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Bill Band: Nearly half of all CRM deployment issues relate to people

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22nd Sep 2013
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Nearly half of all problems with CRM projects are the result of people issues, according to new research from Forrester and CustomerThink.

The survey of over 600 people working on CRM projects showed that 42% encounter issues such as slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organizational culture with new ways of working.

In the third part of his blog series on best practices for CRM success, analyst Bill Band explains that more specifically, the top challenges to implementing a CRM solution include cultural resistance to adopting new ways of working (45%), difficulties in achieving user adoption (44%), insufficient planning and attention given to change management (42%), and inadequate leadership (38%).

And this means a significant obstacle to CRM success, given Band’s advices that deployment requires a balanced and multifaceted approach that addresses four critical fundamentals: process, people, strategy, and technology.

So how can businesses ensure that they avoid these people problems when implementing their CRM solution? Band lists some advice:

  • Use continuous improvement to soften culture shock. Successful CRM requires that an organization learn and accept new business processes and supporting technologies, which is never easy. As a manager of IT quality at a public sector company put it, “Our greatest difficulty was changing the culture of our users.” Use quick wins to gain support for the new CRM system and continuous improvement to keep interest high.
  • Overcome adoption issues by letting users influence functionality. New CRM processes and technologies that do not have a clear benefit for users and that are not properly socialized will not be adopted. A CRM architect at a media, entertainment, and leisure firm told us that “end user adoption is always difficult, especially with our sales team.” Enterprises should ensure that users have opportunities to influence application functionality and enhancements.
  • Plan carefully to facilitate changes in management and employee behaviors. The tone for a customer-centric culture, and the need to adopt new processes and tools to serve customers more effectively, is set by the top executives of an organization. Employees look at the behaviors of the senior leadership team to determine which activities are valued and which aren’t. As the CRM manager of a business services company told us, “Our greatest problem was lack of buy-in from management.”

“Traditionally, IT organizations have existed to support internal operations but in today’s world, the technology leaders must play a key role when it comes to delivering solutions that support better external customer experiences. With business partners in need of help, it’s up to technology leaders to help identify and deliver solutions that will give their companies a competitive edge,” he said. 

Once businesses have gotten past these obstacles to successfully deploy their CRM solution, they must also ensure that their initiative is accountable to help businesses understand exactly what they’re getting in return for their money, said Band in a previous blog post. 

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