How to Spot CRM Hazards Before They Sink Your Program


Share on LinkedIn

Despite the current economic downturn, the need for organizations to create differentiation through unique customer experiences, strive for deeper insight into customer needs and behaviors, and serve customers cost-effectively has not disappeared. The need for “CRM” is not going away.

However, when I surveyed 133 organizations, using at least one of 24 different CRM technology solutions, I found that the risk of a spectacular project failure is still high. These companies reported over 200 problems, comprised of 27 risk areas in four categories. Thirty-three percent of the problems were related to technology; 27% spotlighted inadequate business processes; 22% were related to “people” challenges; and 18% comprised CRM strategy and deployment issues.

Consider these statements as they portray your organization. A “Yes” or “No” answer will spotlight the hazards before they sink your program.


1. “The CRM solution we have chosen is mature and well-proven in use at other organizations with requirements similar to our company.”

2. “The CRM solution we have chosen is flexible and can be easily adapted to meet unanticipated requirements in the future.”

3. “The CRM solution we have chosen does not have any major functionality deficiency gaps relative to our requirements.’

4. “We have clearly defined how the data required to support our CRM solution will be defined, transferred, maintained, and governed.”

5. ‘We have determined that the CRM solution we have chosen can meet our specific system performance requirements.”

6. “Our business and IT resources have sound understanding of the CRM solution we intend to implement.”

7. “We have a sufficient number of technically competent internal resources available to implement our CRM solution.”

8. “We have done due diligence to confirm that the vendor resources to be assigned to our CRM project have sound technical skills with respect to their company’s solution.”

9. “The CRM solution we have chosen uses the most up-to-date role-based UI design principles so that it can be easily adapted to a range of user needs in our organization.”

Business Processes

10. “We have undertaken to define and document the business processes we expect our CRM solution to support.”

11. “The vendor solution we have chosen is flexible enough so that the tool can be easily mapped our business processes.”

12. “The CRM solution we have chosen can with little effort be sufficiently customized to meet our requirements.”

13. “The CRM solution we have chosen is compatible with the technical architecture environment and future strategy of our organization.”

14. “The CRM solution we have chosen has well-proven capabilities to integrate with specific important applications and databases within our organization.


15. To be successful, the new business processes and CRM solution we intend to introduce will require little change in the culture of our organization.”

16. “We have a well-defined program to support the changes to the new ways of working in our company including visible leadership and communications from top management.”

17. “The CRM initiative will require little change to the business processes used by frontline employees.”

18. “We understand the challenges of gaining acceptance for the use of CRM solutions and have specific plans in place to mitigate these challenges.”

19. “We are investing sufficient resources to provide adequate training and education for users to support their adoption of our CRM solution.”

20. “We have complete CRM solution documentation and will provide sufficient ongoing help for users to support their adoption of our CRM solution.”


21. “We have achieved clear and documented agreement between business and IT leaders about the project objectives for our CRM initiative.”

22. “We have defined and documented the business requirements for our CRM initiative.”

23. “We have defined a CRM deployment methodology based on best practices.”

24. “We have a sufficient number of business and IT resources available for successful completion of our CRM initiative.”

25. “Our schedule for implementation is realistic in light of the experiences of other organizations similar to our company.”

26. “We have put in place a sound cost management governance structure and tracking system.”

27. “We have negotiated a transparent contract with our vendor that clearly defines scope, cost parameters, and service levels.”

William Band
Bill Band is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. He is a leading expert on CRM topics, having helped organizations define customer-driven strategies to achieve distinction in the marketplace for his entire career. Click here to download free related research from Forrester (free site registration required).


  1. Bill: Thanks for providing this detailed list. I’m interested in your thoughts about one possible missing part in the Strategy section: “The CRM system will enable us to achieve our achieve our five-year business plan.”

    #21 above hints at this issue, but doesn’t fully address the question “Does the CRM project enable our corporate strategy to (fill in the strategic goal)?”

    Uncovering this risk would help identify the possibility of implementing the wrong strategy vs. implementing the right strategy the wrong way.

  2. How to Spot CRM Hazards Before They Sink Your Program
    I thank you for the CRM and the criteria you set on the various problem major in the technology.
    Let me get these correct.
    Business Processes
    The problem is initially in laying out the rules on the business processing. I think if the rules are laid out in excellent manner,” the hardware, software and the IT people”, would do better anyway. It is the like the politicians pronounce, “The roadmaps that will guide us. No short cuts in form of verbal talk will help us.” I do not know of any problem that stems from the CRM. I also note that CRM is never perfect whether we have educated person on the CRM or the best program in the PC. If the CEO has not given enough guidance, CRM is definitely way off the mark and all the above fall flat. I have many a times tried the technique with the students, but I have never come up with a better idea then to draw out the timeframe or the map to the go to the place then the IT or people.
    The write up is an excellent however; there are other avenues we have to look into.
    I thank you
    Firozali A Mulla MBA PhD
    P.O.Box 6044
    East Africa

  3. Bill:

    Kudos on a great list of questions pertaining to the 3 enabling legs of the CRM stool – people, process and technology – in order to uncover some of the pitfalls.

    You have raised a historical dilemma amongst most companies that embark on their CRM journey – most have failed to recognize that CRM is a corporate philosophy, discipline & strategy and not a program, project or technology implmentation.




Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here