value Engineering to the other vendors' proposed approaches. By ruthlessly applying the 80/20 rule, there is always a way to satisfy the core business requirement with a smaller level of effort.
- Sharp-shoot the contract, looking for areas where you could get severely hit by ECOs and loopholes.
During your short-listing cycle, modify your specs and contract to avoid the problems that the out-of-the-running vendor has spotted. Even if you pay the vendor $1,000 an hour for this task, you'll still save a bundle overall.
Step 3: Pay Attention During the CRM Implementation
If the winning vendor is smart, it will precisely specify what it will (and won't) deliver in the Statement of Work (SOW). Any change to the SOW will probably require an ECO-each with its own price tag. This will be true even if the following happens:
- You didn't understand the consequences of the specified deliverable. For example, the SOW might say "20 triggers and 17 workflows," but you may have no idea whether that functionality will be satisfactory to your users.
- You discover bad assumptions, additional requirements, or plot complications-or you simply change your mind-at any time after the contract is signed.
- All the itemized deliverables do not solve your system problem, make your users happy or achieve your business objective.
Also note that the SOW may contain a line item for an explicit number of hours of project meetings, as well as another item for project management. If meetings or your decisions/approvals take longer than the allotted time, the vendor is within its right to issue a change order.
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