How to Manage A CRM Advisory Committee

Managing a CRM (or really any system) within an organization can take a great deal of time and effort.  It's more than just troubleshooting user issues, conducting training sessions and pulling reports.  Part of a successful implementation includes managing a CRM advisory committee.

The advisory committee is a critical group of stakeholders. They ensure representation of the organization's users with respect to on-going system enhancement as well as being a voice for the users themselves.

Let's dig into some key aspects of how to manage this important group.

1. Compose an Odd Number of Diverse Users

A smaller company with just a few people might identify everyone as a committee participant.  In larger companies, the committee is likely going to be comprised of various staff members. The overall size of the group is ultimately up to you, but it will largely depend on the composition of your organization.

Ensure your total committee size is an odd number.  This reduces the instances of tie voting when certain items arise (keep reading for details on what they might be voting on).

• Don't Elect All Super Users

Key Insight: ensure the group is not made up of solely all-stars.

If everyone in the group has a really great grasp on the system, how it works, and what the potential uses are, they may be biased in their recommendations of what should be included in CRM enhancement initiatives.

Put another way, because these super users excel at navigating the system, they are more likely to embrace solutions that come with additional complexity that may not feel intuitive to others.

• Include Less Savvy CRM Users

To mitigate that risk, it's important to include users at the far end of the spectrum—those who maybe find the system difficult or challenging, or someone who is new to the organization and isn't really familiar with the layout and methods of use.

Admitting less savvy users on a CRM committee may sound counter-intuitive, but it's a crucial point to make. These members are going to push back on complex initiatives and vote for solutions that are relevant across the organization.

• Elect Executive Committee Members

Furthermore, not all committee members have to be avid CRM system users.  You may have executive leaders or those who consume data from the system.  These members can shed light on data integrity and reporting challenges that might be otherwise overlooked.

2. State Your Purpose

A Statement of Purpose or Terms of Reference is a useful tool to ensure clear definition of committee expectations, meeting frequency, roles and responsibilities, and guidelines around composition.

Research has shown that when employees are happy they’re more effective collaborators working toward common goals. Keep employees happy and informed by setting committee expectations early, so no one is caught off guard about the logistics or the part they play.

This lays the foundation for how the members engage within the context of the committee and its work.

3. Engage All Committee Members

Your CRM committee isn't going to accomplish much if they aren't engaged in the process.  They have to have a sense of ownership and belonging in the group.

Empower members to participate and engage actively.  Particularly, those on the weaker end of system use noted above—this group will need to be fostered to engage and ask plenty of questions as this helps keep the push for complexity in check.

4. Set Regular Meeting Cadence

A regular meeting cadence is important.  What frequency makes the most sense will likely vary by organization, but having a schedule with a published agenda is a great start.  We've seen various examples of this over the years, but here is a sample:

Meeting Cadence: Bi-Monthly


  • Review system feedback
    • Goal: Identify any items that should be added to the system backlog of features/enhancements
    • Discuss and add to the list accordingly
  • Review user support cases (These represent support cases from your system users, NOT customers through the customer service department).
    • Goal: Identify trends that might be mitigated by training or new support resources
    • Discuss items and ways to mitigate the trends
  • Review enhancement timeline and scope
    • Goal: Review and discuss which features / enhancements are coming in the next update
    • Plan communication requirements (see earlier blog on communicating changes to users)
  • Review prioritization of backlog.
    • Goal: Identify items that will be grouped into the next update
    • Talk through items you want to build out in the release following the one you are working on now - this helps you always have items on the docket.
  • Discuss overall system culture
    • Goal: Identify any issues (or good news stories!) within the organization that need to be addressed/shared
    • Example: "We keep seeing teams pulling up excel sheets of data that already exists in the system - how do we reinforce the importance of working within the system itself to reduce redundant work and avoid inaccurate data?"

5. Prioritize Properly

One of the items in the sample agenda above is "Prioritization of the Backlog."  The backlog represents the items that users have submitted - either feedback on existing functions or ideas for new features.

The CRM committee will need a mechanism in place for how to prioritize backlog items.  Perhaps it's as simple as a vote, or, it could be more in-depth and include an assessment of the implementation reality vs. business impact.  Regardless of what is chosen for this, it's critical that they have some way to rate/rank the suggestions/features.

A scale helps you, as the admin, keep a list of what features need to be looked at in future releases.

6. Keep it Fresh

Finally, it's important to avoid becoming stale as a group.

One of the best ways to do this is to have terms of involvement.  Perhaps members can be on the committee for a two year period but then need to take some time away.  The timeframe you choose for this will vary by organization, but it's a beneficial consideration to make to avoid having the group become complacent in their approach.

The negative impact of this is often that they no longer hold the engagement level required, meetings get cancelled or pushed off, and they are less likely to participate actively.

That's a no-win situation for all involved.

All in all, having a CRM Advisory Committee is an excellent way of keeping in tune with your user base.  It also provides support to the system administrator, helping keep momentum of on-going system considerations that will ultimately support the users in ensuring the system is meeting their needs.

Need help forming your CRM committee? Struggling with a CRM project? Give our team at C5 Insight a call at 704-895-2500.