Perfecting Service Management

Issue #111

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CRM Article by Craig Bailey Published in BusinessWeek

Our current newsletter series on Addressing the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations was recently published in BusinessWeek magazine as an Expert Insights Special Report entitled "You've Bet on CRM: Now, Improve Your Odds for Success."

Newsletter devotees should be familiar with most of the information, but there is still some new content, so check it out!

CRM Implementations: Proficiency After 2 Days of Training?
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 topic of "Your CRM Initiative is now Live: What's Next?"

The over-arching topic being covered is CRM. However, we will cover concepts that can be applied to any initiative involving enterprise-wide software applications. In addition, the concepts provided should be addressed BEFORE you go live with your CRM solution to avoid post-launch scrambling and getting caught up in a reactionary / defensive mode. We will address this topic in two parts:

- The Production Nazi
- The Never-Ending Initiative

The Production Nazi

Your enterprise-wide CRM application is a mission critical component of your business. To be clear, you WILL experience application problems. The question is: how much impact will these problems cause to the business? To effectively manage your CRM application, you need to assign a "Production Nazi" (a more politically correct term would be CRM Manager). This needs to be a tenacious person who will perform a crucial role of ensuring that NOTHING affects the production environment which could ultimately cause negative impact to the business.

Key roles and responsibilities include:

1) Defining a support plan IN ADVANCE of going live.

This includes identifying all key contacts, including backup support and executive management, and their 24x7 contact information for when (not if) an outage occurs (refer to previous newsletter article Navigating the Organization). In addition, there should be a clearly defined change management process inclusive of a maintenance schedule for when planned maintenance can occur. And, the precedence must be set by senior management that NOTHING touches the production environment without the Production Nazi's approval. NOTHING!

2) Conduct daily and weekly production status meetings.

The daily meetings should cover critical issues (those impacting multiple users of the CRM system) that occurred and/or remain unresolved since the prior daily meeting. The objective is to ensure that the appropriate resources are assigned, current status is obtained, root-cause resolution occurs and that effective communication takes place to the business with regards to resolution of key issues. In addition, one of the agenda items for this meeting is reviewing planned or emergency maintenance that occurred since the last daily meeting, or that is scheduled to occur in the next several days. Finally, the daily meeting should be led by the Production Nazi who will ensure that the meeting lasts no more than 15 to 30 minutes MAX!

The weekly meetings should be focused on a review of trends. Trends related to system performance, nature, type and volume of help desk calls, inclusive of all issues impacting the system (critical and non-critical) to get a sense of whether or not you are making headway, treading water, or drowning. In addition, you want to identify any signals that indicate pre-emptive action is required to avoid hitting thresholds that would impact the business.

Finally, the above meetings include participants from internal (business, IT, help desk) and external (partners/vendor) organizations. It is suggested that the daily meeting REQUIRES (not an option) attendance from each functional area using the application (Sales, Service, etc.), IT as well as external parties. On the other hand, participants in the weekly meeting can vary depending on the areas of focus.

The Never-Ending Initiative

Undoubtedly, as you were developing and preparing to launch your CRM application, there were requirements (enhancement requests) that were generated which were not addressed in the initial version of the application. I hope that you set the expectation in advance that a CRM solution is never done! In addition to the previously mentioned enhancement requests, there will be other business drivers (changes in the sales process due to ongoing process tuning, sales strategy changes, mergers and acquisitions, etc.) which will require the application to be updated. These updates will range from simple table-driven parameter settings that can be performed by your data administration person/team to highly complex customizations that require application development resources. You MUST plan for this. If you don't, your CRM solution will become a limiting factor for your business.

In terms of expectations setting, another key reality is that there will ALWAYS be a growing list of enhancements and many will NEVER be addressed because they simply don't bubble up to the top of your list of business priorities. To support this, you need to form a CRM application steering committee. This entails the fewest number of people from the cross-functional organizations that leverage the application. Their role is, as a team, to review, in its entirety, the list of enhancements with the main objective of agreeing to a cross-functional set of priorities that the IS team can use to build release plans around.

In our experience, the best approach for defining release plans includes scheduling periodic "major" releases (with significant functionality changes) while performing point releases (minor enhancements) on an as-needed basis. Major releases may be scheduled quarterly (avoiding end-of-month / quarter timeframes) and contain significant enough functionality (and risk) that they are performed over a weekend. On the other hand, the scheduling of minor releases (low risk) can be much more flexible, but again, you'll want to avoid end-of-month/quarter so as not to disrupt the business should any issue materialize.

As you consider your "post-launch" support requirements, it is imperative that you have the appropriate support processes (and personnel) in place. Not doing so could cause your CRM initiative to unravel on you within 30 days of go-live!

This article completes our series on the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations. 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 program for success or provide objective insight on your existing initiative to ensure that you achieve the anticipated ROI.

Contents

+ CRM Implementations: Avoid Overly Aggressive Timelines
+ Recommended Reading
 


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