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!
2 Days of Training?
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
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.
Implementations: Avoid Overly Aggressive Timelines
+ Recommended Reading
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Craig Bailey is travelling to Biloxi, Mississippi next week to build
houses for Katrina victims with Habitat for Humanity. Stay tuned for a
report of this fantastic and rewarding experience.
Want to get involved,
Click here to view the volunteer and donation opportunities available
along the Gulf Coast.
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