Posted by : Unknown Tuesday, 29 October 2013

How would you measure success in your CRM project?....For many of us that, contrary to what Mr Shakespeare would have us believe, is the question.

The answer? Well, in truth, this is no single right answer. Often each department, or even individual will have their own idea of what a successful CRM project look like for them.However, what fascinates me is that so many companies often embark on large scale CRM projects without taking the time to truly outline what will be viewed as success. The management team see a business issue, perhaps relating to cost or efficiency, and jump for a quick "fix". "Hey, everybody is using this CRM thingy....we should do that!". The only trouble is that partner's are enlisted, budgets agreed and scope documents signed off before anyone has actually asked "Why do we actually need this again?".

This probably sounds very much like an odd thing to say for a CRM Consultant who spends his life encouraging people to implement CRM. However, implementing it for the right reasons, with clear business objectives is essential. Only then can you truly define true success, see measurable improvements and significant ROI.

What does failure look like? Now that's a different story! Everybody has clear in mind what failure is (Going over budget, missing deadlines...) but that too is often very subjective and is often nothing to do with the objectives of the project. So, without getting any more philosophical, what can an organisation who is implementing a CRM solution do to ensure that their project is successful?

Take Your Time

I chaired a discussion with over 30 delegates at a UK Housing Association conference last week on implementing CRM. When asked what they wanted to get out of our session, one delegate commented "To get it right first time with our CRM deployment".....Good answer

The only way to achieve this is to take your time in the first stages of any project. Rather than coming out of the meeting where you have identified your issue, reaching for Google and searching for CRM companies, take the time to really think about what the issues you are facing are. Identify the issues clearly and the solutions become more defined. Then, document what you would like to achieve from deploying a CRM solution, even writing a list of 2-3 key bullets of what are must-haves for the project to be a success.

Reaching back for Google yet? Hold on! Take the time to think about the wider business. If you are going to invest the time money and effort into a CRM project, why not see what else you can achieve whilst doing it? Can you bring teams that are working in disparate systems together and enable information sharing? Can you drive efficiency in areas that perhaps you would not expect (i.e warehouse, accounts dept...). Doing all of this takes time, time you may not think you have. But take it from one who has seen CRM projects rushed through by managers desperate to resolve their issues, if you don't take your time, you will pay the price down the line.

The time spent at this stage will save days even weeks of time resolving issues during or even after go-live.

Establish A Project Team

Now you have a clear view of your requirements. Ready for Google now? Not yet! Armed with your requirements and project objectives, establish an internal project team. I cannot emphasis enough how important this is. A good, well balanced (we'll come to that in a moment) and engaged project team can literally be one of the biggest factors in the success or failure of a project.

But who should make up this team? Your first inclination may be to involve all the people who have been involved in your discussions so far, or people who agree with your view on things. This is not always the best selection criteria and really any project team should be balanced. Your project team should have people from all areas and levels of the business with varying experience. Fresh ideas can come from the most unlikely of places. At a high level any project team should have:

A strong, driven Project Lead - This individual will be the first to read the documentation cover to cover and the last person to leave the night before go-live. They will get to know the system and therefore your business process inside out. They need to have the skills to draw out of people what they need and the strength to say no when asked for things that could derail the project. Clearly, this person is the most important member of the team and wouldn't normally be a member of senior management (trust me, you wont have the time)

At least 2 members of the senior management team as Project Sponsors. There is nothing more frustrating for this team of individuals who are working hard to make the system a success if there is no buy-in, perceived or actual, from the people at the top. They need to know that their hard work, often on-top of what they do as a day job, will not be for nothing. The individuals chosen to fulfill the project sponsor role must also have a key quality: They must actually care about and be invested in the project aims. I mean no offence, but there is no point in asking the VP of manufacturing to do this if the project will not impact his area of the business in anyway. In addition, even though as senior management they will be extremely busy, they must commit to attending the project meetings. This is crucial if the project is to be a success.

Project Champions from each affected department. These also must be chosen carefully. You are looking for people who are "up for it" and willing to really get stuck in and provide good feedback. These individuals need to know the processes carried out by their area of the business inside out as you need them to bring to the team all the scenario's and "What if's" that everyone else isn't aware of or would forget. In addition, really investing in these people, getting them involved in revisions of the scoping documentation and even asking them to sign-off the relevant parts will give your project a strong presence in each department meaning when things aren't going to plan post-deployment (which always happens no matter how good you are) your project lead isn't running around the building having a meltdown.

Getting the right people in place will be a major factor in a successful implementation.

Chose The Right Partner

Choosing the right consultant/organisation to handle your project is crucial. This person(s) is going to be your guide on so many things for what could be up to a year, the relationship needs to be strong. You need a partner who will support you through the changes that your business will go through during the project. You need a partner who will take the project as seriously and invest as much of themselves as you will. Obviously this comes at a cost, but a good partner can be worth their weight in gold.

What should you look for? A good partner will have a strong track record of delivery and be willing to let you talk to previous clients. They should also be able to assign you a main contact who is technical, who you can bounce ideas off when you need. They should also be easy to get along with. I know that sounds strange, but you will be putting these people in front of a large proportion of your staff. They need to present a positive and supportive attitude and, where possible, be easy to engage with. Your not looking for a partner who wants to make a quick buck and run.
Your CRM partner will get to know your business processes better than you do and going forward as your business develops your solution can do so to with the support of a partner who knows you and your ethos.

Chose The Right Technology

There are plenty of CRM solutions out on the market so how do you chose? Your partner can be helpful in this but of course they may be aligned with a particular vendor. Whatever solution you need to be know firstly that it will fulfill your expectations technical. For example, will you have remote workers who will need mobile capability? Do your process allow for your to fit with what the solution offers or is it crucial that it can be customized to suit your processes? Do you have the infrastructure to host the solution or are you looking to go into the cloud? Are you looking to replace other solutions and bring them into a central solution which may then require integration with other elements? All of these questions must be answered clearly before you can proceed. If your reading this you know that my focus is on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and it truly stands apart in this regard. Sales pitch aside, you will need a technology platform that can deliver not just today's needs but tomorrow's. It needs to be able to be flexible and grow with your business, as you change, it changes. Microsoft Dynamics fits this perfectly and with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 it takes it to a whole new level.

So, how do you measure success in a CRM project? Actually, only you can answer that. However, what is clear is that answering that question, setting your critical success factors before you do anything else, is almost the answer itself.

xRM Consultant (UK) Ltd provide consultancy services in all areas of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Projects. If you would like to discuss your requirements please contact us -


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Having worked with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 in a sales & development environment, my focus now is on customising this awesome solution and showing its true potential.
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