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26th May 2015

CRM: a state of mind

It’s often said that CRM is not a stand-alone project; it’s a “journey”. But a journey normally has a destination in mind. So, I would argue that CRM is more a journey of change.

A project, in general terms, has a defined structure, resources, deliverables, timelines, objectives, a governance, a delivery method, a change control mechanism, and a bunch of other stuff – all placed in a framework to deliver certain outcomes.

But to derive highest value from CRM initiatives, I recommend that all these factors should be established as an integral component of how your organisation operates and behaves.

The speed of shift and change in the market today is rapid and your business operates in constant state of flux, evolution and change. To best respond to this, CRM should be founded and embodied within the cultural root and body of your business; configured in a way that supports the continuous needs of your organisation, and able to deliver timely and ever-increasing value to your customers and stakeholders – on an almost on-demand basis.

In establishing CRM in this way I put forward the following recommendations:

1. It’s not all about you: Every change you design, build and implement should be in direct response to a customer need or an experience they deserve. Nuff said.

2. Adopt the right “mind-set”: Drive change with a holistic perspective – i.e. with a People-Process-Technology perspective. And, in that order!

3. Think Pareto: You don’t have to get everything right – or implement everything at once. Focus efforts on the 20% big hitters that deliver 80% of the target value. And then allow user and customer feedback to drive decisions in where to invest to deliver ongoing extensions and improvements.

4. Embed Governance: To prioritise and drive change CRM governance should be a continuous business function – with executive level ownership, strategic budget, controls and user engagement model.

5. Establish a culture for continuous improvement: Build a platform that measures the impact of change and value of business outcomes; and, collate internal and external feedback to measure and improve performance against a clear set of benchmarks and KPIs.

6. Deliver a unified strategy: Its often said that one of the common pitfalls and reasons for CRM project failure is misalignment between Business Strategy with IT Strategy. Simple solution: Embed IT within your Business Strategy i.e. don’t create it as a separate one!

7. Implement a CRM platform: There are a plethora of CRM applications on the market. Some offer what I consider as “packages” – with a bundle of features and functionality. Others, such as Salesforce.com or Microsoft, offer a “platform’ – the basis of which, in my view, offers a more effective basis for scaling and flexing to your business needs.

8. Cloud and CRM go well together: Given the immense benefits that cloud computing offers, I’d recommend you look to cloud solutions first and foremost – unless you really gave some very stringent data security issues!

So, yes – CRM is not a stand-alone project. Nor is it necessarily a series of different ‘discrete’ projects that you initiate over a course of time.

I would argue it is a state of “being” … and should be established to serve as an integral framework within the body of your business.

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