Overview of the Testing Phase of a CRM Implementation


We’ve covered the discovery phase of your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation, discussed which business processes you need to consider and provided an overview of converting your data from your legacy system to your new CRM. Today we are going to talk about the phase of the implementation that tends to be the largest time commitment for users – testing. All of these phases and more were outlined in our CRMready Webinar series that can be viewed here.

When deciding who to involve in the testing phase your CRM project, you want to be sure you have a representation of everyone in your organization that will be using this product. This is potentially everyone from the finance team, to fundraisers to your marketing department. You want to be sure all aspects have been tested before you go live with the system. When picking people from each team, you want to look for individuals who are thorough, will look for issues, point out anything that doesn’t initial make sense to them and you want to be sure these employees are ones that will have the time to dedicate to the testing phase. Here are some other things to consider:

Mark Your Calendars

During this phase, we recommend that you plan ahead and have your employees mark their calendars with the different testing phases. You will be looking for LOTS of feedback from your employees, so be sure they are able to give it to you by their deadlines so you stay on track.

Set Testing Deadlines

You need to be sure that you specify an end date and make sure people are aware that there is an end date. When you don’t specify an end date, then everyone will leave this task to the last minute and will extend the testing phase longer than you allocated. If your testing period is 3 months, you need to be sure you have a plan in place for what you are testing each week and what you will be accomplishing.

Within Scope

Beware of any ‘grand ideas’ that your employees propose. These ideas may be wonderful, and something that you want to implement, but make sure you ask yourself ‘is this in scope of the current project?’ Often times these great ideas are ones that can be done post project. Be sure you consider every idea that is proposed, but before implementing any of them, ensure it is within scope of the original proposal.

Change Management

The testing phase is a great time to get tips on what people areas are causing your employees to struggle. While you are testing, track these problem areas and develop them into training tools for the rest of your employees once the project has been launched.

The testing period is the time your employees take to get comfortable with the new system. This is different than becoming knowledgable of the system, which can be taught in a matter of days. It takes a lot longer to become comfortable with a system and the testing process gives your employees the chance to take risks and make mistakes that they might be afraid to in the live environment. By giving people a chance to ease into it, your user acceptance and adoption rate will be much greater, which is a long term goal of many CRM implementations. You can deliver the most beautiful technical system, but if people don’t use it, then it becomes a failure.

For more tips on the implementation of a new CRM system, register for our CRMready Webinar Series and qualify for a FREE CRMready assessment.

Watch the CRMready webinar now!

What other parts of the testing phase do you think are important?

Monika McMahon

About Monika McMahon

Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.


  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    This is a great post that I’m sure is useful to any organization preparing for User Acceptance Testing. I love the focus on managing testers.

  2. I find that it really helps to have a combination of guided and independent testing during the testing phase of a CRM project. I usually start by gathering all of the testers and walking them through a particular piece that they should test. During that time, I make sure to demonstrate the level of detail they should be going into, the time that they should expect to spend, and any recommendations that I have to get through testing. After that initial guided session, they can test the remaining processes on their own. I find that the more time you spend preparing your testers, the higher quality your feedback will have.

  3. Yes, this is the most important phase to ensure people really adopt the system. When people spend time here you can really see it in terms of buy-in from users.

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