Does the acronym ‘CRM’ mean something to you? It stands for ‘customer relationship management’ and with its involvement in many different business areas including Sales, Marketing and Customer Service it is fast becoming a crucial aspect of every business.
The commercial environment today has an ever increasing focus on the customer and because of this we have seen a rise in the number of vendors looking to sell CRM ‘solutions’. From the giants of Microsoft, Oracle & Salesforce, to the lesser-known boutique providers such as Zoho & Capsule, CRM platforms have become big business. Microsoft have stated that Dynamics CRM is the fastest growing product in their business solutions division.
Many of these CRM solutions are being used as a platform on which to develop additional functionality expanding the systems’ reach into other areas of business. Taking Dynamics CRM as an example I have seen it used as a help desk system, a regulatory reporting solution and a real estate & wealth management system. The increased number of businesses carrying out these changes has led to the birth of the acronym ‘XRM’ where the X can be anything.
Strip it back to its core however and you will see that CRM products generally all offer the same functionality out of the box. Chances are you will need elements of customisation to meet your company specific processes and requirements - it is very rare that a CRM implementation is as simple as it first appears.
If you get the implementation right you will see huge improvements in sales performance and monitoring, enhanced customer service and a truly linked up marketing & sales approach. If you get it wrong, your CRM system could be nothing more than a glorified contact database that nobody uses.
Here are my 5 pitfalls to avoid when implementing a CRM:
Making functionality your main evaluation criteria
Picking a platform solely on the core functionality will lead to problems due to the fact that they largely hold the exact same list of features. This might sound odd but the main thing to consider is that you pick something that can be configured and customised to meet the requirements of your business.
Lack of user adoption
As with most things change management, the people are the complex aspect and getting your staff to use the CRM platform is one of the biggest and most prevalent issues. In order to get the buy-in from your staff they need to understand why it benefits them. You need to make sure that they don’t just see it as a tool to help management but a tool to help the business as a whole. If the platform isn’t used by all it will lead to data cleanliness issues which in turn lead to a whole heap of reporting inaccuracies. Make sure you have a user adoption plan before you implement.
MI is forgotten or considered last
A CRM platform is only as good as the information you get out of it. Once you have all your data within your platform, the way in which you use that data is key to success. You need to decide what information you want to get out of the system and decide it early. It will form the basis of your configuration. Consider reports on sales pipelines, new opportunities, lost sales, recent activities and frequent service cases. You need to decide what information you want to pull from the database, how it should be presented, when and to whom.
Seeing the CRM platform as a silver bullet
Requirements analysis often ends up being just a brief list of high level requirements, rather than a detailed description of objectives, supporting processes and associated functionality. This not only results in poor technology choices but also increasing costs and potentially delayed delivery as new requirements appear through flawed or failed testing. Having a CRM tool is not the whole answer.
Project is under resourced, poorly managed and change management is forgotten
The reason most organisations struggle to find value from their CRM platform is not actually to do with the system itself - it’s to do with how it’s set up, how it’s been implemented and, most importantly, how those processes are being managed. As with the implementation of any new system you need to ensure you have sufficient resources available, you have assigned roles and responsibilities to all involved and you are actively managing all the supporting changes around the new system. You often hear things like ‘It’s not fit for purpose’ or ‘The system isn’t user-friendly enough’. Quite honestly, a lot of the time these things aren't true, the change just hasn’t been managed properly.
About the Author
Allam is Greenlight's newest Senior Consultant and our resident CRM guru. With over 14 years of effective change delivery and qualifications in ISEB Business Analysis / PRINCE2 Project Management, Allam is a true all round Change Manager.