Early customer relationship management (CRM) technology was complex, costly and plagued by poor user adoption. Users who did deploy CRM systems reported that projects failed to achieve expected returns on investment (ROI).

This post is the first part of a two part series on why CRM implementations have such high failure rates across all industries.  Whenever a business or technical solution is implemented, there are always two parties involved in the process: the client and the consulting team.  The first part will cover why failures occur based on the client perspective.

When clients agree to a major project involving a significant business or technical enhancement, they are rarely aware of the effort, collaboration, internal acceptance and risk management required to make the implementation a success.  What frequently happens is that everyone gets excited about the concept and the potential of the enhancements but they fail to stop for a minute to reflect on what it will take to make the implementation of a CRM system a successful endeavor.

There are several major items for clients to consider when undertaking a drastic change to “how things are currently done.”  First, the client’s project sponsor must be completely committed to the engagement and should have authority to make business decisions whenever there is a stalemate regarding business process.  What often occurs during business requirements meetings involving multiple individuals from a business unit is that various “understandings” will surface of what the actual business process really is.  Since business rules and business processes are the foundation to the development of the solution, it is imperative to have a firm answer.  Otherwise, the requirements will continue changing and all control of the project will be lost.

Another important factor in the success of a project is user “buy in.”  This is an enormous challenge and rarely do clients reach 100% user adoption.  Typically, a system is designed based on the opinion of a few decision makers and the masses are left to use a system they had no say in constructing.  This, at times, leads to a rebellion and a project fails based on lack of user adoption.  To avoid this, the client must consistently promote the upcoming changes to the user community and keep them informed of the progress.  Additionally, it is recommended to include power users from each department to participate in the decision making process.

Communication is another critical success factor.  In most projects, clients are assigned tasks and responsibilities much like the consulting team.  It is imperative that if a client has an issue completing their task on time, it is communicated  to the entire project team.  Otherwise, this could cause severe delays and confusion during the project.

RSM implements Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM system using a unique methodology.  During our Initiate Phase, the project manager and CRM consultant meets with the client’s implementation team to plan the specifics of the implementation and ensure that all team members have a clear understanding of the project goals, expectations and timelines.  OurCRM consultants have experience from a wide range of industries and will make recommendations to improve business processes.  The Initiate Phase is vital to the ultimate success of the project and specific tasks and deliverables can vary depending on the engagement.

In part two of this post, I will discuss how the components of this methodology positively affect the outcome of CRM system implementation and provide tips for users which can help make the deployment a success.

By: Russell Karp, RSM, New Jersey Gold Certified Partner for Microsoft Dynamics

[http://www.crmsoftwareblog.com/2010/01/part-one-why-crm-implementations-fail-the-client%E2%80%99s-perspective/]

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