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What is a CRM Solution?

Frequent readers will be aware that I refer repeatedly to a CRM solution. I thought that it would useful to define the term ‘CRM solution’ and to show how it differs from a ‘CRM system’ or a specific technology. A CRM solution transcends the technology, i.e. it is more than the technology. A CRM solution is the way that you work to meet your clients’ needs. It is everything that your people do to resolve your clients’ needs.  A CRM technology is only as good as its implementation, and for first-time CRM projects, there are many potential pitfalls along the way.  To understand some of the questions that you should get answered before embarking on your CRM project, read 'Seven essential questions to start your CRM journey on the right foot'.

The components of a CRM Solution


Although every organisation will have a CRM system, relatively few organisations have a CRM solution. Statistics such as 14% of CEOs would like to junk their CRM and start all over again really highlight this.

So what is the difference between a CRM system and a CRM solution?

A CRM system is very technology driven – the focus is on the technology, with people, at best, playing catchup. A CRM solution is People then Process then Technology, all working together to deliver the desired result of looking after your customers.


The people are your team members and your customers. People may also include suppliers and other third party individuals are a key part of your ability to deliver what your customers need.


The process is how you and your people look after your customers – what is done, who does it, when and why.


The technology is the software and underlying hardware, which help the people make the process happen.

Symptoms of a CRM system

The overarching feeling when dealing with a CRM system is one of resentment. The system fails to deliver both on the user’s expectations and on the management expectations – the reasons that you implemented it. It is not delivering the return on investment that you expected, and perhaps that you were promised. Other symptoms include:

  • Users are reluctant to use the solution, preferring their previous ways of working
  • Reports are inaccurate or difficult to achieve in the timeframes needed

The challenges with reports may be caused by the users not using the solution as it was intended, so the data on which the report relies is missing or inaccurate.

Moving from a CRM system to a CRM solution

If you have a CRM system, rather than a CRM solution and you want to move to a CRM solution, or you are implementing CRM and want to ensure that you do end up with a working CRM solution, there are some key considerations:

  • Keep the ownership internal
  • Training

Keep the ownership internal

One of the commonest reasons for ending up with a CRM system, rather than a CRM solution, is that the project was vendor driven – either a technology-vendor or an implementation-vendor. A technology vendor is remunerated on licence or software sales. An implementation-vendor is usually driven by billable hours sold. Using these people is fine, but when you use them, be aware of their drivers and plan accordingly.

To achieve a CRM solution that works for you, your people and your organisation, you must have a project leader who is driven by your needs. This leader should be remunerated on your results. Additionally, this leader should understand enough about CRM, and about your selected technology, to guide the implementation decisions taken.

WIIFM – What’s in it for me

Accepting that most people – your users, your clients, your implementation partners - will see things from their perspective, WIIFM, and focus on their own needs, is essential. To overcome this, your project leader needs to be able to see the whole project as well as understanding the needs of individual users. This plays out in many areas, including only accepting a requirement, or a change when the effect on affected people is considered. Your project leader needs to switch from big picture thinking to small-scale thinking and back again. This needs to be remembered throughout the project – from scoping to design, to implementation, testing and training. Each facet of the project must meet the needs of a diverse group of people – not just the person responsible for that bit.


Last, but not least, training should be a major part of the project. Training too often training forms part of the project plan, or even the sale, but then does not really happen. When thinking about the training requirements, we should reflect again on people, then process, then technology. The hard part of a CRM implementation is rarely the technology, at any level – it is the change management. . Without adequate and appropriate training, it is, at best, unrealistic to expect change in process to happen.

There are several different sorts of training that will form part of a CRM solution implementation project:

Let’s tie this all together.

The difference between a CRM system and a CRM solution is far more than words. The approach to the project will decide which of these you end up with. When you take an approach that discovers, understands and delivers on the needs of everyone involved in the result, you will end up with a CRM solution. As Simon Sinek said “start with Why?”

Published by Gill Walker

Who is Gill Walker?

Gill Walker is many things:

  • She is an author who loves spreading knowledge of CRM and specifically Microsoft Dynamics 365 via articles such as this;
  • She is an expert consultant who has been helping her clients with their Microsoft Dynamics 365 (and previously Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft CRM) challenges since 2002;
  • She is a professional trainer who shares her wide knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics 365 with her training delegates – so they can implement and manage their Microsoft Dynamics 365 more easily and effectively;
  • She is a speaker who shares her knowledge of varied CRM topics with her audiences;
  • She is a troubleshooter – who helps organisations with their sticky problems.

Please feel free to contact her via linked in (https://www.linkedin.com/in/crmconsultant/) or email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal Consultant, Gill oversees all business operations and strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions.  We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring.