CRM Project Staffing Secrets

Come on! Who doesn’t want to hear a secret? In truth, if you have ever been involved in a failed CRM deployment, I don’t think you will find this article to reveal any earth-shattering secrets. In fact, you may just reflect back and have an “ah-ha moment”.

For any project to be successful, you have to have to put it in the hands of the right people. Notice the emphasis on people. Many organizations fall into the trap of thinking “…I have a CRM administrator, they can do it all…,” only to be extremely disappointed and frustrated when they don’t get the results they are looking for. It is important to understand the different roles and skills required to ensure success with your CRM efforts. To help you understand the division of labor, let me go through each of the roles, detailing the experience and skills needed to be successful in each.

Solution Architect

The Solution Architect is probably the most important member of a successful CRM project team. Their job is to envision and design a solution that gives the executive team the results they need and makes user’s lives easier. More importantly, they need to consider not just CRM but all the different systems that are or could potentially be used by the company to improve results. That is a pretty big and hairy job requiring years of both technology and business process experience. Making a mistake in the architecture stage of a CRM project can be extremely costly, both financially and in staff frustration. There is nothing worse than rolling out a new process and engaging users, only to find that a month after adoption, your CRM team needs to change the process again. I bet many of you reading this have been a party to that at one time or another.

It is very unlikely you will have a person with the skills and experience needed for this role sitting around your office. Do yourself a favor and hire a consultant who specializes in sales and marketing operational infrastructure. The amount of money you spend on outsourcing this role is nothing compared to the money you will lose on a failed system.

CRM Developer

The developer is also an important, but not always needed, part of the CRM project team. It is their knowledge of what can and can’t be done programmatically that can make the biggest impact on the user experience. In the almost two decades I have been doing CRM consulting some of the most impacting modifications have been small, but required coding behind the scenes. I might note, it would not be the type of code you would find by doing a Google search, so you want someone who truly understands the product customization model. Stay away from the “hacker” whenever possible. There is nothing wrong with experimenting and learning, but be sure the technical foundation is there first! Avoid the temptation of agreeing to let your administrator install some cool code they found on the internet. Even if it appears to work, that little piece of code could be quietly killing your CRM system because it was not well designed.

Realistically, you will rarely need a full-time developer. If you have one on staff, there is a good chance they are not completely utilized. Whoever you are trusting as your CRM support partner probably has several developers who are shared across multiple projects. I would recommend using their developer to the point you have 40 hours of work per week for your own.

CRM Administrator

Last but not least is the CRM administrator role. The role is arguably the one you want on your internal team full-time. Their role is really that of a super-user; someone you can turn to when you need a report printed, need supplemental user training or a marketing campaign executed. Let’s face it, CRM can be complicated. One week of vacation can completely erase any recollection of anything in or about CRM from your teams’ mind!  You want someone you and your team can turn to when that happens.

Given the importance of the CRM administrator in your overall project success, it is critical that they are highly knowledgeable and experienced on your CRM version and CRM administration is a good portion, if not all, of their responsibility. CRM is as much experience as it is known.  If they are not working on the product every day, it will be hard to build the type experience needed. The product is simply too complicated and rapidly evolving to really be effective if they are only spending part of their time on CRM. If you don’t have enough time or budget to dedicate a someone to CRM full-time, you will be doing yourself a big favor by seeking a partner who can provide an outsourced or fractional CRM administrator.

And the Secret?

Well, the reality is it may only be a secret to those who are struggling to make CRM an effective tool in their organization and can’t. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your CRM administrator is actually all three roles. That line of thinking will most likely lead to bad results, wasted money, and general frustration.

Now that I’ve shared the secret to staffing your CRM project correctly, you have no other choice but to make it a success!

Have staffing gaps you need to fill? Please reach out via our contact form or email us at  We would love to talk.

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