6 Steps to putting the “Management” back into CRM

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MS Dynamics CRM Project Managers can be forgiven the tendency to get buried in the weeds of their projects.  Inundated with deadlines, dependencies, risks, issues, budget constraints, technical challenges, change requests, vacation schedules and status reports for multiple projects at one time can submerge the most resilient of us. Writing this blog is a retreat from the revolving task list and an opportunity to look up and out beyond my project schedules.

I remind myself that CRM is best defined as a business strategy that aims to improve the quality of each customer interaction and the profitability of each customer relationship.  CRM technology is just one resource that an organization can apply to support this business strategy.    The efficient implementation of that technology is not the end goal. Rather, the goal is to apply the technology so that it enables  organizations to target, acquire, support, retain and develop their customers in a more meaningful and profitable way. And CRM Project Managers can and should play a significant role in helping clients do this.

So On Time, On Budget, On Scope isn’t enough.  What can CRM Project Managers do in this broader capacity?

  1. We can start with reviewing clients’ Sales and Marketing Plans.  This gives us immediate insight into your sales and marketing priorities, challenges, opportunities, sales channels, competitive positioning, and growth goals.  It will tell us who you sell to, how you are going to sell to them and what your sales goals are over time.  Understanding your Sales and Marketing plan will “help us help you” as we implement CRM technology in your organization.
  2. If you do not have a current Sales and Marketing Plan then we, along with other consultants at BDO, can and should work with you to develop one.   A strong argument can be made that a CRM IT project should never begin before an organization has a current Sales and Marketing plan in place.  Otherwise we could just be helping you do the wrong things faster.
  3. We can ensure your “Customer Success” goals are clearly understood and communicated to all CRM IT project team members (yours and ours) as part of the CRM Project Charter and Kick Off Meetings.  Customer Success Goals are the CRM IT goals that relate directly to the improvements in your CRM processes and the relationship you have with your prospects and customers.   These are different than Project Goals such as Go Live by January 1, 2015; 100% User Adoption.  Customer Success goals are goals related to new client acquisition, client retention, revenue per client, profitability per client, customer satisfaction or market share.
  4. If Customer Success goals are not in place before a CRM project is initiated, we can help you define them. They should fall directly from your Sales & Marketing Plan.  Current benchmarks and ways of measurement are also important.  Some goals, such as top line revenue, are easy to measure.  Others such as client retention, average revenue per customer, website stickiness, and marketing campaign effectiveness are less easily available before we start a CRM IT project but become possible to measure once CRM IT is implemented.
  5. We must also examine other resources in place to support your Customer Success goals.  Is the IT implementation the only change you plan to make?  Are you implementing new marketing or sales channels? Are there new training programs being put in place?  Or are you putting all your eggs into one big IT basket?
  6. Finally, critical to our mutual success is to repeatedly remind ourselves (me, the Project Manager;   you, our client; and the entire CRM IT project team) of the Sales & Marketing priorities and the Customer Success goals that were put forward at the beginning of the project. Why are we doing this in the first place? What are the wins that your organization plans to achieve through the implementation of this CRM IT technology? Given the budget and schedule we have in front of us (oh yes it always comes back to that) are we focusing in the right areas of the IT project to achieve these goals?

And then we hope the answer is yes so we can get back into the weeds and our project schedules for a while.

Cathy Brown is a Senior Manager with BDO Solutions CRM practice.

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