CRM projects don’t succeed with the flip of a switch or wave of a magic wand.
Indeed, for the first 15 years of CRM history, practitioners were worried about the prospect that such projects can fail, and rightly so. In 2009, for example, Forrester Research was reporting that 47% of all CRM projects failed.
In recent years, however, with the rise of SaaS applications and cloud CRM, organizations that implement CRM seem to be avoiding many historical trouble spots, such as failing to secure sponsorship and seeking overly ambitious functionality from the start. But as with any technology project — built using on-premise software or subscribed to via the cloud — CRM projects don’t automatically succeed.
Someone recently asked me: If I’m running a CRM program and the management team doesn’t enforce the new rules or make people live their lives in the new system, how do I make them do that? The answer is that you can’t. Accordingly, don’t launch CRM projects without executive buy-in. Change must come from within. If executives aren’t committed to the CRM project, don’t expect middle managers to buy in. Likewise if the head of sales or service won’t lead by example — and make employees work differently — don’t expect CRM project success.
2) Do the right amount of planning.
Plan enough so you know what you’re doing, but not so much you never get anything done. Start by taking a step back and assessing your business’s goals and objectives. Next, chunk these objectives into smaller pieces. Employees need time to absorb changes. Additional functionality may also require non-trivial levels of systems integration. In short: crawl, walk, then run.
3) Take a balanced approach.
Beware executives who see CRM only as a system for building them better reports. Sales, service and marketing employees will demand: What’s in it for us? (As Daily Mail publisher A&N Media learned.) Accordingly, focus on making customer-facing employees more efficient. Start by automating as many tasks as possible and ensuring CRM is a “get your job done more easily” system that — owing to high levels of user buy-in — doubles as a great “here’s what’s going on across the business” tool for managers.
4) Less is more.
Whenever possible, get your CRM project up and running quickly by first implementing only core CRM capabilities. Get users hooked. Show them what’s possible. See what they need next. Then add additional capabilities — and system integration — via short project phases and agile sprints. Master cloud CRM as you go.
5) Tap the right technology.
Consider your choices: cloud versus on-premise software, large vendor versus small. In general, all CRM projects should focus first on desired business outcomes, not technology. That said, when seeking the best tools for the job, beware little CRM vendors. Especially with cloud software, (vendor) success begets (customer) success.