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Shaping the future: How to make your specification flexible enough to meet upcoming CRM challenges

Would you like to introduce software such as a CRM system? Then the specifications are one of your greatest assets. However, just like customer wishes and technical possibilities, the requirements for a specification are constantly evolving. Ideally, it is not a rigid set of rules, but offers the necessary flexibility to master future CRM challenges. How does that work? Find out more in this article plus specification template for your CRM selection.

What is a specification sheet?

A specification sheet is a document that is used in project management such as CRM implementation. It defines loads, i.e. requirements and services to be provided, and breaks them down for potential providers. It is therefore also called a requirements specification or requirements catalog.

Alongside the requirements specification, it is central to the planning and implementation of a project – for example, a software launch. The specifications provide sales, purchasing and project management with an important tool for communication. Also because it is part of the contract between you as the client and the provider.

Overall, it is the most important document for the detailed work on the project for you and for the provider. This contains precise descriptions of the tender, the order and information to clarify legal parameters.

Good to know

There is a specification definition according to DIN 69901-5. There it says: “The liability for the goods and services is the “entirety of the claims to the goods and services of a contractor within a contract as determined by the client”.

As a CRM project manager (also known as CRM manager ), you are usually responsible for creating the requirements catalog. The requirements specification for software should include the following content:

  • a project description
  • a description of the initial situation
  • the objective
  • Expected interfaces and integrations to other software products
  • Responsibilities
  • Requirements
  • a glossary, if applicable

You can find out how to create the requirements specification in the following chapters. But first, let’s take a look at the difference between a specification sheet and a mandatory specification sheet in order to differentiate between the two important documents.

What is the difference between specifications and functional specifications?

The specifications and requirements specification are part of the contract between you and the provider. It is therefore important that the specifications are drawn up in good time at the start of the project. But what is the difference between the two terms?

It’s very simple: You create the specifications with your team, the provider creates the requirements specification. The content can be completely the same, with the provider merely adding an estimate of the date and price. The implementation of the requirements (i.e. the burdens) in the necessary planned activities by the provider (obligations) are binding for both parties and part of the contract.

Please click on the image to enlarge.

The function of a specification sheet

The requirements catalog combines several functions. As the main medium of communication for tenders, it serves as a guide for suppliers and you for the project processes from planning to implementation. This guideline also determines the presentations (pitches) in the comparison of providers. For this reason, it usually contains a detailed list of requirements. Other important functions of a specification sheet are

  1. Avoidance of misunderstandings
  2. Securing the project process and project presentations
  3. Recognition of weak points and open questions
  4. Definition and clarification of the objective
  5. Increasing efficiency and productivity

Who draws up the specifications? Example CRM software implementation

If you want to introduce a product – such as CRM software – numerous departments and people are involved. In our experience, it is best to involve all stakeholders in the requirements analysis at an early stage. Possible groups involved in the introduction of CRM software include IT:

  • Specialist departments
  • Applicants
  • Management
  • Sales
  • Project management
  • Marketing

Our tip:

Record the input of all participants as centrally and uniformly as possible. This helps to create an overall catalog of requirements for the system from the individual interests. This results in the most important parameters. In addition to the specifications, this also includes your budget and time frame.

A kick-off workshop is a good way to collect the respective requirements and wishes with the stakeholders. A lively discussion is desired. The easiest and most efficient way is to use an example as a basis. Would you like to introduce a CRM system and write a specification sheet? Then you are welcome to use our CRM requirements overview checklist!

Introducing CRM software is a project in which highly topical trends play a central role. The risks are obvious: outdated requirements can lead to you settling for software that does not cover all the technical possibilities that would be useful for your company. Customizing the specifications is therefore the best way to reliably find the right product. Here you will find the most important CRM trends and what they mean for your requirements specifications.

#1 Personalization


Customer centricity is becoming increasingly important. This includes companies offering personalized experiences. Buyers and the like want you to remember what special wishes and challenges their respective companies have. If you offer this, you will strengthen customer loyalty and secure long-term sales.


The specifications should clearly state the requirements for the personalization of customer interactions. In the simplest case, the solution provides a comprehensive overview of the history. AI-supported functions also allow this data to be analyzed in order to create forward-looking offers.

#2 Automation and AI


Automation, particularly through AI functions, is one of the most important trends worldwide – including in the area of CRM software. Automating processes here means saving resources (keyword: shortage of skilled workers) and increasing efficiency.


Just as with personalization, it is crucial to specify the requirements for automation. Also consider the status of the departments in your company: Sales, project management and marketing must be able to use the AI functions holistically. If necessary, request training and define the framework conditions for the CRM software implementation by the provider in the specifications.

#3 Mobile CRM for remote work


Remote working has long since become the standard in many companies. This presents companies with challenges – including in the area of IT. A modern CRM system should be able to function on the move and regardless of location, as well as having a CRM app.


Ideally, your specifications will contain definitions for integrating the software into your company’s remote working environment. Consider issues such as security, device types and availability.

#4 Data protection and compliance


The protection of customer data is not a new trend, but the requirements in this segment are constantly increasing. New regulations on the one hand and new threats on the other make it essential to use CRM systems with the highest data protection standards.


Dedicate a separate paragraph in the specifications to the topic of data protection. Possible topics are: Encryption, audit trail functions and mobile usability. If you are active worldwide, the CRM system should cover international regulations accordingly.

#5 Integration into your business applications


CRM software implementation is not about an isolated system in your IT landscape. Instead, different solutions work together seamlessly in a modern tech stack. The integration of CRM into existing systems is therefore an important issue.


Define the extent to which the CRM should work together with other solutions such as the ERP system, marketing tools and e-commerce services. This helps providers to provide suitable interfaces.

Create a specification sheet: Step by step to the goal

When drawing up a specification sheet, note the level of detail required for each individual point. In general, decisions that are left to the discretion of the provider do not have to be included in the specifications. It is always advisable to orient yourself to the level of knowledge of the provider or the reading third party in order to go into the necessary depth of detail. To help you, you can ask yourself the following questions on the respective points:

  • Which points are essential?
  • Which aspects are relevant but not mandatory?
  • How much freedom does the provider have? Which details tend to restrict it?

In principle, some content for the specifications is optional – such as possible product tests or milestones. Others have a strong influence on the success of the project – they must not be missing.

Aspects that should definitely be clarified are:

  • Dates & locations
  • Budget & terms of payment
  • Trial runs and test operations
  • Delivery
  • Contact for queries

Specifications structure: This belongs in it

The structure may differ in individual cases, but a very good guide is provided by DIN 69901. The federal government’s V-model XT for IT projects provides further guidance. It therefore makes sense to choose the following structure for the catalog of requirements:

1. Introduction to the project:

Useful contents are a rough definition of objectives, a desired process and a schedule. If there are important deadlines or places of delivery and action, this should be particularly well marked and secured in the specifications. Details of the delivery date, handover process and parties involved in the acceptance procedure must also be clearly defined so that the contractor can comply with these points.

2. Description of the initial situation:

Here you describe the current status of the project and the planning. It makes sense to give potential providers a partial introduction to the project and to describe the objectives and background. Anyone who reads the specifications will recognize which problems exist and which tasks need to be solved. We also recommend explaining the project process when you create the specifications. This allows the next steps to be scheduled efficiently.

3. Description of the target state

Draw as precise a picture as possible of the target state and formulate details of the project’s objectives and expected results. The difference between the actual and target status then results in everything that needs to be done and is explained to the provider in the next step.

4. Definition of responsibilities

In this section you define responsibilities.

Our tip

Make a note of contacts for queries at this point to make the work process as smooth as possible.

5. Service description

Now it gets specific: you describe important points of the scope of services. Define all requirements clearly to prevent misunderstandings. If all points are precisely specified, there will certainly be fewer problems in the subsequent work process. If necessary, also define the respective areas of responsibility here. It is also important to specify the extent to which the product is to be tested or checked before acceptance (pilot operation) and which certifications are required for commissioning.

Our tip

Milestones help to structure the project.

6. General conditions

Specific requirements for materials, resources, standards or risk management are set out in the framework conditions in the specifications. Here you also have the option of setting special conditions – also with regard to remuneration. As the cost estimate is part of the specifications and therefore also part of the contract, it must be clarified in advance what fixed or flexible budget is planned for the project. If there are conditions for payment, this should also be clearly formulated in the specifications; after all, the contract between the client and contractor results from this.

7. Appendix

In the appendix to the specifications, there is space for explanations of terms or technical language and abbreviations used in the main section. In the simplest case, the possible scope of a requirements specification ranges from a list of prioritized requirements to precisely defined wishes over several pages.

Our tip

Weigh up which conditions tend to restrict the provider and which leave him room for maneuver.

Conclusion: The requirements specification as a guarantee for project success

Project managers want long-term success and high efficiency – that’s no secret. In our experience, however, many underestimate the central role that the specifications play. By involving all stakeholders and recording the requirements in a structured manner, you lay the decisive foundation for the success of the project and an efficient comparison of providers. If you would like to introduce a CRM system, you are welcome to use our questionnaire as a specification template.

Checklist CRM requirements & specifications

What requirements does your CRM system have to meet? Select your desired functions, processes and interfaces. Determine the basis for successfully comparing different providers.

Title for checklist CRM requirements from GEDYS IntraWare
Specifications 4