How to Write a Go Live Support Plan for Your CRM Project Implementation


You’ve selected a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system. It’s almost time to go live with the new system. You’ve done the due diligence, chosen the right people for implementation, and put all the pieces in place to create a system that works (and your team will use).


Few projects can have as big of an impact on your organization as your CRM implementation. Adoption requires effort, and if not done correctly, your team members may reject the new system leaving you with wasted money and effort.


An essential part of your CRM project adoption requires a successful go live. However, going live is a tall order and will likely incur challenges. Do you have a well-thought-out go-live support plan? One that will detail responsibilities and give ownership of the various things required for the system to work correctly?


If not, now is the time to start. Here is how to write a go-live support plan.


Why is a Go-Live Support Plan Important?

When it comes to your CRM project implementation, helping the project move forward is an ongoing process. This support should happen sooner rather than later—especially because it helps support the platform during a defined stabilization phase. The entire go-live process can last anywhere from four to six weeks.


Because of this lengthy duration, having a CRM go-live support plan is essential. Not having a support plan can impact user satisfaction. If your team starts using the system and encounters an issue they can’t quickly resolve, they will be left with the impression that using the CRM system is complex. They may assume that mentality toward the system, making adoption even more challenging.


A go-live support plan helps you address issues early on. This support plan is important because a quicker resolution of problems simultaneously increases productivity—getting them back on track faster.


From a resource perspective, a CRM go-live support plan helps establish a business case to leverage the additional staff during the stabilization phase of the project.


Include these essential factors in your CRM go-live support plan.


User Expectations

The go-live support plan should set user expectations for how to get support—addressing these common areas of concern.


  • Identify who they should contact when an issue arises.
  • Indicate how they should contact the designated support individuals—requests may start electronically.
  • Specify the hours that support is available: For example, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Outline the response time and process: Be explicit in response time, which may vary based on your available resources. Try to minimize the response time when possible. For the best outcomes, aim to respond to requests in less than an hour.
  • State how to make a support request if you’re operating remotely.
  • If applicable, consider a live support option: Users may prefer to speak to a live representative. If someone needs to talk to a live person, the response time should be ideally less than a half-hour, a maximum of one hour.


Stating the process and expectations in your go-live support plan enables users to become comfortable with the process. The unknown of what to do if (or when) an issue arises creates anxiety in users. But filling in the gaps (especially in a remote environment) can ease their worries. Additionally, more information provided helps users become self-sufficient and productive.


Virtual Command Center

It is likely vendors, partners, and implementation partners are in a different location. Therefore, part of your go-live support plan should establish a virtual command center. The command center is needed so all the experts that worked on getting the system integrated and operational are accessible to handle issues that might arise. Additionally, people need to be in place with defined roles and responsibilities to structure the command center properly.


As you plan your staffing, think of your support staff in two categories: the front-line response team and expert team.


The “front-line response team” should be well-versed in how the application works and able to respond quickly. They should be able to assist with login, password problems, and how-to questions—answering a high volume of questions. This team will triage more complex issues and then hand off to the second-line response team.


The “expert team” is the second-line response team. This team focuses on complex issues and develops short-term workarounds. They can perform troubleshooting and work until resolution. In addition, this team will work on more time-intensive activities.


Plan to keep a regular staffing schedule in your virtual command center during the hours you’ve indicated in your CRM go-live support plan. This builds confidence in users since they’ll know when they can get support. Additionally, consider your institution’s trends and staff availability. For example, do you expect heavier hours of usage and business in the morning? If so, you must align your staffing to support these trends.


Proactive Communication

It is important to have proactive communication outlined in your CRM go-live support plan, including system health reports. There should be a straightforward process for users to report any system issues that are known. This is important because if a problem happens frequently, your help desk and support team can get bogged down with the same issue.


When frequent issues occur, include a way to communicate about known problems, stating the expected resolution timeframe. If possible, share a workaround or a suggestion with users so they can maintain their productivity within your CRM.