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27th June 2016

8 things to consider BEFORE you start your CRM project

icon-crmI moved into a CRM consulting role around 13 years ago, when I was at PwC. At that time, there was much debate around what CRM actually meant and what was the best way to implement it. Experts, consultants and analysts world-wide talked, wrote and argued about how often CRM programmes failed, and what implementation “best practice” should be.

Over the years since, we have seen huge advances in what CRM technologies can offer, and a lot of blurb from CRM software vendors about what CRM is. So much so that many folks now perceive CRM as a “software application”.

For example, here is how Salesforce.com define CRM: http://www.salesforce.com/uk/crm/what-is-crm.jsp

But does CRM = Software? If so, the why with the considerable advances in CRM technologies do so many CRM programmes still fail?

When I was in short pants I learnt that “CRM” was in fact a much wider and more holistic concept: a mix of strategy, process, technology, practice, people behaviour and dynamics, and other factors. It’s this “mix” that enables organisations to implement changes in their business: changes that help them harness their interactions with “customers”; changes that ultimately drive sales and profitable growth, to deliver positive outcomes.

So, over and beyond so-called implementation “best practice”, what advice would I give to anyone embarking on a new CRM initiative?

Well, here are my EIGHT from Hyphen8 … in no particular order:

  1. Remember: CRM is NOT a software application. Software is just one component of CRM. An important one. An enabler. But just one component nonetheless. CRM is a business strategy – which includes one or more IT components. It’s not the other way around.
  2. Ensure your CRM “vision” and strategy closely aligns with your corporate and strategic objectives. If it doesn’t, try writing it again.
  3. Think hard about WHAT you specifically want your change programme to achieve. Is it growth, profitability, customer retention/loyalty – or what? Be laser focused on the items you want to prioritise, and invest in initiatives that make the biggest difference. Typically, Pareto rules apply here. So get a clear handle on the levers that will drive the highest ROI.
  4. Win hearts and minds of ALL stakeholders BEFORE you spend a penny, cent or dollar on any implementation work. That list includes engaging with the executive, management, staff, partners and, ideally, customers (where applicable).
  5. Focus your CRM efforts ONLY on those things that actually make life easier for PEOPLE – the managers, the staff, and the customer. This means thinking deeply about the processes involved with customer interactions, and delivering the best experiences for those involved. How you use the technology is subsidiary to this.
  6. Invest in a CRM Platform i.e. don’t buy a CRM “package”. A Platform will help you scale, flex and evolve your business over time. At the risk of sounding a little biased, opt for a cloud based platform! Agility is key.
  7. There are no prizes in delivering a 100% solution. Implement business change in short and manageable bursts that deliver incremental levels of benefit and capability. And then monitor the returns from each rollout – as these will help drive the scope and business case for each future phase.
  8. The proverb “Scientists can explain the world, but only artists can give it meaning” kind of applies here too. Technology is the science.

YOU be the Artist.

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