Over the last decade I have been directly involved in CRM
implementations for large companies with hundreds of end-users to micro-companies
with as few as 5 users. Over that time studies that anywhere from 20 percent to
as many 65 percent of CRM projects have either failed to meet expectations or
failed completely. Why attempt to implement a project that seems so likely to
fail? The reason is that you have competitors in your industry that have or
will successfully implement a CRM project. That success will translate in to
better sales and better customer service. There are many factors that can
contribute to the success of a project and most are common across companies of all
sizes. No matter the size of your company here 6 factors that will contribute
to a successful project.
Executive leadership: The executives, or in some cases the owners of
the business, should have direct involvement in the project. CRM implementation’s
can be hard work for those involved, especially the end-users, if the company
executives are not fully invested in its success the end-users will not be
either. Executives must lead the change inculture that must happen for a CRM
project to reach its full potential. They need to demonstrate to everyone that
this project is important to them and the company, and that they wil see it
through to the end. If the front
line users sense only partial buy-in from management they will not be willing
to put in the additional work. After all, they may be very happy with the
current process. The number one
example of this is training. Training is an integral part to an implementation
yet is left off the budget and deemed unnecessary. Proper training will yield
the results the executives are looking for and leave the end-users feeling
Front-line user input: Perceived benefit will
drive a successful implementation. The best way to achieve this is to actively
solicit input and identify key stakeholders from all levels, including the
front-line user, to be an active member off the steering committee. After all
who is going to buy into a new process that did not include their input?
Ultimately they will provide invaluable insight from a user’s perspective.
Executive and users both want a system that will make their positions more
valuable, productive and in the end…easier. Executives are looking for a system to provide them a view of the
performance of their employees, prediction of future sales (pipeline), and customer
and prospect information. End users must be able to easily and accurately
capture and record information in a way that integrates with their work load.
Their input is necessary for success.
Clear goals: Successful
CRM implementations have clear objectives, a well defined roadmap and specific
metrics that will be used to measure success. Start with the reason the
project is being considered and then conduct a thorough evaluation of your
business processes. During this evaluation consider; any issues and obstacles
that may be in place or arise during the implementation process. Then evaluate
what problems will be solved, which processes will be improved, what
departments will be effected, how individual roles will change and how the
organization will benefit. Once these are considered and evaluated establish
clear goals and identify your metrics that will be used to measure success? Clear goals will provide a map to success.
The Right Software: “It’s never the tool” is something we say frequently
and I believe it is true, most of the time. The software is rarely the culprit
for a failed implementation, as stated above there are many other factors that
should be considered first. When it comes time to choose the software the clear
goals of the project become essential. Too often companies are seduced by the bells and whistles of the
software and ignore the functionality that is needed for the processes of the
company. Many times the system chosen is far too complicated for the resources
the company. Also, consider what features are needed verses wanted; the wanted
features are often ignored once the projected is executed. Choose a software
package based on the problems it will solve for your company, not on its
Implementation stages: Implement the project in stages, too many times
I have seen projects fail because it had to be done all at once. All the
planning and testing will not account for real world obstacles that will occur.
Implementation in stages accomplishes a few things: One, it allows for users to
acclimate to change slowly. Second, changes that are identified at one stage
can be implemented before the next stage is rolled out. Third, cost of
implementation can spread over time.
To wrap this up;
construct a diverse steering committee with executive leadership; gather input
from all levels; plan and define your goals, pick the right software solution
(not necessary the one your neighbor has), implement in stages and finally
train, train and train.