Lack of Long Term Strategy

There is an overwhelming number of variables that can cause a CRM initiative to fail. In order for an organisation to successfully implement a CRM system, they must first take steps to map out as many of these variables as they can, in an attempt to mitigate the associated risks, and give themselves the best possible chance to achieve maximum ROI as quickly as possible. These variables include;

  • The organisations resistance to change
  • A lack of employee buy in
  • A lack of management CRM experience
  • Integration issues
  • An organisation not illustrating the benefits to all stakeholders properly

Obviously there are far more variables than this, and these variable can vary from organisation to organisation. However, these are a few of the main factors that can throw a spanner in the works when implementing CRM. The issue that this article will focus on is, how a lack of long term strategy can cause major issues for organisations considering CRM.

Implications for Business

Businesses are often startled due to a lack of long term strategy to align their operations with the CRM. It’s impossible to accurately predict the future performance of your business, as there is an almost infinite number of economic, political and social uncertainties that surround most businesses today, and they are constantly changing. New technologies can make or break entire industries, and CRM systems are driven by these new technologies. A correctly planned, implemented and maintained CRM system can provide businesses with the tools to facilitate business changes and advances in technology. However, companies considering a CRM solution need to recognise the fact that a CRM system is not a business solution in itself. Saur (1993) made the point that, more often than not, a system will fail because of its users as opposed to the system itself. The common notion that CRM is a technology solution is still a significant stumbling block for far too many firms. A possible reason for this is that many companies view CRM as a tactic as opposed to a strategy. In an article by the CRM is defined as…

“The ongoing process of identifying and creating new value with individual customers, and sharing the benefits over a lifetime association. It involves the understanding and managing of ongoing collaboration between suppliers and selected customers for mutual value creation and sharing.”

This definition concurs with the view that CRM implementation is a strategic decision as opposed to a tactical one. Effective implementation of CRM has to be approached in the same way as a business process change, which is supported by technology. Many organisations continue to look to CRM as a business remedy in itself. One of the main reasons an organisation would consider CRM implementation is to become more consumer-centric. Customer centricity is most definitely not something that happens overnight. Companies need to formulate a process or strategy for collaborative innovation and customer inclusion, in order to drill down to the areas where customer perceive value and constantly adapt their offering.

CRM Implementation

The most logical solutions to the strategy issue surrounding CRM implementation is for the organisation to take steps to fully understand their CRM requirements before adopting it. For an organisation considering a new CRM system or updating an old one, an effective way to fully understand the challenge at hand, would be to have members of the CRM implementation team spend time working on the front line, to get as vivid a picture as possible as to how the proposed CRM system could benefit the end users in terms of; productivity, ease of use, stress reduction and the user’s ability to zero in on the needs of the individual customer, and act accordingly in a timely manner. This will in turn help the organisation formulate long term strategies as well as streamline the CRM implementation process, as they will be able to accurately illustrate their specific business requirements to the team tasked with the development and customisation of their system.