Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and its Implementation.

Management teams of most organizations need to address a variety of business issues related to their sales, marketing and customer service departments. They usually decide to purchase and implement CRM software in order to monitor those activities.
Ask yourself this before you read on:

How would you define CRM?

Do you see it as a magic bullet involving technology and software, that you can then pull the trigger and hit more sales than ever before?

CRM implementation can be perceived as expensive, it is therefore essential that the business understands the return on investment the delivered resource will produce.

Do it once, do it right!

Many companies understand robust CRM is vital in today’s business environment, but then try to implement it on the cheap. Even experienced CEOs have been cutting corners or underestimating the time involved. Often questions arise such as:

“Why do we need to use a CRM consulting firm? We have very smart internal resources.”

It is not surprising that research claims 70% of CRM’s in Europe fail to meet objectives*.

A good and experienced CRM consulting firm WILL add significant value to CRM implementation as follows:

1. THE FIRST STEP IS TO PERFORM A NEEDS ANALYSIS AND DEVELOP A STATEMENT OF WORK. You need specific experience on how to facilitate this process, asking the right questions, and knowing how your CRM system should be designed to address the requirements. You need experience to help determine pain points and priorities. Also, an outside party can help avoid internal politics, personality conflicts within an organization, and provide an unbiased viewpoint.

2. SURE – MOST ORGANIZATIONS CAN ASSIGN A RESOURCE TO LEARN HOW TO CONFIGURE A CRM SYSTEM. But in order to get to the proficient stage, you need to take training and gain some experience before you can configure a system to address the requirements gathered during the needs assessment. This stage takes time and money. A good CRM consulting firm should be significantly more efficient than an internal resource.

3. IN MOST CRM IMPLEMENTATIONS, THERE IS A DATA MIGRATION AND INTEGRATION COMPONENT TO THE ENGAGEMENT. This requires another set of skills. You need to have resources with database and integration experience. This can be fairly complicated and tedious.

4. A CRM INITIATIVE REQUIRES STRONG PROJECT MANAGEMENT, AS ALL ASPECTS OF THE ENGAGEMENT MUST BE MANAGED EFFECTIVELY. Needs assessment, configuration, data migration and implementation as well as the prototype review, pilot program roll-out, training and support all need to be planned and managed. Once more you will find this requires many different skillsets.

5. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT STEPS IN A CRM PROJECT IS PROVIDING TRAINING TO THE END-USERS. A trainer needs to understand the CRM software, how an organization is going to be using the software, and the skills to provide training either in-person or over the web.

6. EVEN IF AN ORGANIZATION HAS THE RIGHT RESOURCES, DO THEY HAVE THE TIME TO DEVOTE TO A CRM IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT ? If a firm makes an investment in CRM software or a CRM subscription service then for every day that you fail in rolling out that new system, money is lost. With so many organizations stretched for resources, adding the significant responsibility of implementing a CRM system does not make sense.

As you can see, even a fairly simple CRM implementation requires a diverse skillset. A good, reputable, and experienced CRM consulting firm can provide significant value to a firm implementing a CRM system.

For more information visit The Harvard Business Review who have developed a document that took 10 years to outline “The four perils of CRM”

The Harvard Business Review, answer to how you define CRM?

CRM aligns business processes with customer strategies to build customer loyalty and increase profits over time.

NB: “technology” and “software” are conspicuously absent from the definition.

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