The first step in deciding whether your business needs a CRM administrator is understanding exactly what it is that a CRM administrator does. A CRM administrator bridges the gap between the CRM system and the users who interact with it.
To do this effectively, the administrator must have an in-depth understanding not only of the CRM software, but also of sales, marketing, business processes, and how they relate to the CRM software. In a full-blown CRM installation, every department will have some interaction with the software—requiring the administrator to have some interaction with all of those departments. This can present problems when trying to use existing IT or marketing staff as a CRM administrator. The successful interdepartmental implementation of a CRM solution can be hindered by their limited understanding of other departments and business processes.
On a practical level, a CRM administrator needs to have IT experience, an understanding of marketing practices, and strong interpersonal skills. Much of their job will involve verifying and reconciling data that has been entered into the system, and educating users on how to correctly enter that information in the first place.
They’ll also have to provide training and education for new users, and for existing users as the CRM system evolves and grows. They need to know how to customize the software as needs change, and how to troubleshoot the system when problems arise. As the business grows, so will the demands on the CRM administrator. If you’re using existing IT or marketing staff to administrate your system, these increasing demands will take more of their attention from other tasks.
When do I Need a Dedicated CRM Administrator?
As every business is different, there is no easy answer to this question. Hiring someone to handle your CRM system is an investment, and not a cheap one. Deciding whether it’s time for a dedicated administrator will largely depend on the answer to these two questions:
- What are the foreseeable responsibilities for your CRM administrator?
- Can your existing staff effectively handle those responsibilities, along with their regular duties?
Depending on the size of your business, your CRM administrator could have a variety of responsibilities. For smaller businesses, the administrator will have to deal with things like password changes, adding custom fields, creating email templates, and managing staff training and inquiries. At the enterprise level, CRM administration can involve ERP integration, managing security concerns, handling individual and group policies and permissions, developing marketing automation templates, and creating custom applications.
While it is possible to have the role of administrator split between two or more departments, it’s a good idea to monitor all those involved closely, looking for signs that the system is becoming too demanding. There will be a tipping point where the system grows beyond a split role. If you’re aware of this starting out, and plan for it ahead of time, you can transition to a dedicated administrator without any major issues.
Allowing your existing staff to handle CRM administration can be tempting, and can save you some money—but there are risks. A CRM administrator needs to wear many hats. They need to be part programmer, part manager, part educator, and part diplomat. On top of all of that, they need to be part whatever their job is when they’re not handling your CRM needs. That’s a lot of parts for one or two people.
If there is a problem with the CRM system, their attention will be drawn away from other duties, and vice-versa. As the system grows, their attention will become more divided, creating the possibility that they aren’t able to do either of their jobs effectively. If your staff has the skills, abilities, and time to effectively manage your CRM system, then you may be able to delay hiring a dedicated administrator until the system outgrows your staff.
Not Without Risk
Working without a dedicated administrator is a balancing act. You have to weigh the cost of a dedicated administrator against the investment you’re making in a CRM system. You also have to factor in what you’ve invested in your existing staff, and the other roles they’re filling.
In the best-case scenario, they will successfully manage both tasks, keeping your CRM system running. When the system outgrows their abilities, you can hire an administrator and have your staff get them up to speed. This can work well if you manage your growth and bring on a dedicated administrator before the CRM system becomes overwhelming. In the worst-case scenario, your staff won’t be able to handle both tasks. Then, it may be necessary to provide more support for their original role, or you may have to hire a CRM administrator earlier than you anticipated. Either way, a careful, measured approach should help you avoid many of the potential difficulties.