The following was excerpted from The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management
These days it’s practically routine to pick up an industry trade
magazine featuring a CRM case study on page 1. Somewhere amidst
the paragraph about the company’s new customer loyalty program and
the part about sales uplift increasing 200 percent, you’ll find
a sentence or two describing implementation.
I quiz key CRM stakeholders about their existing and desired
environments from both business and technology perspectives.
My company calls such evaluations CRM Readiness Assessment engagements, but I like to call them premortems.
No, CRM development isn’t sexy, and yes, it’s fraught
with hazards from technology glitches to hiring freezes, but it’s
really the hub in the CRM wheel when it comes to ensuring business
acceptance. The snazziest end-user interface and most enthusiastic
marketing staff will never compensate for the CRM system that doesn’t
do what it’s supposed to. Not to put too fine a point on it, the
implementation project is a critical piece of the CRM puzzle.
I spend most of my time these days evaluating how prepared companies
are to launch their CRM programs, be they departmental or enterprise-wide,
single or multifunction. Sometimes this occurs at the requirements
definition stage, where there is uncertainty about the perceived
need and its implementation viability. Other times it involves evaluating
a company’s existing infrastructure just prior to implementation.
What I do most is quiz key CRM stakeholders about their existing
and desired environments from both business and technology perspectives.
My company calls such evaluations CRM Readiness
Assessment engagements, but I like to call them premortems.
After all, what’s more valuable than fixing problems before they
occur? The best way to do this is to envision possible outcomes
based on current circumstances, using experiences gleaned from successful
CRM deployments. It’s good old risk management, come home to roost.
The checklist below offers a series of considerations
to be aware of before moving forward with CRM development. Make
sure each of these items has been at least considered at your company,
and the more complex your intended CRM program the more mandatory
it is that you resolve the issue prior to beginning development.
The most valuable feature of a premortem exercise
is that it’s a lot easier to give bad news before disaster strikes
than to say “I told you so” after the fact—and after the money has
been spent. A pre-implementation review can alert the business sponsor
to potential roadblocks. Such findings allow CRM team members to
fix problems proactively rather than pointing fingers after the
CRM project has failed, as 60 percent of all CRM projects allegedly
Ideally, the answer to each of the questions in
the above checklist will be “yes,” with consensus on how each issue
will be handled when it’s encountered. At the very least, the CRM
team should be aware of each issue and prepared to deal with it
when it inevitably comes up.