Why did you buy a package in the first place?
Implementing a package solution is very different to a custom build: Within Financial Services, there is a proud tradition of building everything from scratch, or at the very least, customising heavily. This is often coupled with a firm belief that systems need to be adapted to precisely fit “the way I work”. These practices lead to over-specified requirements resulting in a mismatch with the way the package works and ignores years of best practices that are built into the product. For example in the vast majority of cases, the CRM package layout and processes have been well thought through and have worked very well for thousands of other companies – so why not you?
This way of implementing CRM results in:
• Lots of custom development,
• Little benefit from the package’s core capability
• A more fragile solution that is no longer upgradable or too expensive to upgrade
• An explosion of costs and timescales
• Ultimately, all or most benefits of selecting a package are lost.
Underestimating the human change aspect
CRM has become synonymous with systems, whereas it needs to be seen as a way of thinking and conducting business with your clients and customers. The system is simply an enabler for what is often a very big change in the way customer-facing staff are required to behave towards their customers. CRM is not just a technology category. Indeed, CRM software applications merely automate the processes and policies of a committed customer-centric philosophy. In my experience, it is this philosophy that is truly customer relationship management. Effective CRM requires your organisation to take a customer perspective for all your business processes by letting your customers’ actions drive them and the applications that implement them.
People using any CRM system need to understand why they are using it and how it benefits them and their customers. This requires active involvement from management and users. A new way of working doesn’t mean you should assume your users will easily understand how to work the system. My advice would be to make a significant investment in user training and support otherwise the result will be poor acceptance and adoption of the delivered solution.
Ease your way to success
It can be very tempting to try and tackle the biggest and most complex challenge first, but this will often result in dramatic and calamitous failure. You wouldn’t attempt to climb Everest before testing the terrain and checking your equipment in the foothills. So why do the same thing with your CRM implementation? For example, focusing on a smaller, simpler problem first gives everyone time to iron out the teething problems and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the package, while getting some early success, otherwise, yes, you guessed it – you get another high profile failure!
My suggestions for anyone embarking on a new CRM implementation are:
• Choose a product that can meet your long term needs, such as Microsoft Dynamics
• Get help initially, learn from those who’ve done it before, find an experienced implementation partner, who has the requisite business and systems knowledge
• Start small and build on success – regular incremental delivery is best, make your mantra “little and often”
• Stick to the product, avoid unnecessary customisation
• Invest heavily in user training and adoption
• Measure progress and reward desired behaviour