Seven Critical Questions to Save your CRM Project
- What goals do we need CRM to achieve for us – in the next month or so and in the longer term?
- What challenges in the business will be solved by the CRM project?
- Where, within the overall scope of the project, are the ‘quick wins’ or the ‘low hanging fruit’?
- What skills do we require to get from where we are to where want to be - that we do not have? Unexpectedly missing skills can be caused either by significant scope changes or team members leaving the project.
- From where will be get the skills that we are lacking – from additional external people, or by upskilling internal people?
- How will we handle upcoming updates to our software?
- What are the risks to the project and how will we overcome them?
At any point in your CRM project, you, and most of the people on the project team, should be able to answer these seven critical questions. It is essential, if you are to have a successful project, that your technical team have an understanding of the reasons for the project, of how the solution, once delivered will benefit the business. It is also extremely beneficial for key business people to have a good grasp of the technology, and specifically, what it offers out of the box and some understanding of the potential and the limitations when tailoring it to your unique business. Both groups should understand the methodology of the project.
Why should people have this broader holistic view of the project
When you can achieve a single team, all working together towards well understood project outcomes, you are well on the way to project success.
It is tempting, commonly done, and often encouraged by vendors, to have a business team and a technical team working on your CRM implementation. However, this two discrete teams approach leads to siloed thinking, which in turn leads to breaks in communication – caused by each side struggling to understand the other. I would strongly recommend one team, within which some members will be stronger on the business skills and others will be stronger technically. But, they should function as one team, with communication involving the whole team, which will banish the silos. It will also encourage a level of ownership within the project, which in turn will facilitate answering the Seven Critical Questions. Allowing a devolution into two teams also encourages the blame game – where both sides blame the other for the issues.
Yes, you should play to the strengths of all team members. But silos that prevent communication do not play to strengths of the team, although they may play to vendors, who can then sell services to bridge the gaps – the gaps of their own making.
I have worked with teams where there is no technical skill in the business members and little understanding of the business drivers within the technical team members. This slows the project down, often quite significantly, partly because of the repetition needed to get key messages across. It also leads to aspects of the project being made ‘bigger than Ben Hur’ usually because of a lack of understanding of what is already available to you.
Another risk of having little business knowledge within the technical team is that they approach the project with a solution, and then invest time looking for a problem that they can solve – using their solution. This is rarely in your interest.
Once you have selected your technology, you have a technology with its functionality, and a business with is ways of working, people and data structures and usage.
To get the best, and most cost-effective, result in your CRM project, you should move the business and the technology towards each other. This means modifying your processes to more closely conform to the technology and modifying the technology to better support your data, processes and reporting requirements. Most of this can usually be done by configuration, rather than customisation. This is made significantly easier if both sides (business and technology) understand each other.
I like to call this the Move to the Middle Model
Moving to the middle allows you to get the best from both the technology in which you have invested, and your business processes, which gives you some quick wins from the project. It also encourages you to question those areas of your business which appear not to fit the technology.
- Why have you evolved business models or processes that are significantly different to the thousands of businesses following these standard processes?
- Do these atypical processes serve you, or would you be better moving towards the more standard approach supported by the technology?
Of course, seeing where your processes deviate from those supported natively by the technology, is far easier once you have a reasonable understanding of how the technology is designed to work.
People who question their progress and assess their business holistically, are the ones that survive. The organisations that recognise what works in their business and their CRM, then work on what doesn’t are the ones to survive and prosper in the long run.