It only takes a few minutes browsing the internet, to come up with tales of woe about CRM implementations that have 'failed'. However, success or failure is not a matter of chance. In our experience there are clear reasons that can be identified for systems not meeting business requirements.

We have found that the main points of failure are:

1) Failure of senior management to engage in the project. If the top people are not seen to be committed to making CRM work, then there is no way that the rest of the organisation will pick it up effectively.

2) Failure to understand and document the business requirements properly. Having a detailed written specification, is the only true way to establish whether or not a CRM project has met the business requirements. In order to produce this, the business must be prepared to put in adequate time to read and understand what they are committing to and understand the repercussions of getting it wrong.

3) Failure to provide effective user training. CRM training is not just a matter of going through screens telling users what to click. Unless there is a broader understanding of what the objective of the task is and, most importantly, how it helps the user in their job, training time will be wasted.

We find that these factors apply equally to existing system failures as well as to new implementations.

What is interesting, is that it is that it is very rarely technical issues with the software that cause problems. However, because a user's perception is that 'The CRM' doesn't work, this tends to deflect and confuse corrective actions, by focussing effort in the wrong place. In many instances this has led to businesses taking the drastic step of changing CRM systems, only to find that they end up in the same position again some time (and a lot of expense) later.

CRMs are business systems which should be continually reviewed and adjusted in line with changing business needs. It is for that reason that CRM systems should be 'owned' by people with the closest business relationship to the system. This is typically the sales, marketing or customer services teams. The biggest number of failures of CRM occur where they have been devolved to the technical department and run as just another IT project.

So, it is clear that a successful CRM relies more on the process by which the application is implemented and maintained than the physical software. That said, the product chosen must provide functionality to both support the current needs of the business and have 'scalability' to allow it to adapt to future changes.

We have a well-established implementation methodology for new projects which reduces these risk factors as far as possible and puts in place an on-going routine, which should maintain the usefulness of CRM in the business. Where we are called in to assist with a failing system, it is often only by stepping back and appraising the underlying business process requirement that a solution can be established. In all cases business needs are the focus rather than adjusting the way the software is configured.

It is impossible to provide a formula for successful CRM as each business case is different. Our experience gives us the ability to consult effectively and deliver a solution that will provide good service. Please contact us to find out more.