To Upgrade or Reimplement CRM – Which Choice Is Right for Your Organization?


Deciding whether to reimplement or upgrade your customer relationship management (CRM) software is not an easy choice. Some CRM users mistakenly assume reimplementation and upgrading result in the same outcome. However, there are specific scenarios when implementation makes sense for an organization and others when an upgrade is the better choice. Below is a description of the main differences between these two pathways toward improving your current CRM.

Reimplement CRM

Reimplementation is the process of launching a fresh version of your CRM vendor’s current software release. This process includes reconfiguring security structures, entities, workflows, business rules, reports and dashboards, and integrations and plug-ins. It also requires a data migration from your current CRM system to the newest version. Clean and high-quality data is critical for this massive data transfer to be effective.

Although reimplementation requires more upfront work with data migration, it makes sense to choose this option for the following reasons:

  • It’s time to reconfigure your entire system by cleaning data and changing your CRM format.

  • Your processes have changed since your initial CRM implementation.

  • It’s been discovered that the initial configuration was done incorrectly, or best practices were not followed.

  • Current CRM security standards require you remove or add business units or launch a different set of security roles.

  • Your current CRM version is significantly behind the newest release.

CRM reimplementation provides an organization a clean CRM slate, particularly when it comes to interface design and data.

Upgrade CRM

Upgrading assumes you start with your existing CRM version and follow a path to eventually take on the most current version of the software. For example, if you’re moving from CRM version 2015 to 2019, you’ll need to upgrade to CRM 2017 as an intermediary step. Ensuring all customizations, processes, and reports work correctly in the newer version of CRM is a critical consideration if you choose to upgrade.

Typically, upgrades are less expensive than reimplementation because they do not require process reconfiguration or data migration. Additional reasons that may sway you to choose upgrading your CRM include:

  • Your primary goal is to take advantage of the new features and benefits that come with the latest CRM release.

  • Your system does not require significant changes.

  • Poor data quality is not an issue for your organization.

  • Choosing the most time-efficient path toward CRM improvement is a priority.

CRM enhancements are separate from a reimplementation or upgrade project. These add-ons should take place after a system upgrade, not in conjunction with it. Once the new CRM is functioning smoothly, focus on enhancements as the second stage of your journey to a more effective and efficient CRM.

A word about change management

It’s important to understand that most failed CRM change projects are due to the people managing the change, not the technology being implemented. Consider the following tips for a successful CRM reimplementation or upgrade:

  • Senior leaders must take ownership of the change plan by building awareness around the need for new processes and tools that support customers more effectively.

  • Anticipate employee reactions regarding the change and facilitate responses accordingly.

  • Create new business processes that will soften the blow of change, such as aligning employee reward structures to support better customer service.

  • Build employee buy-in by allowing users to be involved in the change process and making the business case for CRM improvement clear to all stakeholders.

When you begin to plan your CRM software change, keep in mind that a one-phase solution is quite risky. Instead, create short-term goals via pilot programs and project milestones that allow for adjustments along the way.

What path will you choose?

Which course of action is right for you? Whether you choose to reimplement or upgrade your CRM, BroadPoint Inc.’s Microsoft gold-certified consulting team can help. Our combined software, project management, and business experience ensure your CRM improvement project is seamless. Contact us today to learn more.

Zach Volpicelli