Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The exponential factor

It’s not a secret that CRM implementations tend to be mind breakers. Aside the usual challenges in functional and technical solutions with IT projects, there’s the ‘exponential factor’. Most risk factors for specifically CRM projects are just exponentially larger. This is due to:
  • Business and customer strategy are highly confounded;
  • CRM processes have a direct effect on customer relationships;
  • A considerate number of the sales and service employees are not inclined or used to information sharing and often have little affinity with IT.

When the ‘exponential factor’ is in play, this can be recognized by symptoms such as: no fit for use, gaps in functionality, low acceptance, shortages in skills, duplicates and inconsistencies , high maintenance costs and not meeting the expectations of the business case.
  
Successful CRM projects balance several ingredients.
Good balance of these ingredients keeps the ‘exponential factor’ out of your project.
 

Vision

An ambitious vision of your customer and user experience and a plan of how the project will get you there. The plan leads the way, it supports in decisions for the other ingredients. You definitely need leadership and senior commitment, during and after the project. The future is a moving target, especially when it comes to market oriented strategies.

Technology

We all want our technology to be as standard as possible. CRM processes require specific functionality, because we always have to focus on where the unique selling / service points within the processes are. The design must be robust in basis because of the dynamic nature of the process, so creativity is certainly a must. Senior users must be involved during all phases: blueprinting, testing and support. The knowledge transfer accelerates tuning and therewith acceptance. The devil is in the details.

Collaboration

CRM processes require commitment and collaboration. This has little to do with projects or IT, it’s there or it’s not. Even the best tool is disappointing when it’s not used correctly or when processes still aren’t integrated because departments aren’t supportive of each other. Time is crucial when it comes to true change. The project can accelerate learning and motivation, but the Go Live is just the beginning.
 

Process

To-be process descriptions are the starting point for the functional design and need to be described at least to the activity level. All related processes are mapped, even when they’re not (directly) in scope of realization. The to-be processes derived from the CRM vision. These process designs are the basic material for training. The functional and technical designs offer traceability to your processes, underlying requirements and process integration points. These should cover your testing variants and user acceptance criteria.

Continuous improvement

CRM is continuous improvement in small steps. Regular process effectiveness measurement gives insight in operational effectiveness and in customer attitude and behavior. This pinpoints us to the room for improvement. It’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed with data and functionality, but still miss information. Specify the information needs and measuring points up front.

Do any of the symptoms sound familiar? Or would you like to share your experience with these ingredients?  

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