Is Your CRM Not Working For You?

Kate Leggett
Vice President, Principal Analyst
August 1, 2014

I get a lot of inquiries which go something like this: “we implemented a CRM solution from Vendor X, and it doesn’t work. Nobody is using it, and when they are forced to use it, it is slowing them down instead of making their life easier.  Are there solutions from Vendor Y or Z that would do a better job for us?”

My answer goes something like this: "CRM solutions are mature. Most vendor solutions are chock full of features and functions – probably more than you would ever need. Your CRM is not supporting your needs, perhaps, because:

  1. You don't have crisp definitions of your processes, the stages within processes, and the exit criteria to move to the next stage (ex. what are your criteria to promote a lead to an opportunity? Are they the same for all business units?)
  2. You have implemented your CRM without doing any customization or configuration. As a result, your organizational processes are not well supported in your CRM
  3. You have not paid attention to your data quality. Users don't trust the data that they use.
  4. You haven't spent the time to integrate other systems to your CRM, so you cannot empower your customer facing personnel with all the information they need from your CRM. It's not helping them get their job done easier or faster.
  5. You don't have the right reports available to your end users to allow them to measure their performance.
  6. You haven't focused on usability or the user experience. The UI is probably not role based, or tailored to what your users need, and you haven’t thought though the actual data elements that are important to your users at the various stages of your processes.

…..Sound familiar?

Our research at Forrester backs up my generic answer to this question. In a survey, in partnership with CustomerThink of 650 business professionals and IT leaders who had been involved in a CRM technology project last year we found that:

  • Nearly half of survey respondents had faced problems grounded in poor or insufficient definition of business requirements, inadequate business process designs, and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements.
  • More than two-fifths said that their problems were the result of people 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.
  • Two-fifths had challenges related to their CRM strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, poor solution deployment practices, and insufficient solution governance practices.

What does this all mean? Choosing your CRM solution is an important step. But it is not enough to ensure success with your CRM project. You must pay attention to your CRM strategy, processes, and people factors to ensure success. You must take the time to understand how you will use your CRM to generate business value, and spend the time to ensure a perfect fit into your organization. You just can't shoehorn a vendor solution without configuration, customization or integration into your operations, and think that it is going to work.

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