This is the second installment of the inquiry into the best practices for Strategic CRM initiatives. Here is link to the post published earlier which sets definitions and boundaries for the discussion.
3. Scope Management Considerations.
Usually scope management is understood in a context of balancing the project’s budget, deadline and requirements. I would like to look at scope management in a context of CRM initiatives program planning, rather than project management. Establishment of a linear and/or parallel set of projects delivering small sets of processes with limited functionality over short periods of time creates a more constructive environment for the initiative to succeed. The probability of successful adoption is much higher if basic functionality of a critical process is delivered within a short period, with good technical performance, if it is viewed as the first step of implementation schedule. The Agile approach to scope management allows business participants to discover and learn opportunities for the process improvements they have not think before the start. One “Big Bang” approach creates an anxiety among the business community to make sure that ALL their requirements are addressed, which often manifests in requests for “flexible” systems – one of my favorite oxymorons. That is a real treat to a success of strategic CRM initiatives as it often leads to infighting between business process owners who start to see IT, or implementation consultants, as a bottleneck, rather than a learning partner. The real challenge is to create just a right scope management plan which would allow one to deliver value and performance (that equals adoption success) in short spurs of time. I like to plan phased releases every 3-4 months, if feasible, and it has worked very well to promote user acceptance and constructive partnership between IT and the business community.
4. Holistic design.
It is relatively easy to understand and document existing processes if they are formalized in some shape or form. Since the CRM initiatives deal mostly with “soft” processes which are often managed as “suggestions” rather then “directives”, and offer some room for employees to deviate and interpret – there is a tendency to underestimate the requirements for change management. Let’s face it, the CRM initiatives are requested by management and mostly designed for management, and that is why there is so much adoption resistance. The re-engineered processes have to be optimized for a balance between making the life of employees easier and providing the enterprise control mechanisms that management desires. In addition it is critical to negotiate and agree between functional groups to roles and responsibilities for data entry and “ownership” of data elements based on the value each group brings and derives from overall process.
Some of the most beautifully engineered CRM systems had their wheels fall off due to lack of data integrity and availability. Interests and benefits of knowledge workers has to be designed into a system, to engage them into sharing their knowledge with the rest of the enterprise.
I refer to “design” not in a technical sense, but in a context of WHO, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY people would want to use the CRM application.
I will continue later…