Local CRM for Local People

MyCustomer.com
7

With the UK Government deadlines for getting 100 per cent of all public services on line by 2006, it's somewhat disheartening to realise that to date only 50 out of 314 local authorities polled by the Society of IT Managers has actually put a CRM system in place.

The complexity of the software is one reason cited for this slow takeup. There's also the whole question of return on investment, difficult enough to predict in the private sector, but even more so in the transparency that surrounds the public sector. Frankly opportunistic vendors who talk airily of the benefits of so called Citizen Relationship Management need to put some more credible examples of ROI studies into the marketing mix.

The emergence therefore of a user led consortium of local authorities to drive CRM standards and uptake in local government is only to be welcomed. Having the input of those on the front line can only help to make the rollout of CRM across the entire country a more attractive possiblity for councils. All too often in local government circles in the UK there has been a 'not invented here' mindset that has somehow assumed that the particular needs of their local authority are in some way unique. This has simply led to a constant and unncessary reinvention of the proverbial wheel.

So I certainly welcome the National CRM programme which has been set up by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to encourage councils to use the software to become more customer friendly. It's a shame it's falling under the remit of the bumbling John Prescott - I tend to assume that the government isn't about to give any responsibility that really matters to it to that already, shall we say overstretched, individual! - but it's a clear move in the right direction.

And it does have the advantage of being led from the front by Tower Hamlets, whose CRM implementation looks like a text book example of how to do it. With the Tower Hamlet team rallying other local authorities, there is a good chance that the progress of the programme will be in the right direction.

Now it's up to the vendors casting their rapacious eyes over all those lucrative public sector contracts - yes, that's you I'm talking about Siebel, Oracle and Microsoft! - to prove their commitment by getting right behind the National Programme. It's early days, but I note the supportive statements made so far. Let's just make sure they translate into deliverables.

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By admin
21st Jul 2003 19:21

Here are the facts that you are currently missing in order implement the first 2 years of a local government CRM project
1. Size of project: small little back office systems, (you know the kind of thing you used to knock up in a weekend in front of a monochrome screen and a box of corn flakes)
2. People: 15 to 20 people constantly working on this project, mostly contractors
3. Time: well, lets see - 30 man years (and rising), thank you very much
4. Cost: Ooh, £6m
5. Deliverables: main project will not yet be live, let's have a wild guess, of about 2 years late
6. Live Environment: The system, for argument's sake let's say siebel, will inexplicably fall over every single day, despite the best efforts of all the experts!
7. Stability: the slightest change, often none at all will bring everything coming down around your ears
8. Bespoke Code?: you will strangely find yourself writing thousands of bits of the stuff
9. Bespoking Environment: what bespoking environment? - oh that, well, at least they had the afterthought
10. Reusability: 'files', 'screens' will all be wonderfully overloaded
11. Inheritance: nope, why do you want that anyway when you can just copy stuff
12. Developer Morale: who cares, I mean, what's so special about that selfish bunch of prima donnas who think they should actually be enjoying their work
13. Deveoper Learning Curve: humungous, I thnk you may be in for a bit of a wait
14. Server components: you guessed it, will fall over at all times, even when they're up
15. Off the Shelf functionality: will all have to be rewritten using 'scripts' so that users can actually use the system without having to work their way through the generic (or shall we say multi-layered) 'labyrinth of screens' that lay like landmines in all directions
16: User Happiness: generally, appalled, but feel helpless - also feel sad to see their 'working' systems go
17. Functionality: kiss goodbye to that stuff you used to call 'business rules' and embrace a more simple vision of your business; only a fool would go in for 12 rounds with siebel!
18. Speed of use: 8 to 12 times as many mouse clicks to perform task as user was used to
...and so on
...and again
CONCLUSION
ON PAPER: "Wow, let's have it now!!!"
IN REALITY: "I'm sure there was a reason why we bought it - oh well, we'll give ourselves another award, convince everyone else they need it, make a mint out of the tax payer and retire to the Bahamas"

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By admin
03rd Jul 2003 14:41

I was at the National E Gov projects launch for my client http://www.TheLocalChannel.co.uk , and spoke to the stand team for egov crm. Inevitably the talk was of technology: I hope it doesn't stay that way. E Gov crm has the potential to channel the morass of government digital info to citizens so that we can all find the useful & relevant stuff. It's too early to say for sure that egov crm's focus will stay on technology, but a worrying number of people on that stand didn't know the first thing about crm.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
21st Jul 2003 19:21

Here are the facts that you are currently missing in order implement the first 2 years of a local government CRM project
1. Size of project: small little back office systems, (you know the kind of thing you used to knock up in a weekend in front of a monochrome screen and a box of corn flakes)
2. People: 15 to 20 people constantly working on this project, mostly contractors
3. Time: well, lets see - 30 man years (and rising), thank you very much
4. Cost: Ooh, £6m
5. Deliverables: main project will not yet be live, let's have a wild guess, of about 2 years late
6. Live Environment: The system, for argument's sake let's say siebel, will inexplicably fall over every single day, despite the best efforts of all the experts!
7. Stability: the slightest change, often none at all will bring everything coming down around your ears
8. Bespoke Code?: you will strangely find yourself writing thousands of bits of the stuff
9. Bespoking Environment: what bespoking environment? - oh that, well, at least they had the afterthought
10. Reusability: 'files', 'screens' will all be wonderfully overloaded
11. Inheritance: nope, why do you want that anyway when you can just copy stuff
12. Developer Morale: who cares, I mean, what's so special about that selfish bunch of prima donnas who think they should actually be enjoying their work
13. Deveoper Learning Curve: humungous, I thnk you may be in for a bit of a wait
14. Server components: you guessed it, will fall over at all times, even when they're up
15. Off the Shelf functionality: will all have to be rewritten using 'scripts' so that users can actually use the system without having to work their way through the generic (or shall we say multi-layered) 'labyrinth of screens' that lay like landmines in all directions
16: User Happiness: generally, appalled, but feel helpless - also feel sad to see their 'working' systems go
17. Functionality: kiss goodbye to that stuff you used to call 'business rules' and embrace a more simple vision of your business; only a fool would go in for 12 rounds with siebel!
18. Speed of use: 8 to 12 times as many mouse clicks to perform task as user was used to
...and so on
...and again
CONCLUSION
ON PAPER: "Wow, let's have it now!!!"
IN REALITY: "I'm sure there was a reason why we bought it - oh well, we'll give ourselves another award, convince everyone else they need it, make a mint out of the tax payer and retire to the Bahamas"

Thanks (0)
avatar
10th Jul 2003 11:00

I read Wendy's comments with a personal interest, having been involved in a large (no, huge!) change programme to introduce Citizen Relationship Management (CitRM)at one of HM Govt's agencies a while back.

Whilst she is certainly right that technology is not enough, I don't think it is enough to rely upon a CitRM vision, balanced CitRM capabilities development and good change management either. These are all the hallmarks of CitRM for its own sake. The sort of programmes that have never really created value for any of their stakeholders.

The fundamental problem in CitRM is a variation on the agency problem in commercial CRM. Namely, that the absolute worst spending combination is someone else, spending a second-party's money, on behalf of a distant third-party. The someone else is senior civil servants (who are often not that citizen focussed beyond the lip-service level), the second party are hard-pressed tax payers who have no say in how their taxes are spent, the distant third-party are under-served citizens (ditto).

The result is often huge amounts of money squandered on mind-blowingly complex, 'monumental' projects that never really work as intended.

Perhaps part of the answer is developing a proxy for 'value added' that can be used to identify where the most value is to be had out of investments in CitRM.

Just as Customer Value Management (CVM) is a hot new item in commercial CRM, the challenges that underlie CVM - knowing where value lies (by which I mean value for citizens as well as value for the Treasury), knowing what capabilities you need to develop to release it and a step-by-step approach to harvesting it - are basically the same as those that underlie successful CitRM.

This is certainly a challenge, but I think it is a challenge that is worth rising to.

It is high time that CitRM projects started to focus on delivering conspicious value to all stakeholders, rather than just suffering from conspicuous cost overruns and embarrassing questions raised in the House of Commons.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant

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avatar
10th Jul 2003 11:00

I read Wendy's comments with a personal interest, having been involved in a large (no, huge!) change programme to introduce Citizen Relationship Management (CitRM)at one of HM Govt's agencies a while back.

Whilst she is certainly right that technology is not enough, I don't think it is enough to rely upon a CitRM vision, balanced CitRM capabilities development and good change management either. These are all the hallmarks of CitRM for its own sake. The sort of programmes that have never really created value for any of their stakeholders.

The fundamental problem in CitRM is a variation on the agency problem in commercial CRM. Namely, that the absolute worst spending combination is someone else, spending a second-party's money, on behalf of a distant third-party. The someone else is senior civil servants (who are often not that citizen focussed beyond the lip-service level), the second party are hard-pressed tax payers who have no say in how their taxes are spent, the distant third-party are under-served citizens (ditto).

The result is often huge amounts of money squandered on mind-blowingly complex, 'monumental' projects that never really work as intended.

Perhaps part of the answer is developing a proxy for 'value added' that can be used to identify where the most value is to be had out of investments in CitRM.

Just as Customer Value Management (CVM) is a hot new item in commercial CRM, the challenges that underlie CVM - knowing where value lies (by which I mean value for citizens as well as value for the Treasury), knowing what capabilities you need to develop to release it and a step-by-step approach to harvesting it - are basically the same as those that underlie successful CitRM.

This is certainly a challenge, but I think it is a challenge that is worth rising to.

It is high time that CitRM projects started to focus on delivering conspicious value to all stakeholders, rather than just suffering from conspicuous cost overruns and embarrassing questions raised in the House of Commons.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant

Thanks (0)
avatar
03rd Jul 2003 16:43

Richard and Will,

The key role for CRM is to ensure that the huge effort to modernize public service delivery is customer- rather than technology-led; that investment in CRM will (1) build a sensing and responding capability and (2) deliver better services at lower cost. But to play this part, CRM needs to capture the hearts and minds of public sector officers and members.

Having researched this area for almost two years, Hewson Group believe that the biggest barrier to the uptake and adoption of CRM in the U.K. public sector is that there is no actionable and useful vision of what CRM means in the public sector.

Indeed, the need to assist councils to articulate a CRM vision that leverages IT, is actionable and will deliver hard benefits has been recognised by the ODPM and by the National CRM project.

Isn’t it interesting to note that the Manchester Business School research for the National CRM project has highlighted three barriers to the adoption and use of CRM by local councils:

• A roadmap to show what the CRM vision is and how it will be achieved
• A robust business case which is credible and affordable
• How to achieve change and organisational transformation

The fact that the National Project has identified these needs at this early stage is good news and means that Will’s concern – that the project will be excessively focussed on the technology – whilst perceptive is hopefully unfounded.

But let's think about the vision problem for a minute. Most private sector definitions of CRM, whether external - such as winning, keeping and growing the right customers - or internal - such as a 360 degree view of the customer or multi-channel access and delivery - lack real persuasiveness even for commercial companies let alone not-for-profits.

We think we have the first cut at such a useful and actionable vision for CRM in the public sector: that of "free spectacles for all". One lens enables front-line staff to see what matters to customers, the other to see what matters to their boss or organisation (the perspective of economic-quality). 'Good CRM ' would mean that all staff in all agencies at all levels were wearing the spectacles, keeping them clean and acting on what they saw.


Wendy Hewson
Editor ‘CRM in The Public Sector’
www.hewson.co.uk

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avatar
By admin
03rd Jul 2003 14:41

I was at the National E Gov projects launch for my client http://www.TheLocalChannel.co.uk , and spoke to the stand team for egov crm. Inevitably the talk was of technology: I hope it doesn't stay that way. E Gov crm has the potential to channel the morass of government digital info to citizens so that we can all find the useful & relevant stuff. It's too early to say for sure that egov crm's focus will stay on technology, but a worrying number of people on that stand didn't know the first thing about crm.

Thanks (0)