Secrets to CRM implementation success

CRM has received a lot of negative (and perhaps unfair) press over the years. And there’s no doubt that in some quarters, there still exists a widespread perception that CRM implementation is a risky and excruciatingly painful undertaking.

According to Orson Herbst, product manager with Herbst Software, organisations want to buy and use CRM but successful implementation depends on many factors.

“If you talk to any customer, generally they have three CRMs on the back shelf that they’ve bought previously and tried to implement. A very small part of it is actually buying the software, it’s about implementing it and using it appropriately,” he said.

Herbst encourages organisations to look at the opportunities and risks within the business but advises against what he calls “clutter”.

“If credit control is a big deal, capturing and itemising all correspondence for layers of management might be important. But as a user what I’m interested in is a heading or rating that shows me the important ones so I can contact those customers I think I can make a difference with,” he said.

“It’s very important not to clutter up the system. People can sabotage CRM systems very easily and try and make themselves look busy by filling it up with poor quality information. It’s being able to discard that information and make people accountable.”

Coman Burke, pre-sales technical consultant with Ergo cites a lack of staff involvement as one of the primary reasons for project failure.

“All too often we see the scenario where a company has installed a CRM solution, carried out some very slight configurations to it and followed it up with an email out to all staff to tell them they now must use it. This is probably the most common reason for failure,” he said.

Burke also encounters what he calls the “big bang” approach.

“Organisations try to do too much too quickly instead of taking a phased approach and creating a roadmap for CRM. We are currently seeing the fruits of this approach with one large payments organisation, where we rolled out the sales module integrating to a financial system initially with plans for marketing and service to follow,” he said.

Kieran McDonnell, group partner and solutions manager at Microsoft also believes that involvement of the user from day one is a must. This user buy-in coupled with strong project management and executive sponsorship can mitigate risk and deliver a more predictable project outcome.

“An end-user must be part of the project board and a number of user champions should be selected for their positivity and encouragement of the system,” he said.

He often sees companies trying to make savings in project management when they should be putting their “best player in the role”.

“Regular project board meetings must be attended by all parties with the freedom to speak honestly on the risks to the project regardless of where that fault lies.

“And finally, the CEO or at least a high level executive must be willing to stand over the project and step in if some authority is needed,” he said.

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