our last newsletter, we continued the series on Addressing the Realities
of (Sales) CRM Implementations. Prior articles covered the following
This article covers the challenges of the CRM technology itself.
Proven Technology – Really?
Let's face it. We live in a world of highly flexible, sophisticated
technologies with the promise of dramatic improvements in productivity.
CRM is no different. However, what is often not realized early on
in a CRM initiative is that there are many moving (technological)
parts. That is, CRM is not just about a single system. It is typically
implemented within an enterprise architecture that includes Enterprise
Resource Planning (ERP), Billing, Data Warehouse and other systems. And,
there will likely need to be some level of interfacing with these systems.
There may also be interfaces with an email/calendar system (e.g., MS
Outlook), handheld device (e.g., Palm Treo or BlackBerry), etc. Finally,
throw into the mix the fact that your CRM solution may be hosted by a 3rd
party while other systems are managed by your internal IT organization.
Another key challenge is CRM reporting. Getting the reports you need in a
timely manner is critical to the success of a CRM implementation. Consider
carefully the tools and resources available to tackle reporting.
If your company is like most, you have existing reporting tools, including
a data warehouse. That said, most CRM vendors offer their own "integrated"
reporting tools. Before making what seems to be an "easy decision" to go
with your CRM vendor's "integrated solution" for CRM-related reporting,
find out exactly what "integrated" means. In our experience,
"integrated" means "very tough to customize." What the vendor promises as
out of the box reporting capabilities are generic templates that will
not meet your reporting requirements if you have done even minor
tweaks or customizations to your CRM application (adding data fields that
are important to your firm, etc.). While it may be fairly simple to add
those fields to the online CRM application, you then need to port these
fields over to the reporting mechanism and map them to the appropriate
views. This can be more difficult than meets the eye.
Resources are another important consideration in selecting a reporting
tool. As with any new application, you need to determine if there are
resources in the market-place (the CRM vendor, your systems integrator or
individuals whom you might hire) who have the requisite skills to help you
initially setup the CRM vendor's reporting application and subsequently
develop reports. Our experience is that, for even the premier CRM
solution, there are significant challenges to leveraging the
"integrated" reporting package. While it can be done, you should take a
hard look at your existing reporting tools (for which you have internal
competencies) and determine how you might further leverage these vs.
attempting to bring on a new reporting tool and taking on the inherent
challenges that go with it.
While each vendor or organization may be able to emphatically claim that
its technology or solution is "time proven," the challenge is getting all
the moving parts to work together. To be clear, it is realistic to assume
that you can bring all these moving parts together for an integrated
solution. However, it is likely that you will spend far more time and
money than originally anticipated to do so. Consider this in your planning
and budgeting exercise to avoid missed expectations about what can be done
by when and at what cost.
In future editions we will cover the remaining topics of this series
Avoiding Overly Aggressive Timelines
Proficiency After 2 Days of Training?
Your Sales CRM is Live: What's Next?
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.
Implementations: Technology Challenges
+ Recommended Reading
If you have received this newsletter from a friend
and would like to subscribe:
here to subscribe
View previous newsletters
For additional considerations for CRM implementation, read NewsFactor's
CRM Daily article
Planning for Growth with Scalable CRM by Elizabeth Millard. Ms.
Millard stresses the need to think ahead and map out growth plans for your
company, from the top down (or bottom up), to be able to implement a
flexible CRM system that can grow with you.
Happy New Year!
Centricity wishes everyone a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2007!
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
See What Our Customers Say