An overview on how to ensure your CRM yroject will become an epic success. This presentation does not aim to cover all aspects, but focus on topics that have been important either in failure or success from my point of view, backed by research and business literature on relevant topics.
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How to ensure your CRM project becomes an epic success.
If you believe there is a few obvious/given points in this deck, remember that all tough theoretical in it’s approach, everything in here is based on experience both from participating and/or observing Dynamics CRM projects over the last few years. I’ve included both the elements I often see fail and the ones with a clear impact on success, most of it with good support from recognized business literature and research (listed at the end).
The reason behind, the needs, the goals and the vision for each CRM project should be very clear. In order to achieve this the business needs and vision generating the need for CRM projects needs to be clear as well. You must also be sure the part of the answer to the business strategy is actually a CRM solution. In order to cover each units needs, it should be handled as different projects or at least work-streams/releases. In order to ensure all projects are working towards the same goal, a program should coordinate and define overall terms and vision.
Having the overall Business strategy and Customer program is supported by very basic business strategy theories as well. In order to get full effect of the solution, you need to have a greater picture to align too, to ensure that all activities complement each other and strive for the same end goal. The design and adoption part of the actual CRM project should also bee seen as operationalization of the Customer program, more than a technical IT project. This would then mean working on implementing the needed activities and how to support them. How you manage to align the business activities and ensure fit to the big picture will have huge impact on your differentiation and hence strategic position. Everyone focuses on “a great customer experience”, how are you going to do that different and prove it in real life?
As defined by Grant, Strategic Fit, is essential to ensure a successful strategy implementation. This goes for the Customer Program and the resulting CRM implementations as well, it needs to match not just the overall strategy, but also the existing resources, capabilities and values. If you encounter any gaps here, you should make it a part of the overall program to develop for instance the resources to achieve a needed capability.
An overall Customer program is used here as the more common example from the wild, it could be other programs as well, for instance more directly Sales and Efficiency improvement programs, but the last one might be considered less as a strategic program, as operational efficiency in itself isn’t strategy (according to Potter at least)
This is the basics, but quite often not enough time is spent here. And if you suddenly find yourselves establishing a CRM project and feel a bit uncertain on the vision and business priority your project is linked too, please backtrack before moving on executing the project deliverables. Effort cannot make due for a bad vision to start with, so make sure to spend enough time on making a vision, good stories and uses cases, in order to communicate and strengthen your message. A vision and strategy for CRM should start with defining what a valuable customer experience would be for your customers/market. For this you should consider the full life cycle of the customer.
This is also a required foundation for a good change management process (people, not tech change). You need good and easy to understand visions and stories that will make your project resources “see” what should be produced and especially make sure your end-users actually understands the reasoning behind and the value for them personally in the new system. Already from the start you should make sure you plan for producing more real-life good stories around the system, ensuring that the end-users themselves can experience a valuable change in their daily work life. Remember that a strategy is not complete until you have commitment for it in the organization and it is embodied in the daily life and activities of your organization.
You should of course use the goals and visions to guide your project in the right direction, but also remember that the implementation also should affect the strategy. There needs to be feedback both ways, you might find even more effective improvements on your way to realizing the vision, although you might change it a bit on the way (for the better).
Another important aspect is to align your vision with other groups and systems you need to ensure your own success. Do not let every dependency pin you down, but remember that to achieve true change and institutionalize your strategy your staff must experience a wholeness to the solution and strategy, one voice pulling in the same direction. For instance, it doesn’t matter if you change a process if you not also change the incentive model to match the new way of doing things or ensure that dependent systems can facilitate the new process in your CRM solution.
And remember, one common pitfall in change is to under-communicate. It’s very often that the project team and sponsors are so into the change and discuss it every day, but forget that this is not the case for everyone else. You need to communicate out often, repeat yourself, show what is happening and share often. In his article “Why transformation effort fails”, Kotter states 8 common pitfalls, where number three is lacking a vision and number 4 is under-communicating the vision.
According to Kendra and Taplin (2004) organizations needs to establish a shared set of values and beliefs (project management culture) that aligns with the technical and social aspects of project management in order to realize the business objectives. They emphasize both the macro and micro level around “social” and that this needs to be handled as well as the consequences of culture and value each member brings into the team.
Studies around which arenas your workers learns the most indicates that this could be in actual projects, rather than in standard trainings etc. A big CRM project will probably mean you will be going forward with the solution for quite some years and your internal (or at least accessible) knowledge of the solution will be key for maximizing return and reducing cost, risk and reactive work for years to come. So I guess what I’m trying to get at is that you need to learn from day one in the project and plan for this as a learning arena for maybe more than just the directly involved and obvious resources. Also, remember that learning should encompass several broad areas, such as pure technical, design and functional, integration and business processes. Especially integration issues and sub-optimal usage of functionality shows up as top issues in research concerning the success of CRM projects. 7)
My experience indicates the following assumption as well: An open and supportive culture focused on learning and improving will enhance quality delivered by the project, ensure a better fit to the actual business needs and reduce several risk elements. Of course, this needs to be balanced in order to ensure speed of delivery, with clear timelines and short-terms goals. And remember that focus on learning and improvement also includes being a allowed to make mistakes and then fix them together. Experience indicates that when allowing for mistakes, you will also achieve greater openness and transparency in the team, further reducing risk and then maybe even get more realistic time estimates.
Another issue we have seen a lot is a tendency towards trying to implement the “old ways” in a new solution, which can give both technical and strategic fit/support issues. Hence, diversity, new perspective and improvement focus is important, as well as ensuring that the project takes time to evaluate the big picture at regular intervals. For instance, optimizing call center processes separately, just the way you used to, might mean you miss out on value or optimization of other activities. In this example, the project would need to evaluate if for instance spending a little more time on a call, maybe even increasing the number of operators, would mean bigger savings on other activities in the organization.
In CRM projects we often early see longer discussions on what data should live within the actual CRM solution, which again leads to discussions on minimizing data duplication. This discussion should be turned upside down in order to avoid sub optimal decisions. You should start with the processes and goals of the CRM project, evaluating what data is needed to reside within CRM to achieve this and what data that just should be visible for CRM users (and when and where). This also means having a clear view of Why that data is needed, what value does it bring to usage scenarios.
The next step would then be to decide the ownership of data residing within CRM. In many cases, the data might be owned by other sources, but needed in CRM for reporting, processing etc. And yes, this would then mean data duplication, which I do not consider an issue if it brings business value. But there might be scenarios where ownership should be transferred to CRM or the CRM solution at least also should be a source for updating the given data.
A quite common scenario is Products. These area usually developed, maintained and configured in other systems. Still, you might want to have the product at least defined with names in CRM in order to have a an easy view of a customers portfolio or in order to link them to sales opportunities to maintain a sales pipeline. In insurance for instance, a products properties, like price, would probably not be defined in CRM. A common scenario would be to work on an opportunity in CRM and step into the appropriate solution to configure the product when a customer requests a quote or when you close the sale. The CRM client could then be used to give easy access to the correct application at necessary steps in the process (or just always). With this approach, CRM could be the one-stop work surface for all customer related roles, providing the right tools and hence data at the right time.
<the importance of dataflow modelling, knowing where your data goes, what updates what. Risk of corrupt data>
Ensuring adoption and handling the change process related to how your users now will work is essential to reducing time to return and maximizing return it self. I will not go into detail on all aspects of the needed change process, but remember that technology is maybe just 20% of a customer care project and a project like this is also a very good time to introduce needed changes and improvements in customer care processes, how you do sales and related business processes. This might be seen by someone as increasing complexity and hence risk of the project, but spending money and time on implementing a new system for the old ways is probably not a economically rational decision either. And, remember that rolling out a new solution, training users and then later changing processes and then tools again will represent another kind of complexity and risk as well.
There is a lot to read on change out there, my recommendation would be to ensure you have this skillset represented from the early start of the project and keeping the change process going after the system itself is done and rolled out. I certainly do not view them as a complete picture, but to get a few tips to start, have a look at Porters 8 rules. And think implementation and adoption from day one of the project, but give your users some credit, they are often capable of handling bigger changes than you think if you approach them the right way.
Motivation and hygiene factors according to Herzberg is also an important to aspect to have in the back of your mind when planning for the necessary change. The theory states that there is separate elements that mostly contributes to satisfaction vs dissatisfaction in a job: Satisfaction/Motivators: achievement, intrinsic interest in the work, responsibility, and advancement Hygiene factors: company policy and administrative practices, supervision, interpersonal relationships, working conditions, and salary
The hygiene factors contributes less to whether or not employees are satisfied, but they need to be in place in a good manner, else their absence will lead to dissatisfaction. The motivators however have impact directly on how satisfied and hence motivated for higher performance. A simplified view on your employees tasks related to this could be if they perform them because they want to or have to. This goes directly back to handling change; if your employees sees value for themselves in a (new) task, adoption and institutionalization becomes a whole lot more effective.
Quite often in projects I experience an attitude towards resistance that is negative or sometimes right out aggressive so to speak. This is quite often not the best way to handle peoples resistance from a change management perspective, but it can also have very negative impact on your risk and stakeholder management activities and in some cases directly on the quality of the end-result. My belief is that it’s important to handle the resistance in a good, open and honest manner with the approach of learning from it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop moving forward or change your plans or design all around, but maybe adjust some smaller parts or just your communication or value proposition for the end users. And yes, you will have to handle the less constructive resistance as well, which might feel less meaningful directly to spend your time on, but there is one result of this you do need: to make sure that the resistance doesn’t go underground and hence increase your risk massively.
Even if the defined goals of your CRM project is more internally aligned, like increase in cross/upsell, improve efficiency in service process or similar, remember that you will realize the effects through your workers with your customers. That means these to groups always should be in your mind when making decisions, designing the solution and related processes. To a certain degree, they are your manner of qualifying decisions on the way. I’m not saying all requirements/functionality should have positive impact on these group, there will be internal business benefits to realize, like reporting and data quality for instance, but if any of these have negative impact on the mentioned groups, you should revisit the need and at least make sure you handle the impact in a good manner. Communications, expectation settings and internal sales efforts is key, also towards your end-users.
One common pitfall in change management is also important to remember in CRM projects and that is to include and utilize the middle and lower management. These resources will not only provide good input on how things does work in real life in your business and how it could work, but they are very important to institutionalize changes and new process. And when handling them and winning them over to “your side” and your new vision, remember they will be very focused on what this means from a purely practical point of view in their personal work day. They are also your key resources to ensure you handle different audiences appropriately during the change process.
A committed sponsor, and the right one, is essential to pull through a CRM project. This is a quite well-used recommendation and phrase from project management and change management literature and teachings, but compared to quite a few other systems and projects, it’s really important regarding CRM. CRM projects are often broad, involving all parts of the organization at times CRM is closely linked to business processes and hence supporting capabilities CRM will change the work life for all involved parties (or at least it should) CRM projects are usually a means to an end for bigger business goals: increase sales/cross sales, upsell, improve customer satisfaction, reduce process costs, handle new markets etc
This means that CRM will actually be a topic on the internal political arena, touching and affecting several power bases and therefore you need someone to handle the political aspects and tactics of the projects to succeed. In addition, this might also mean more stakeholders, at least in company wide projects and this is often seen as an important factor in increasing project complexity.
From my experience, there is a couple of important topics that are quite often neglected early on in the project and then potentially never handled well later when project sign off.
You need to make sure you start out with having the complete overview of all components in the solution, both technical and soft. As you integrate and design your solution, make sure all these components are added as dependencies, with a clear view on their value, impact and risk. All these components needs to be handled in a total lifecycle management process for the system after your implementation project is finished. For more agile development approaches, these means after each new release. You need to make sure that design and business processes implementation decision and work is not disconnected from the technical implementation. All front-end design decisions will have impact and generate needs and task on the technical level.
The list is just meant as input for project planning and risk management. Several of the bullets are from personal experience in multiple projects in the Nordics, the rest is from a phd study listed in the literature slide. 7)
This paper does not aim at covering the topic of Omnichannel or how to implement this for an organization. However, a few thoughts on the topic is necessary. It’s quite common to focus on being in a lot of channels, being able to handle customers where they are and communicating in their preferred manner. As a customer I absolutely loves this myself, but it can turn into an issue as well, both internally and externally if not planned well.
If you start off with goals only aligned to achieve internal effects, you might get surprised and maybe underachieve on the goals. Always include the customer and make sure to understand their needs and patterns. For instance, I have seen on several occasions that companies expect call volumes to go down when the implement chat as well, as they believe it will replace phone calls from a lot of customers preferring chat instead. Although that seems logical, we have seen quite the opposite as well, which often turns out to be customers using chat for different purpose than phone. If you have different teams handling different channels, you could have both internal and external issues Internally this could be an issue if you do not understand the sales cycle of the customer and which sales originates where. Following your old metrics and reporting, chat and facebook would probably receive not credit for helping out generating sales, as the sale would be completed for instance in a self service web frontend or on the phone with a different team. This can result in channel conflicts internally and underestimating the value of your “newer” channels If the team for channel A only can handle a certain kind of requests and needs to redirect customers to other channels, you might have issues with customers experience. In general, they do not like to be told that “for this, you would need to call the bank during office hours. Your customers doesn’t only want to communicate in the manner they prefer, but finish the task they started and communicate also When it’s appropriate. This might not be as relevant for all industries, but if you operate in a highly competitive market with low transfer costs for the customer, you should probably look into this.
Thinking omnichannel instead of multichannel means putting the customer in the center, handling them the exact same way through all channels and being able to see all their interactions with your company. Including marketing campaigns etc. From a CRM projects point of view, this means looking at designing the solution for what customers often refer to as a 360 view of the customer. Make sure you surface the right interaction data at the right time for you’r customer contacts/advisors/sales personell.
A lot more to be said around this, however, this was just a short appendix on a topic usually relevant in CRM projects. It will most often include a lot of system, organizational and process change outside of CRM and the technical design.
Dynamics CRM - how to succeed
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Recommendations for success
Kristian Svantorp – Strategist / Architect
(Hidden slide when presenting)
This presentation does not seek to cover all project topics for managing a
CRM project, but outline the most important elements to ensure success and
what’s often lacking in my experience.
General «Project management best practices» should be applied as well of
All recommendations are based on experience from observing and/or
participating in CRM projects as well as change management literature and
research on relevant topics, references at the end.
<Make sure to read the speakers notes to get the full story>
The need for CRM
Marketing Sales Claims SMB Private
Should start as a consequence of a clear
That leads logically to the need for a
customer experience/relation specific
Which consists of different CRM projects
with a shared technical foundation to
operationalize the customer tactics
What do you want to do?
In order to make sure you move off
in the right direction
In order to sell your message
In order to execute well and stay on
For people to navigate well
themselves along the way
In order to on-board your supporters and
In order to align within your organization
In order to make ambassadors
In order for your solution to take on
its own life and form
Small wins focus
• Define which data should be in the CRM database
• Describe all relevant data sources and it’s CRM related use
• Describe what data is owned by which system
• Define the needed “freshness” of all sources
• Verify quality of all data
• Verify processes to maintain data accuracy
• Define which data should be shown in the CRM forms
• Describe why it should be there
• Which goals does it presence support?
• What's the related use case?
Your data is
success Insight into each of your customers is what could make you relevant and provide
the differentiating service. A CRM solution can help operationalize this
Use a «small wins» strategy
• Smaller, easy to understand pieces. A better cognitive match to people. Less political resistance
• Help the users experience progress subjectively in appropriate “chunks”, easier to adapt
• Easier to achieve the box above and CRM projects might mean big changes for people on how the job
Involve “everyone” in the project
• Or at least representatives from business groups, end-users on all levels
• Find out what they need, make them feel the have impact and really participates. Create ownership
• Create a understanding and acceptance of the need for change
Ensure you have a clear and positive impact on day to day work
• People need to experience for themselves that the change is to the better
• Build good stories and share them.
• Make and maintain ambassadors
Focus on covering customer and end-user needs
- A better experience for your users will also ensure better customer service
- Give your users a great feeling of mastering their job
- Focus on customer needs can help balance and align between interests of owners/board and end-
Include and utilize others
• Include HR in the process, define owners of the «change track». Focus on people change, not structural change
• The business side should own the project, lead and participate.
• CRM projects is not an IT-project, the end goal is not a technical solution
• Do not forget the middle management in the process
There is different types of resistance, not all is bad
• Handle all resistance fairly, investigate reasons and roots. Be open and discuss.
• Positive reasons of resistance, that can turned around: Strong ownership of the old ways, strong
opinions on the “how” part, loyalty
Elements to ensure
• Executive commitment. Balance top-down, bottom-up
• Manage risk and stakeholders
• Discuss openly and handle
• Integrate or replace other system
• Avoid heavy end-user switching between systems
• Define and communicate success criteria
• Define and use metrics
• Make a baseline and compare
• Do have technical QA in place
• Performance especially
• Configure rather than develop
• 80% rule
• Utilize Social tools in the project
• All information in one place
• Open discussions and “documented” decision
Cost cutting beyond
the breaking point
Control the cost of different aspects within the project, but
Do not, as a general rule, focus on cutting cost
CRM solutions becomes business critical systems and need to
yield a very good return
1) You might miss out on functionality that will bring good return
if you cut in a CRM project. Always evaluate cost-elements
impact before deciding
2) The consequences of the risks related to the project might
increase with a higher cost. But cost related to reduction of
(the probability of) risk-elements has proven worthwhile.
(tech / functional)
No risk impact C2 C
• Plan early for management and lifecycle of the solution
• Handle all components in the solution in your plan
• Specific management plans for key components as SQL. Direct impact on
performance and end-user experience
• Stability and performance is key to ensure adoption of CRM solutions
• Ensure all different systems and vendors SLA/OLA’s align perfectly
• Ensure that changes in functional design includes a technical
• For instance, column changes in a list might mean a need for new indexes in
the SQL server
• Functional design tends to be totally disconnected from deep technical
aspects like SQL in CRM projects/management processes
Remember, this is not an IT project. Customer handling and experience
is a strategy, not a product
Include business and end-user resources early
Do not try just to replicate todays situation, focus on improvement
This deck does not cover all aspects, you will also need at least
• Good project management
• Technical resources on CRM and SQL.
• Systems you integrate with
• Possibly Sharepoint, AD, IIS
• UI / Interaction designers
• Business process skills and optimization efforts
• Deep understanding of your business, customer base & market
1. Bolman, Lee G. and Deal, Terrence E. 2009. Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership. 4th edition. Jossey-Bass
2. Hennestad, Bjørn W. and Revang, Øyvind. 2006. Endringsledelse og Ledelsesendring. 2.utgave. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget
1. Norwegian book on Change Management. BI Business School
3. Kendra, Korin and Taplin, Laura J.. 2004. Project Success: A cultural framework
4. Porter, Michael E. 1996. 'What is Strategy?' Harvard Business Review
5. Grant, Robert M. 2012. Contemporary Strategy Analysis: Text and Cases. Wiley
6. Kvålshaugen, Ragnhild et al. 2006. Incremental learning in professional services firms: the importance of project and client characteristics
5. Yang Li, Sun Guohui, Martin J. Eppler. Making Strategy Work: A Literature Review on the Factors Influencing Strategy Implementation
6. M. Scott Schaffernoth. CRM System Not Producing? It’s Your Own Fault
7. Mariem Ben Abid. CRM Success: Toward an Exploratory Research
1. Survey results used before final phd thesis was finalized
8. Pivotal CRM - CRM: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE
9. Kimberly Collins, “How to Develop a CRM Strategy.” Gartner Research G00145702, 16 February 2007, p. 2
10.Gene Alvarez, “How to Create a Powerful CRM Vision.” Gartner Research G00146362, 1March 2007, p. 3
Technical / Functional
• It seems most organizations are only using
50-75% of the CRM solution functionality 7)
• Bad performance planning
• Technical issues with integration7)
• Low quality custom code (lack of CRM
• Data models and ownership of data.
Especially discussions around duplication
• Not planning for management and
maintenance of the solution from day 1
Organizational / Process
• It seems most CRM projects are delivered late
and above budget 7)
• Project manager without CRM experience,
wrong priority setting and choices
• Planning to much, doing to little, delivering to
slow. Loosing momentum with the people
and thereby poor adoption
• Not investing in training7)
• Not ensuring involvement7)