A lot of Customer Relationship Management projects are destined to fail miserably. Do you want to know why?
Each time I’ve carried out a step-by-step CRM software implementation, I made a point of keeping an eye on issues that could threaten the project. Over the years I came to the conclusion that there are only four real threats. Once these threats are neutralized, everything else is nothing more than business as usual.
We often overlook the importance of identifying and training the best executive sponsor for our CRM projects. A good sponsor is able to map out all the business processes involved, to select and buy the software, and choose the best partners to carry out the project’s tasks.
Not only that, but they can be instrumental in drafting a solid budget proposal and provide key knowledge about the company’s client-base, which is what this is really all about.
On the flip side, a poorly-chosen sponsor struggles to explain the rationale behind project decisions to the people involved. When debating, he’ll fail to find consensus within the team and let the project bring out the worst in everyone, even your non-confrontational colleagues.
When things go poorly, the wrong sponsor is likely to shift blame for his own failures and when the situation gets worse, may even consider pulling the plug on the whole project just to save face.
It’s difficult enough to explain that a CRM is not a tool for quality control, so when the project team calls into question data security, it could definitely jeopardize the project. Think of it this way: if the manually-entered data is incomplete, then data entry becomes innacurate and you end up with completely questionable information. By the time you realize it, it’s too late. Data security is very important and must be protected. In the unlucky case of a data leak, countermeasures must be taken immediately, errors must be corrected and there must be accountability if someone is to blame.
If you’re getting closer to going live and things are looking good, it may feel like you’re on a clear path to success. But it’s very important your project team doesn’t go silent. In fact, at this stage, if the team stops sharing the project’s developments with management and stops debating and challenging each other, they may be headed up a blind alley.
If you carefully analyzed every detail and involved every important party, there shouldn’t be any reason to revisit your decisions, right? But your team is calling into question the software, the structure, the strategy, the user permissions…These all are unmistakeable signs of discomfort with your decisions and they need to be addressed immediately.
If you have faced these four threats before, you may already know: CRMs aren’t for the weak! If you’re not naturally tenacious, maybe this job is best suited for another project lead.
Photo credits: Flickr CC Asher Isbrucker and 12th St David
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