The Benefits of Extending IT Governance to CRM Implementations


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Governance is often spoken of almost solely from an IT perspective, and I think that it’s large part because it evolved from The Principles of Scientific Management, TQM and ISO 9001 Quality management systems. More often than not, IT governance operates in a model whereby boards and senior business executives defer IT strategy and decisions to the IT leaders but create oversight and controls so that the IT delivery aligns with the interests of the business stakeholders – and ensures that the IT and business strategies and objectives remain complimentary and synergistic where possible, and not separate or possibly in conflict. It’s not easy, but when done correctly, IT delivers the maximum value throughout the business and empowers the business to achieve objectives that would otherwise not be possible.

Drilling down a level, the governance model and its benefits are directly transferable to CRM adoption projects, if you do three things.

  1. First, create your project governance as a subset of the organization’s corporate governance. The more your project governance resembles the company’s corporate governance, the more likely your project will link and directly contribute to the company’s most important objectives, and the more likely the project will be both successful and sustainable. In this context, project governance includes a mission and clear vision linked to the corporate mission and vision, acceptance of project risk in a way that references the tolerance, constraints or criteria of how the company accepts business risk, or taking actions to achieve outcomes for stakeholders beyond the immediate CRM technology beneficiaries. This means identifying and considering the interests of many stakeholder groups, and architecting outcomes whereby one group’s results can provide additional value to another. This means looking at the project holistically, and not piecemeal or in siloes.

  2. The second step is to recognize that when stating and slating objectives, business users generally answer the WHAT question (i.e. what do we want to achieve?), and IT answers the HOW question (i.e. here’s how we’ll do it), … but governance thinking is much more focused on the WHY question (i.e. why do we want to do this?). When considering your objectives and initiatives, by applying a governance mindset to focus on the WHY question, in concert with the WHAT and HOW questions, you can better prioritize the actions which lead to the most strategic and highest payback outcomes.

  3. The third step is to support governance strategy with governance tactics and activities embedded in a plan, often the project plan. For example, an early governance task is organizing cross-departmental teams – such as the Steering Committee, Project Team and User Committee – by identifying the right roles, then identifying the specific responsibilities and commitments needed for each of those roles, and then matching the right people for those roles. Notice I didn’t say, here’s the people for the project, what roles do you want them to fill? We started with outcomes in mind and worked backwards to get to the right people. It’s helpful to recognize that the right people are quite often the people with the least availability. That’s not a coincidence, and perhaps why my dad used to say if you want something done, give it to a busy man.

    Governance also includes cultural norms and expected behaviors from your team members. Another governance standard may be to agree that weekly project team attendance at project team meetings is critically important to sharing information timely and across departments, and should not fall below a minimum attendance threshold over the course of the project.

By applying these three steps, IT can better engage with the business, CRM systems can better engage with users and you can infuse the same type of governance strategy, rigor and thinking used at the highest level of the company to your CRM deployment project.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chuck Schaeffer
Chuck is the North America Go-to-Market Leader for IBM's CRM and ERP consulting practice. He is also enjoys contributing to his blog at


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