Closing Up for the Night - Customer Relationship Management

That’s about it for this chapter, dudes and dudesses. But there’s one important final piece. It’s what Peter Churchill tells you to take away from this chapter.

Mini-Conversation with Peter Churchill
Peter Churchill is president of Bridge Farm Consulting. He was formerly associate director of CRM and outreach technology at the Center for American Progress. He originally hails from the U.K., and he spent ten years working in Europe and the U.S. designing and implementing CRM solutions for the corporate sector. However, after gaining a master’s degree in political management from GW’s Graduate School of Political Management, Peter now focuses on implementing CRM solutions in the not-for-profit and political sectors in Washington, D.C. And he does it oh so bloody well.

Succeeding with CRM—For Real
The reasons for CRM projects failing are widely documented, from a lack of executive sponsorship to failing to address poor quality data. But the reasons why a project is successful often remain less easy to identify. But for me, beyond all the KPIs, “success factors, ”and revenue increases, a successful CRM implementation means the system is actually being used as intended. That may sound obvious, but it is all too easily forgotten. So these are my three suggestions for ensuring that having built the system, the users really will come and use it.

  • Feel the users’ pain It is critical to remember that for your users, any new system means change, and as such, there is a good chance that it will actually make their life more difficult in some way or another. So when you are doing the initial analysis and requirements gathering and deciding what to prioritize, take some time to learn what would make a real positive difference for your users. Are there current ways of working that they know are inefficient, and if improved, would offer an easy win for the project when the new system goes live? When you can show the users how this new system will finally solve their problems, you are far more likely to ensure:
    • They’ll be more receptive to the new system.
    • They’ll feel like it is being implemented for them rather than for the benefit of big management, the consultants, etc.
    • They’ll be more willing to invest time and effort in working with you on future releases.

  • Start out simple Just because you can implement a certain screen or workflow, it doesn’t mean you should—at least not right away. I would argue that all developers/analysts want to try out new features and build clever code, because adding new fields or page layouts just isn’t that much fun—I know, I’ve built a few! But for a new user, the more functionality that is available, the more intimidating the system is to learn and use, and without them being willing to do that, the implementation will never be successful (see above). I remember a global implementation of a large CRM system. The American version of the main contact screen was incredibly complex, with a huge array of fields and custom buttons, and lots of underlying code running behind the scenes that made the page very slow to work with. The version of the same contact screen for the Italian subsidiary was designed by an experienced sales director who knew his team and their limited interest in a new system. So his version just had the 10 most important fields to capture, plus the save button. The Italian version was much easier to demonstrate and got a far higher user adoption by the sales team, because they could use it on day one, with minimal training, and it was easy to understand. It was then possible for us to build on that success because the users were now bought in to the project.

  • Train them up Training is hard work, and always the first line item to suffer when projects are over budget, over time, and lacking resources. But without sufficient training and ongoing support, you can almost guarantee the implementation will fail, however well the final design meets the initial specifications. So remember.
    • Start early in the process Identify some potential power users, and test out some of the system with them. That way, you will have some readymade advocates who can help train other people because they really know the system and understand why certain decisions were made.
    • Make the training seem real Telling a user “Sorry about that error—but in the proper system, x will happen” is not a good way to inspire confidence.
    • Spend time with the users Formal training sessions are important, but you won’t get the real feedback you need. You have to spend time with the users in their normal working environment and see for yourself what they find difficult or frustrating. That sort of feedback is invaluable to ascertaining what additional training people need and what should be addressed in the next release.

While implementation project management is not exactly my mad skill, I think that there’s enough information here for you to take something useful back to your company. I actually feel like something’s been accomplished.

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