CRM initiatives used to be rightly considered to be the most challenging Enterprise Software undertaking by many people in business, yet many companies dipped their proverbial ‘toes” into this dangerous “water”. The reason is, that when these initiatives do succeed, the return on investment is very fast and spectacular. During the last few years rates of CRM failures declined substantially, but only because the expectations of returns declined even faster. So if your idea of CRM implementation is glorified Contact Management with rudimentary Pipeline, Help Desk and Marketing Automation, this read is not for you. However, if you are in hunt for a sound return on CRM investment, you may find this writing to be of interest.
It is important to understand why so many enterprises continue to sink money into implementing one CRM software after another in search of adoption and ROI, without experiencing either. I will explore them in this, and subsequent posts, based on my own experience as well as what I have learned from discussions with other practitioners.
1. Clear definition of objectives.
The objectives are often articulated in terms which are not specific or measurable – “Improve Customer satisfaction”, “Obtain 360 degree Customer visibility”, “Increase time available for Sales calls”, “Improve Sales efficiency by 13%” – are quite common and absolutely useless if not harmful.
First and foremost, we have to manage better communication….Project failure and success seem to depend on saying, “Are you able to accurately articulate and collect what the requirements are?” and “Are you able to express the right estimates?”…. Too many times, the collection process is weak, because the customer is not easily able to articulate [his needs] in language the people [on the project] understand. [S]oftware estimation is not a trivial exercise; it is still an art rather than a science.
There is either no measurable target or agreement on base line and measuring methodology. The agreement is the crucial word in this sentence because we deal with the open economic system which can be influenced by multiple market factors outside of the sphere and control of this initiative. So it is difficult to come with clear metrics which would allow for measurement, i.e. accountability, and people are not often motivated to do difficult things without effective leadership. The result is a list of features and functions which are collected without asking – How this feature, function or process would affect the GOAL?
2. Effective leadership.
The leadership is very often is outsourced or delegated to IT after initial, very loud announcements:
In American culture, we tend to equate leadership with yapping. There is no correlation.
I would like to thank Michael Krigsman for posting these and some other excellent references and analysis in his ZDNet blog.
That is why effective leadership is critical –
It is much easier to be a critic, so I will try to be constructive for a change, ranting can get very tiresome. From my Best Practices notebook I can suggest the following targets as examples:
“reduce selling cycle by 5% first year, and 7.5% during subsequent 2 years without decrease of average deal size, normalized to our industry market condition”;
“decrease deal discount rates by 10% from the current (pre-initiative go live) levels, normalized to industry market condition”.
These do not reflect the whole CRM footprint, but I found the SFA part is more challenging, that is why these are exampled, but I hope it is illustrative enough to extrapolate to Marketing, Support, etc.
Oh, I would love to use this new SFA system!
It is business leadership which needs to step to the plate and articulate WHAT do they want to achieve, and WHY these are the most critical targets to aim on. It is also very important that achieving agreed targets does not become an IT challenge, but remains a business challenge thru training, adoption, and compliance management. The IT is an enabler, not a deliverer of economic results.
I will continue later with the rest of W’s
I have six honest serving men,
They taught me all I know.
Their names are Who and What and When,
Why and Where and How.
– Rudyard Kipling