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CRM Deep Dive Series: A Lean Approach to Creating Value During Implementation

We’d like to introduce you to a different approach for thinking about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software implementations in a series of blog posts over the next several weeks. Our company focuses on Microsoft CRM so naturally we’ll keep it mostly in that context but we think the insights apply to solutions from other CRM software vendors also.

Too often CRM projects develop into a panacea – a cure for everything that ails you. Every department in the organization participates, and the project has a far-reaching scope. In this case the data model, solution design and implementation can take months. Then, too often, the end results do not support the original goal, or the actual business processes for customer relationships, sales, marketing or service. The CRM solution goes live with a ‘Big Bang’, and then either fizzles or implodes once the users are working with it on a daily basis.

This blog series will take a case study approach to providing recommendations for how to structure the various phases of a Microsoft CRM implementation project. It can be applied to your situation whether you are implementing Microsoft CRM from scratch or overhauling and improving an existing application. Our recommendations will include tips on how to apply Lean Enterprise principles to your CRM project, and the application of principles from agile software development.

The five-step thought process for guiding the implementation of lean techniques is easy to remember, but not always easy to achieve:

  1. Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
  2. Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
  3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
  4. As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
  5. As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.

Relating this list of principles to a Microsoft CRM solution, think of your customer relationship management processes as the “product family” which creates value to your customer, and your CRM solution is a key part of this process.


Our first topic is value identification and mapping, and future topics will include tips on how to expeditiously work through the phases for Planning, Preparation, Requirements, Rollout, Results and Next Steps.

An article written for magazine over 11 years ago touches on some concepts which are still relevant today for planning and executing a successful CRM project, even with the extensive changes seen in technology for CRM software. In CRM: A Lifecycle Perspective it states:

"To properly implement CRM, executives must first uncover the root cause of the business problem (or problems) hampering success, and then determine how customer management or integrated treatment of customers can help solve the problem."

This article is a great starting point to make certain that your business perspective and priorities are clear surrounding the purpose and use of a CRM system.

To get you started on this journey our first blog post in the series will discuss ‘Where to Start – What is the problem to solve or opportunity to address that will create value?’ Look for this post towards the end of February.

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