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CRM Journey
CRM Software Post Implementation Pitfalls

quote When you are through changing, you are through. quote

- Bruce Barton

CRM Post Implementation Pitfalls

We’ve avoided the implementation pitfalls, managed to identify and automate the best business processes for our SFA, or for our CRM solution. Marketing, Sales, and Service department goals are aligned and are working together. Adoption rates by the users exceed expectations, customer satisfaction is at a premium, sales are rising, and marketing campaigns ratchet up to almost 20% ROI. Congratulations are in order. We’ve succeeded – a generous round of applause. The job’s complete?

Most implementations fail after the go live date, fizzling as user adoption rates trickle off. Remember that financial software publisher? It took a little over three years and several upgrades with accompanying customizations before the CRM software was abandoned.

Recently, Gareth Hershel of the Gartner Group was interviewed at a CRM conference. One question asked during the interview was, what is the key to a successful implementation? His answer was, “There are two things to focus on to ensure CRM success. One is the notion that you are never done with CRM. Things are constantly evolving.”

Client Relationship Management touches almost every aspect of an organization. Organizations evolve daily, in some industries it seems they morph hourly. To stay ahead of the curve, a business must have both reactive and pro-active procedures in place, and plan that these too, will be refined.

With the inherent dynamic nature of CRM, if you don’t conduct and plan for analysis both in terms of quantified and qualified metrics of your implementation, you are doomed to occupy that miserable 40-60% quadrant of failed implementations. We’ve all heard the war stories, Hershey unable to deliver a single chocolate bar at Halloween, Nike losing shoe orders, but stunning examples of companies who’ve done it right do exist, companies like Cisco or Boise Office Solutions.

Those successes have several things in common; they divide the implementation into manageable segments, and test with live volatile data until the processes are correct. They build on features post-implementation infinitely. The second wave of implementation is where a firm begins to gain significant increases in productivity, and measures these in terms of reduced costs, increased sales revenue, customer loyalty, and client satisfaction.

As soon as that perceived value is disseminated to each and every individual employee, it reinforces not only the credibility of the system but also the enormous value gained. Pride and integrity become part of software culture. Delivering that to the customer honors the provider.

What are the post implementation pitfalls?

  • Failure to conduct a post-implementation review, and establish continual successive reviews
    It’s amazing how many implementations are never evaluated. IT implementation statistics are horrifying; 14% percent are abandoned or fail completely, 40% either barely achieve or never meet their objectives. The statistics for CRM implementations in particular are even worse, between 50-80%, according to The Gartner Group and Meta, fail outright. Therefore the first step after going live, is conducting the post-implementation review.
  • Not setting specific metrics and incentives for the users
    Each department should have a clear understanding of the metrics that will change after the implementation. Something as simple as stating that a complete client history will be available to each Customer Service Representative after the implementation can easily point out the benefits of not having to hunt through three departments for warranty dates. Document any changes to these metrics and amend them as you change the scope of the implementation. Realize implementations are dynamic, objectives change but justify those changes, and market them to your user community. Disseminate them as soon as possible. 
  • Failure to establish change procedures
    The second part of Gareth Herschel’s comment continues, “The second notion is that it takes 18-24 months to change and reinforce the behavior of end users with new CRM software.” Since a CRM implementation is never complete, and we expect constant change with the client interaction, a thoroughly documented Standard Operating Procedure for implementing change must be in place with clear lines of authority. Disseminate the new procedure immediately and plan for the required time before it becomes effective. Measure the success of your change procedures, and refine them constantly.
  • Underestimating the continual need for training and support
    A dynamic CRM solution requires pro-actively trained and informed users with a choice of training methods; help, online training, or formal classes. Tailor your methods to your culture and your end-users. Realize a VP of Sales will probably prefer one-on-one training from an expert end-user rather than a formal classroom environment. Establish a help desk if necessary, and monitor patterns.
  • Not adequately measuring ongoing customer satisfaction
    Customer satisfaction surveys are crucial. Trends must be recognized at their earliest opportunity.
  • Failure to develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for consistent marketing of the CRM
    Change is a given, and human nature resists change, so change needs to be sold continually to ensure adoption rates achieve the set goals. Exceeding those almost guarantees a successful CRM environment. Create an internal CRM user group and listen to their feedback, but establish reporting lines that have the required authority to consistently market to the users in possible new formats.
  • Realize that the definition of a client can change as a business morphs
    Large companies define as their clients not only the person who purchases a product or a service. The definition of a customer more often than not includes vendors or employees who telecommute. Publicly traded companies must surely put their shareholders on their list of clients. If your company has a broad client definition, expand your metrics and monitoring to include these as part of measuring customer satisfaction.
  • Not beginning the post-implementation review immediately
    The post-implementation review should be part of the initial project scope. The development of a post implementation plan from the review can kick-off the second phase of the implementation. This process should be repeated with each successive phase, post-implementation review, refinement of the post-implementation plan, until you’ve finished the implementation. Trick statement there, according to Herschel’s philosophy, you’re never done.  
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