CRM projects can fail for a number of reasons. Indeed our recent research showed that more than half of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK have changed customer relationship management (CRM) supplier, and the main reason for changing supplier was a poor fit in terms of the business requirements. Failure can occur for a number of reasons. Here are a few of the most common reasons:
- Poor objectives and poorly defined CRM strategy: If a business does not know what they are trying to achieve and what outcomes they are looking for, it is no surprise that the CRM solution doesn’t “fit”. Businesses need to have clearly defined objectives before they start looking for vendors. If businesses do not have a map for how they want to get to where they want to go and no way of measuring the success of the solution, the project is doomed to fail. Putting time into clarifying objectives and having a clearly defined strategy is paramount.
- Scope creep: It’s one thing “buying a CRM system”, but it’s another when your needs and requirements change along the way. It’s very difficult to deliver a system that has changed beyond all recognition to the one that was sold in the first place. Having a clearly defined set of requirements at the start enables the vendor to fit the CRM solution to your needs.
- User adoption: Winning hearts and minds can be the trickiest element of a CRM implementation project. People – on the whole – do not like change. They are comfortable with the status quo, happy with how things are – why go through the turmoil of adapting a new system? Even if the CRM chosen is very slick, if the people who are supposed to be using the solution haven’t bought into the idea of it, it isn’t going to work.
- A missing senior champion: If the executive team haven’t bought into the CRM system, the reasons for implementing it and what the business is trying to achieve, the CRM project is almost certainly destined for failure. Employees will identify with the senior team and buy into their vision – so if the CRM project is not part of that vision, it will be difficult to mobilise the troops. Furthermore if there isn’t a project team to manage and support the implementation, ideally drawn from a mix of managers and users, each with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and led by a senior sponsor, CRM projects will not always “fit” or be adopted.
- Unsuitable vendor: Badly implemented solutions can cause headaches for years and they often occur because the wrong vendor was selected in the first place. Before changing CRM vendor, businesses need to understand why the vendor they originally selected turned out to be unsuitable – the attributes that worked and those that didn’t. It’s important to choose a vendor that has had experience of working with similar businesses, that they listen and understand the requirements, and are flexible. There is no “one size fits all”. If the CRM solution and vendor aren’t ticking these boxes, that should act as a warning signal.
The reason a CRM system fails may be down to one or some of these reasons. It’s important to get to the bottom of why, as this knowledge will be invaluable when switching to a new system. CRM has the capability of being central to a business but needs to be carefully planned and implemented.