You’ve probably heard the horror stories about unsuccessful customer relationship management (CRM) projects, but do you know why they failed? In many instances, it’s due to one very preventable factor. Here is a tale of two companies and their very different CRM project results.
First, the similarities in the two cases: Both companies worked with a qualified Microsoft Dynamics® CRM (now Dynamics 365) partner on a CRM upgrade project. Both had a dedicated CRM project manager and agreed to the scope, deliverables, and deadlines for the project. However, one difference affected the outcome of the two projects.
The difference was not the complexity of their systems or the competence of the Microsoft partner or even the budget available.
The deciding factor was the number of people on the internal project teams.
The successful company had three people involved in the CRM upgrade project; the company that ran into difficulty had 22 people involved.
The successful company was able to schedule regular calls and meetings with its CRM project manager. The team discussed options, made decisions, and kept the project on track, on deadline, and on budget. The project was successfully implemented.
The company with more than 20 employees involved found it nearly impossible to schedule regular calls and meetings. Those who could make the meetings wasted time trying to inform those who couldn’t. With so many people asking questions and everyone’s opinion needing to be heard, not to mention hidden agendas and last-minute “wish lists,” chaos ensued and very little was accomplished. Needless to say, deadlines were missed, expectations were not met, and the entire project was an expensive failure.
Well, that’s the sad tale. But what can we learn from it?
Success requires an experienced leader.
An experienced CRM project manager would have known that this scenario was a recipe for disaster and would have stopped it before the project failed.
Good project managers don’t manage projects from just a logistics standpoint; they also need to manage people and expectations, and often that requires some backbone. The employees are not implementation specialists, so they shouldn’t run the show. The project manger should be able to make clear the downside to too many cooks in the kitchen. When necessary, he or she should step in to say something like, “You need to identify two or three stakeholders so decisions can be made. You need to meet and nominate who is going to be in charge on your side, and then we can move forward. That's the only way that this is going to work. Trust me.”
A good CRM project manager needs to govern the project – that is the project manager’s value; that is how he or she contributes to the success of the project.
Of course, even good CRM project managers can’t single-handedly achieve success. Someone in the company must make decisions based on the needs of the business and be able to convey those decisions to the project manager. Ideally, the company will name an internal project manager who will serve as a point of contact. This will allow stakeholder discussions to take place outside of regularly scheduled calls and meetings with the CRM project manager. The point of contact can come to the table and pass along distilled feedback from other stakeholders. And, most importantly, that point of contact should be empowered by management to make decisions.
At Crowe Horwath LLP, we have a CRM project methodology that has proved successful.
We require our customers to have an internal project team. This is not always popular, but we know it produces the best results.
If you are ready to start a CRM project, work with a company that will tell you honestly what needs to be done to make your project a success.
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