The Real Reason For CRM Implementation Failure

You can search the Internet and look at technology trade magazines and find list after list of why CRM (Customer Retention Management) implementations fail. To me, most of these “articles” are laundry lists from many “post mortem meetings”. A large company’s Sales Department decides that a CRM solution is needed to help increase sales, customer retention and track support calls. Different CRM vendors meet with the Company’s executive staff. CRM sales representatives explain why the business should choose their product. From my experience as a consultant for Amdocs ClarifyCRM, which is extremely customizable. The sales person informs the business that the software can be customized to accommodate any business requirements, such as billing, invoice generation, provisioning and even Human Resource utilities. Expectations have now been set. War on Terror” he stated “There are things we know we know, things we know we don’t know, things we don’t know we know and things we don’t know we don’t know.

The business and CRM world are the same so a change request process is put in place that can eventually stretch the project timeline and increase the cost to production. How are the changes managed? Changes to the system should be grouped based on priority, system module, and time. A recommended methodology to manage and organize changes is the SCRUM process. Within the scrum process a sprint is created which usually is no longer then 2 to 4 weeks from beginning through to production including development time. As I stated in the beginning most articles on CRM implementation failures are a laundry list from post mortem meetings. Items in bold are quoted. All CRM vendors have a basic or OOB system that will achieve many of the objectives of the company immediately. These objectives may be very basic, but offers the business, SMEs and users the opportunity to gain knowledge of the system and allow for business objectives to be defined more clearly based on experience. After using an OOB system critical objectives can be defined and allow pre-release assessments of these objectives. Using the SCRUM methodology the project team can measure the objectives urgency, cost and time to production.

Using the OOB system users will have a greater understanding of the CRM application. This understanding combined with the expertise of the particular business model and process, users can define critical, necessary, and precise metrics. By implementing the OOB system there are no customizations of the software during the early implementation process. Using the experience of the users to define key customizations and enhancements that are prioritized and implemented in a strategic manner using release management, offers the ability to monitor the amount of customizations and the affects on performance. Keep in mind that one system is not a do all, be all system. Utilizing the system in a test environment is a good idea. Most companies will test the system with sample test data from the real world. This is better then no testing at all. By placing the system in a production type role where users are performing their day-to-day functions will identify the holes or gaps and the work-a-rounds that may apply. Allowing the users to discover work-a-rounds provides user involvement and peer-to-peer training. One of the greatest incentives to users is involvement.

Utilizing the experience of the users and allowing them to generate ideas on system improvements will also generate excitement. In many cases a customized system is released and a complete training strategy must be developed and implemented. This can be a high increase in cost. By utilizing the OOB system, training is much easier. The CRM vendor offers training on the OOB system. As customizations and enhancements are added training is simpler for the company to provide. This gives each and every user a true foundation. Simply stated, the CRM application collects data and relates it. Data scrubbing and deduping should be a very high priority. Users want access to exact and accurate data, not the ability to search for possibilities. Dedicated data cleanup will insure user buy-in. When the OOB system is implemented users from all business operations will follow the basic process within the system. Users, understanding the current business workflow, can easily adapt to the basic workflow contained within the system. As users gain experience workflow processes may be documented and aligned then implemented into the CRM application. Scope creep is a huge culprit causing project timelines and budgets to increase creating a more complex system to develop and implement. By using an agile process with short design to production time frames scope creep and budgets can be more controlled. Your time to production is shortened. Changes are not discovered during the design, development or testing phases, but are discovered by users. These changes are more solution oriented for the users because they are documented based on usage of the OOB system. In all projects the (highly) customized CRM system becomes the base or foundation while in actuality the original OOB implementation should be the baseline and all changes and customizations should enhance the original functionality. Last update unknown. Author Unknown.

I got a lesson in this the hard way. As I was grappling to identify a mathematical formulation for the idea on which I was working. I had started with simple set theory formulations based on first order logic. Then, I came across a paper that had used Temporal Logic. I became fascinated with it and asked JC about it. He said that he had a very good book on Temporal Logic, which he, then, loaned to me. I spent the next 3 months trying to understand the book and then to implement my work using Temporal Logic. Instead of making my life easier, I found that Temporal Logic seemed to be making my expression more difficult. I went to JC again telling him that I think Temporal Logic will not work. But I quickly added: In the mean time, I have discovered another field, called category theory and morphisms. Then, I asked him should I try using this?