The decision to invest in a CRM software solution is often made with great thought and consideration toward how the new system will affect current operations. From outside consultations to internal executive meetings, discussion occurs on how to best utilize the new tool to optimize the current business environment—and whether that entails a complete overhaul of existing legacy systems or simply integrating the software into existing and proven processes, the dialogue is still a necessary component of a successful (and seamless) technology project.
In partnership with CustomerThink, a global online community of business leaders, Forrester recently ran a survey that explored exactly what makes a CRM implementation successful. Is it investing in the right hardware and software? Or rather, is it improving employee training initiatives to make sure everyone is up to speed on how to use the new solution? Turns out, it’s both: The process of adapting to the new business environment afforded by a CRM solution is known as change management, and the success of each new project hinges on how well this process incorporates both technology, as well as the people and processes that center around it.
Making the Change: The Pillars of a Successful CRM Technology Project
The survey, which interviewed 414 business professionals involved in a CRM technology project in a sales, marketing, customer service, or technology management capacity within the past 36 months, found that of the myriad considerations involved in introducing a new CRM technology project, the basics can be boiled down to four main pillars, including:
Employees are your company’s greatest asset, and ensuring they’re educated on the ins and outs of your new solution is critical to long-term project sustainability. The survey found that nearly two-fifths (38 percent) of respondents stated that their CRM integration issues were due to people issues such as slow user adoption, inadequate attention to training and change management, and a misalignment between new operations and the current organizational culture.
Introducing a major new operational component such as a CRM solution affects the way your company does business—from how employees communicate with each other and outside clients, to how they store and access data, track projects, and more. To this end, it’s important to clearly define the new business requirements and create a defined process design, allowing everyone time to get on board, especially if there are software customizations that have to be created to meet unique organizational requirements. Not paying enough attention to these types of process details accounted for one-third (33 percent) of issues encountered by business professionals in the Forrester survey.
Similar to ensuring all processes are in place to maximize CRM functionality, a clear-cut strategy must also be established to minimize downtime and ensure performance while change management is taking place. According to the Forrester survey, one-third (33 percent) of business professionals found that issues around strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, a lack of organizational readiness, and insufficient governance, were the root cause of their integration difficulties.
A critical component of each CRM change management project, the specific technology chosen must be carefully considered to meet company objectives and employee functionality requirements. In fact, a little over one-third of survey respondents (35 percent) cited technology issues as their chief integration roadblock, running into complications such as data issues, functional setbacks and shortfalls, technology unmatched to employee capability, and poor usability.
Sustainable and Profitable: Investing in Long-Term Project Performance
Ensuring the success of a CRM technology project (and the change management process that accompanies it) requires that senior leadership take steps as early as possible to make the transition smooth, setting the tone for a rewarding and pain-free integration. However, once the solution is in place, the work to optimize the business environment should be maintained, as Forrester cites that organizations often underestimate the time it will take to redefine work roles and realign structural processes. To this end, including CRM end users in the selection process, listening to their goals and productivity pain points, and acting on their feedback is essential. After all, the project is more than just the sum of its technology parts—it’s the people and processes that give it function, purpose, and power.
Leggett, Kate, “CRM Success Requires Focus On People, Not Only Technology,” February 18, 2016, http://blogs.forrester.com/kate_leggett/16-02-18-crm_success_requires_focus_on_people_not_only_technology.