IT in charge of CRM implementation?

This is the second of three posts related to the “Been there, done that” thinking of Customer Relationship Management.

Let me begin by saying I have the utmost respect for IT people!  If you have never lived in the IT world let me give you a quick glace at what they face on a regular basis:

  • Computers and computing systems have become business critical, so critical that many IT people are on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • Most upgrades and installations are scheduled for nights, weekends and holidays
  • IT is frequently blamed when things don’t go well or when a computer/system fails, and they are seldom praised when things work
  • Technology and software is changing at an alarming rate, and many IT people are expected to be experts on all software systems, the moment they come out

Why am I telling you this?  Because, even though your IT people work hard at keeping your systems up to date and functioning, they may not be the best people for driving customer-focused change within your organization. 

I am frequently asked “isn’t software selection and implementation the job of our IT department?”  The answer to that is no.  Your IT department should have input into the software selection process, but they should not be making the selection.  The selection needs to be made based on your company’s CRM needs, and should be made by someone that is customer facing and that will ultimately be using the software.  While you may have the best IT department in the United States, they are still IT, not sales, marketing or customer service.  They do not talk to the customer, and most likely do not understand Customer Relationship Management from your business-strategy point-of-view.

As far as implementation of software, it is task of IT to assist in the CRM software implementation, but I would not ask someone who is unfamiliar with a product to implement it.  The goal would be to have the consultant implement and train the IT in the support and maintenance of the CRM software.   The main role IT in the CRM implementation is to help with the data integration to other systems and to ensure the data integrity of the links between CRM and other systems.

Remember, implementation of software is just a small component of a CRM system implementation.  The other areas affected are your business culture and process. 

Luke Russell
Resolv, Inc.

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Do-it-yourself, or not?

In response to my last post, here is the explanation of the first reason for CRM failure … 



Often I am asked if a company can implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system on their own.  The answer is: Yes, but should you?

The number one reason for lack of success in a CRM implementation:  doing it yourself.  Why is this?  CRM consultants and vendors are experts in the field.  They understand what a CRM implementation will do to your sales force, your customers, and your processes.  A consultant has experience in what has worked in the past, and what hasn’t.  They can help you sidestep many mishaps that only come through experience.  CRM consultants can also advise you as to where to focus your money to achieve the greatest return on investment. 

Frequently internally implemented systems will begin without properly prioritized goals, or worse, they begin without any documented goals.  A consultant will insist on goals, and will attach a priority to each goal based on potential ROI, and how it affects the customer facing parts of your business.  Once goals are set, a consultant will review each and measure each from the customer perspective.  Internally implemented CRM usually puts process above customer experience, even though the “customer” is the cornerstone of CRM.

The process of goal setting, ROI tracking, and customer focus are all great reasons implement CRM with the help of a consultant; however, there is an even greater reason for not doing it yourself:  PRODUCTIVITY.  Not only do internally implemented CRM systems take more time (double or triple the amount of time to implement), companies that implement on their own notice a much sharper drop in productivity for a longer period of time.  This is illustrated in the following three charts.

The first chart is the ideal implementation.  You will notice on the chart that there is a company performance baseline.  This is an indication of the company’s performance before CRM implementation.  The goal is that after a CRM implementation performance should rise.


Don’t let yourself be fooled, the ideal never happens.   A CRM implementation does require you to refocus some of your employees’ energies for a period of time.  This refocusing usually causes a slight drop in performance.  The second chart is an example of what usually happens in a consultant implemented CRM.  There is a slight dip in performance for a short period of time, and then performance begins to rise.

Finally, the third chart is the most telling.  This is what performance looks like after an internally implemented CRM system.  The dip in performance is catastrophic.  Often the project is abandoned due to poor company performance.

While it may seem like doing it yourself will save you money, there are thousands of examples of the opposite.  You have probably experienced this in your personal life at some point.  Have you ever had a simple plumbing job that would have taken a plumber thirty minutes to do, and somehow you managed to devour an entire Saturday working on it?  The same is true with CRM.  You can fumble your way through it, and end up spending thousands more in wages and lost revenue than it would have ever taken to hire a consultant.

Rather than ask “can we do this ourselves?” you should ask “should I take my employee’s time and resources away from their main job to learn and implement CRM software?”  Let your employees do what they do best.  Focus on the customer.  Let an expert guide you through the process of CRM implementation.

After all, it’s your company! It’s your process! It’s your money! 

Luke Russell
Resolv, Inc.

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