Bari Pollard

According to research, success in 68% of technology projects is “improbable”.

Internally, poor planning and management, lack of communication and executive sponsorship are all problems that can often cause a CRM implementation to go over budget, not be delivered on time or fail completely, due to inappropriate design or lack of adoption.

When an organisation decides to implement a CRM (Contact and Relationship Management), a lot of initial planning is needed on the client side, right from the design stage through to user adoption, in order to manage the change successfully. The project will impact on staff time throughout, as it often triggers an evaluation and refinement of performance metrics and processes, and requires time for user testing and learning during the roll-out phase. Ultimately the time has to be right for the organisation to embrace this change.
To successfully manage the process the organisation should firstly appoint a Project Manager who has the time, enthusiasm and knowledge to successfully take ownership of the project.

The role of the Project Manager is to:

Take time to understand the design process and technology to be adopted so they can understand and explain the functionality that is available, and gain buy-in from key stakeholders. Gather, document and prioritise user requirements.Manage communications and build good working relationships with internal staff and external consultants. Have the independent authority to manage people, budget and time and sign-off stages of work.
The Project Manager should also apply these three key elements, to give the CRM implementation the best chance of success:
  • Business Analysis
  • Change Management
  • Project Management.

The three actions for successful implementation are: 

Business Analysis 

Gather the detail on performance metrics and reporting requirements from your data. Involve users in reviewing and refining business processes, using the new digital tools to be deployed and through this process identify the positive benefits it will bring to personnel and the organisation to calculate return on investment. Future-proof the choice and design of system by sharing the business strategy organisation-wide, and discussing the wider potential application of the CRM to identify costs and suitability going forward.

Change Management 

Appoint an Executive Sponsor who is fully behind the purpose and application of the CRM, who provides an investment of time and money, and leads on communications about the ‘What, Why and When’, to give weight to the project. Create a strategy for communication, user involvement and support during the adoption process that accommodates for different team members personalities and learning types. Create a ‘Carrot and Stick’ adoption strategy to ensure the new system is adopted and used by all relevant team members.

Project Management 

Set up a Champion Group consisting of internal staff and external experts who have complementary skills and personalities, and are committed to the success of the project. Assign specific roles to each member. Assign your Project Manager to lead the Champions Group internally to organise, manage, sign-off and communicate requirements. They are accountable, and ensure deliverables get completed on time and within budget, by both internal and external team members. Work in an agile way, and identify and deliver an initial ‘quick-win’ implementation with one particular team or department, to generate confidence in the process and solution.

In Summary

Implementing a CRM is hard work even before you get system involved! However if you get it right then you will have a system that serves your needs now and also as you grow and develop in the future.

There are two well known quotes I like around CRM's

  1. The best CRM is the one you actually use. It might not be the best on the market but if you get your team using it then you have a successful CRM.

  2. Remember, nothing’s more difficult than simplifying things. We know this from experience, the more foolproof a system is the longer it takes to design in all the safeguards and, trust me, people will still manage to break it.


Good Luck!