Are you playing snakes and ladders with your CRM project?
Playing snakes and ladders can be fun, especially when you find and race up all the ladders; but when you seem to find all the lurking snakes, the fun will not seem fun for long. At least in the world of the children's games, you can put it down to the luck of the dice. In the real world, it can be even more frustrating, and usually there is no dice to blame.
Achieving CRM success - by climbing ladders and avoiding snakes
Implementing CRM into a business is not easy. However, there are things that you can do that will make the project easier, bringing you closer to a successful conclusion (ladders), and equally, things that you can do that will make it harder making it less likely that you will meet your business needs on time and on budget (snakes).
CRM projects are only partially about technology. They key to a successful project is to be aware of all of the components:
- People – the people who will interact with the solution, both users and often customers
- Processes – how users are used to working and the data that supports those processes
- Technology – not just the CRM technology, but the effect on the total technology environment
CRM projects also require a different paradigm – one not focussed on development, but on delivering a solution. The vast majority of projects start from one of the established CRM technologies, so the project is not about developing a CRM solution from scratch, but about configuring the selected software so it meets the business needs well. This means focussing on the gap between the features that the selected technology offers and the business requirements, rather than developing from scratch. To achieve this, your team need to know what is available out of the box, and design the solution accordingly.
Below I will show some of the key ways to ensure success, i.e. to climb the ladders, and I will help you identify the lurking snakes, i.e. the quick routes to failure.
- Involve your users so that the solution that you deliver does solve real business problems;
- Understand how any third party advisers are remunerated - by licences, by time or by outcomes. How they are rewarded will influence how they advise you;
- Start your detailed requirements gathering from an understanding of what your selected technology already delivers so you avoid re-inventing the wheel and can really use the strengths of solution to deliver true business value;
- Keep your users informed throughout the project so they are aware of what is happening and seek their input frequently;
- Allow time in your project plan to massage existing user data so that as much as possible can be brought into the new solution;
- Train your users, and not only prior to go-live. Also, ensure that your testers are trained in the testing required and that all users are provided with support to answer their questions after go live;
- Ensure that your testing tests the exception cases not just the normal situations;
- Be aware of how your users work, so that use on laptops, mobile devices and desktops are all considered where necessary;
- Focus on all aspects of process – not just on data entry or just on outputs;
- Keep the implementation team small and tight so communication within the team happens easily and naturally
- Becoming embroiled in copious documentation and other processes that were necessary when developing a solution from scratch, but are unnecessary and time wasting when starting from a configurable solution as most modern CRM (and ERP as well as many others) technologies are;
- Allowing users to dictate requirements without starting from an understanding of the functionality already in the chosen technology;
- Selecting the technology without an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of that technology;
- Ignoring the data that users already have because it is too hard to get it into a form that can be consumed by the new technology;
- Allowing IT to lead the project, so they get the opportunity to learn new skills;
- Allowing business requirements to be confused with business processes so a process rather than an outcome is delivered;
- Creating team with members who only know about a small part of the project, so all communication turns into chinese whispers
- Making the project bigger than ben-hur, rather than implementing the solution in a phased approach
- Selecting a technology that is a point solution rather than a more comprehensive solution that your organisation can grow into.
Once you have thrown that elusive double six – getting board and budgetary approval to go ahead with this project - make sure that you climb the ladders and avoid the snakes. This is not as easy as it might sound, especially if you have not done a project similar to this before. If you would like more help in finding the ladders and avoiding the snakes, please contact us .