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The phased implementation approach should be structured to provide specific milestones for the project team, show early success to stakeholders and illustrate project momentum to the user communities. Challenges and lessons learned in earlier phases can be worked through and benefit subsequent phases.

Over many years, we've discovered the reasons why phased implementation approaches are generally less risky and more rewarding. In a phased approach, the organization generally first focuses on the ‘need to have' business requirements and limits the implementation to a controlled number of organizational units. Once initial success is achieved, the production system is upgraded to include more complex or ‘nice to have' functions and features and is expanded to include additional organizational units.

The Real World of CRM

The norm:

Customer data resides in multiple silo systems and is not timely and/or easily accessible by the people that can use it.
Sales is generally the most elusive and undocumented division or department in the company. This adds difficulty to already difficult objectives such as revenue growth, increased sales conversion rates, market share or customer share growth, profitability, competitive advantage and customer satisfaction and retention. We must recognize that most sales representatives do would they are paid to do, not what they are asked to do.

Setting clear expectations with the project team and user communities up front will lessen disillusionment later. A few of the critical expectations are listed below:

  • CRM defined: CRM is a business strategy aimed at understanding and anticipating the needs of an organization's current and potential customers.
  • CRM is a continuous process and journey, not an event.
  • CRM is not bottom-up, it is top-down.
  • CRM is not software. CRM is a Business Process, Enabled By Software. Better customer service is not a software system; it's a business process. CRM is not a software system; it's a business process, enabled by a software system. It is critical for our clients to understand that our system will enable them and provide them the tool to better serve their customers, improve their sales conversion rates and many more strategic objectives, however, our system must be complimented with executive and management directive to actually utilize the centralized system (and prohibit shadow systems or standalone systems), insist upon corporate-wide customer information sharing and achieve other organization-specific processes which achieve the business process goals.
  • Planning is a prerequisite. Alternatively: "The nicest thing about NOT planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise and is not preceded by a period of fear and depression."

 

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