How Your CRM Project Can Fail

Setting and sticking to business goals and engaging end users are among the ways to help your CRM implementation succeed.

Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary

July 25, 2018

5 Min Read

CRM software is a vital part of business success for customer-facing companies thanks to the many advantages it can impart. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools help companies efficiently manage their interactions with customers while delivering an array of ancillary tools that can improve internal operations. This includes tools that can be integrated with existing applications such as calendars, scheduling apps, and VoIP platforms.

Even so, CRM packages are not an end-all solution to the problem of managing customer relations. After all, CRM is an application that can be used, but not one that is required for staffers to deal with customers. Many companies misunderstand this concept, growing overly reliant on their platform or expecting too much from it. In these cases, it’s unlikely to accomplish its intended purpose for a company irrespective of the CRM suite’s expense or reputation. Before selecting a CRM service, it’s vital to consider why CRM implementations fall short to avoid meeting the same fate.

A lack of focus

CRM suites offer a comprehensive and expansive solution for customer relations, but they can’t handle every single problem or fix every issue a company might encounter. When some companies install a popular CRM platform, such as Hubspot’s CRM or Salesforce, and the initial implementation is handled poorly, problems can occur.

A major issue that commonly results in CRM failures is an absence of clear objectives from the outset. At their best, these platforms can help companies achieve specific goals and align with an organization’s strategies and vision. This scenario aids both companies and employees by streamlining their activities while providing better, more actionable insights relating to their customers. On the other hand, a disorganized approach to implementation can spark problems right after initiation.

Understanding long-term goals helps organizations design their CRMs more effectively, all while laying the groundwork for deployment, education, and maintenance. Entering the design process without a clear motivation can lead to bloated implementations, features that don’t match goals, and insights that don’t provide value.

Expanding scope creep

Even when companies have a successful implementation, it can be tempting to continue adding objectives and making minor tweaks. Focused CRM applications are invaluable tools for any organization that must deal with customers. It simplifies communications at the initial point of contact, improves lead tracking from the funnel all the way through the conversion stage, and can supply actionable insights based on data collected.

When features are deployed with a narrow focus, they function seamlessly and can result in improved operations, workflows, and revenues. However, this success may spur a desire to see what else a CRM package is capable of, possibly prompting the emergence of associated problems. Scope creep — the way a project’s scope will slowly expand and grow unfocused — can throw a wrench into the best designed CRMs.

The problem isn’t the addition of tasks, but rather the way scope creep adds layers of analysis and management, leading to reduced efficiency and analysis paralysis. By maintaining a narrow focus on the project’s scope and ensuring any changes are completely critical, scope creep can be entirely avoided.

Absence of user adoption

In the end, an imperative attribute of any successful technology-based solution introduction for business depends on the users who must interact with it daily. When planning a new CRM deployment and implementation, the most important aspect of the project to consider is the stakeholders who will be responsible for utilizing these platforms. When companies disregard users, they experience a significantly harder time driving adoption.

Users who are unable to ascertain the value of a new system are unlikely to make the switch from the legacy tools they’re most familiar with and comfortable employing. This can become an endemic problem and lead to costly failures to adopt, or it can force a cancellation of the entire project simply because it is overlooked. Similarly, ignoring stakeholders at the beginning may lead to a system that doesn’t solve their pain points. In this case, the adverse scenario can be measurably worse, especially if organizations invest precious capital in systems that don’t work.

Focusing on user adoption first makes planning and design easier as it forces developers and project managers to carefully consider why they are building out a CRM suite and its structure. Instead of adding features simply because they might appear useful, understanding stakeholders’ needs and pain points helps reduce bloat and emphasizes the specific feature set a platform requires to deliver maximum value to its end-users.

Failure is not a given

There are major hurdles to consider when designing a CRM solution, but they are not insurmountable. Most importantly, these challenges tend to occur in the initial stages, and can be easily resolved by deferring the instant gratification a new tool may offer in favor of carefully building a solution that can enhance an organization. An unsuitable CRM implementation can drain resources, whether human capital, time, or money. By comparison, a properly implemented CRM rollout that carefully considers all stakeholders and purposes can prove an unbeatable asset in terms of supporting the entire scope of sales, service, and customer relations activities.

Ralph Tkatchuk is a data security consultant and an IT guy with 15 years of field experience working with clients of various sizes and in different verticals. He is all about helping companies and individuals safeguard their data against malicious online abuse and fraud. His current specialty is in ecommerce data protection and prevention, with a keen interest in AI and machine learning. He runs TK Data Sec, a data security and IT consultancy.

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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary

The InformationWeek community brings together IT practitioners and industry experts with IT advice, education, and opinions. We strive to highlight technology executives and subject matter experts and use their knowledge and experiences to help our audience of IT professionals in a meaningful way. We publish Guest Commentaries from IT practitioners, industry analysts, technology evangelists, and researchers in the field. We are focusing on four main topics: cloud computing; DevOps; data and analytics; and IT leadership and career development. We aim to offer objective, practical advice to our audience on those topics from people who have deep experience in these topics and know the ropes. Guest Commentaries must be vendor neutral. We don't publish articles that promote the writer's company or product.

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