Perfecting Service Management

Issue #107

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

CRM Implementations: The Importance of Senior Executive Sponsorship  By Craig Bailey

In our last newsletter, we continued the series on Addressing the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations. Prior articles covered the following topics:

This article covers the importance of Senior Executive Sponsorship of your CRM initiative.

We have worked with firms whose CRM initiatives were a "do-it-yourself" project as well as those who invested in the premier systems integrator and the premier CRM solution. Regardless of the approach, we have observed that a key success factor is Senior Executive Sponsorship from the business. Executive Sponsorship requires, at a minimum, 1-2 senior executives who have a key stake in the overall business results and the most to gain (or lose) based upon the outcome of the CRM initiative.

Said another way, the CRM initiative is not an IS/IT project. While IS/IT is a key enabler, the project is not owned by IS/IT. The business areas (Sales, Marketing and Service) are responsible for justifying the project based upon the anticipated ROI. Once the project is underway, the business (senior management down to individual contributors) must remain fully engaged.

So, what is involved in Executive Sponsorship?

  • Being the overall corporate champion and cheerleader for the initiative.
  • Working with the team to help put things into perspective vs. joining in on the "feeding frenzies" when (not if) issues arise.
  • Acting as overall corporate messenger, continuously espousing the value of the project to the organization, especially to those directly impacted (see prior article on "CRM Value Statements").
  • Consistently participating in project steering committee meetings, demonstrating commitment to the team and providing ongoing guidance and timely input to project challenges and opportunities.
  • Consistently participating in executive briefings (in the boardroom) when project updates are provided. This is crucial because there will be a period of "buyer's remorse" when the investments have been underway for some time and the anticipated ROI has not yet materialized. It is the Executive Sponsor who needs to answer the CEO's question: "Why are we doing this?" If there isn't anyone from the business standing up or pounding a fist on the table in response to this question (reiterating the why), then the project is destined to fail.

In summary, investing in the premier CRM solution and the premier systems integrator does NOT guarantee success. Without the level of Executive Sponsorship outlined above, you are throwing your money away on CRM. If your CRM initiative is valuable enough to receive funding, then it is certainly a worthwhile measure to secure ongoing Executive Sponsorship to ensure program success!

In future editions we will cover the remaining topics of this series including:

  • Proven Technology Really?
  • Key (Controllable) Items Impacting Adoption
  • Proficiency After 2 days of Training?

In closing, if you are embarking on a CRM initiative, or are in the middle of a CRM program that doesn't seem to have the traction you'd like to see, give us a call. We'd be happy to assist you in framing up your initial project for success as well as provide objective insight on your existing initiative to ensure that you achieve the anticipated ROI.

As a reminder, our whitepaper Avoiding The Common Pitfalls of CRM is available for download from our website. Finally, if you are looking for a CRM implementation primer, consider the following book: CRM Automation by Barton J. Goldenberg.

Contents

+ CRM Implementations: The Importance of Executive Sponsorship
+ Recommended Reading
 


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Recommended Reading
Recognizing the importance of learning from the past, Ziff Davis' Baseline reviewed 230 of its case studies to compile Top 10 Lessons for I.T. Project Success. As an extra bonus, follow the link to 10 Project Pitfalls You Can Avoid.

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