Oct 17, 2012

A Leader’s Guide: How Not to Fail at One of Your Company’s Most Significant Software Investments – CRM Part I

Credera Team

Credera Team

A Leader’s Guide: How Not to Fail at One of Your Company’s Most Significant Software Investments – CRM Part I

Organization, Training and Governance

After any major enterprise has wrapped up a CRM installation project, there is always the temptation to breathe a sigh of relief, declare “Mission Accomplished,” and move on to take a new and different hill. Unfortunately, the system installation is just the first battle in a long campaign, and leaders who want their brand-new software to succeed cannot shift focus. They have to win the entire war, not just the opening salvo, and to do so they must immediately move their organizations from a project mindset to a governance mindset.

The first step in instilling that mindset is to put in place a structure that will drive adoption of the new tools, which, properly used, should lead to growth in sales and profitability.  The sad fact of the matter is that when new software fails to achieve its potential, most people blame the tool itself rather than taking a more holistic view and asking themselves: “Did our teams know how to use what we provided them, and did we actually maintain what we provided?” With CRM, a leader needs to establish a CRM governance committee to hold the organization accountable to continuing the cultural changes, organizational changes, and new project recommendations supporting the proper use of CRM, and ultimately, the transformation of the company into a customer-centered organization. If the CRM is to succeed, the governance committee is an imperative.

Business born, business led

So, who should be involved in CRM governance?  Most CRM projects do not start in IT; rather, they start in other business units.  Marketing or Sales normally initiates the project, and the initiating organization usually leads the project.  The governance organization should follow the same path. The governance organization should be led by the initiating business unit, preferably by a senior executive.  Senior Directors, Vice Presidents, or even higher should be ultimately responsible for the new group, for the Governance committee is far more than a technical support group.  The Governance Committee will be the team saddled with the responsibility for the success of the entire project lifecycle and the cultural shifts across the entire enterprise that must occur as a result.

Partner with IT

Do not get me wrong, IT should not be excluded from the CRM governance committee. There is a significant technical component to CRM, even if you build one in the cloud.  While CRM is about much more than the software tool you implemented, the tool is still the core of the process, and as such, it will affect other aspects of the enterprise.  IT can be a strategic partner to drive changes across the enterprise, and IT will be imperative if you want to ensure that the new software will perform as advertised. One of the best ways to ensure CRM failure is for your brand-new software to be bug-ridden, unstable, and prone to sudden crashes right out of the gate. If the basic level of functionality is absent, no amount of process and cultural change will make up for it. Furthermore, IT’s technical expertise will also be of significant value when determining what other enterprise systems will need to change to support or build upon the CRM tool.

Complete representation

Representatives from every other business group should be included as well.  Finance, Operations, Human Resources, etc., will all be affected by the new customer-centric focus of the enterprise.  Each group needs someone with decision-making authority involved in the CRM governance committee.  Members will need to gather requirements and understand the needs of their respective groups to represent adequately those groups in the governance organization.  This group will then drive the organization forward in its quest for customer-centricity.

There will be more to follow in the weeks to come, but there is one question that has always intrigued me:

When large software projects fail, as so many do (some studies say up to 70%), is it usually due to technical limitations of the tool or the capability limitations of the organization that is trying to use it?

Put another way, has technology become our new magic bullet, a one-shot wonder that we put in place, close our eyes, and hope the magic of the system will replace the old-fashioned need for planning, discipline, and hard work?

Authored by Management Consultants, Matt Allen, Manish Limaye, and Katherine Moffitt.  Check out Part II and Part111 of this series. Authored by Management Consultants, Matt Allen, Manish Limaye, and Katherine Moffitt.

Curious to learn more about Credera’s CRM experience?  Contact us or visit for more information.

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