Which CRM? Wrong Question. Top 10 Critical Success Factors for CRM

If you are asking “which CRM is best”, you may be asking the wrong question. Choosing the right tool is important but in isolation, it is probably not the decision that is going to make or break your initiative. This blog gives you pointers as to the questions you should be seeking to answer before looking at choice of software.

If I was paid $1 every time I was asked “Which CRM should we choose” then I would not need to be checking the Lotto numbers each week!

The trouble is that a widely held perception is that you need the “best” CRM. Questions such as these are posed based on an assumption that the choice of CRM software will determine the success or failure of the business issue or opportunity it is being considered for.

But it’s not as simple as that. 

I’ve therefore compiled a list of things that I consider to be critical success factors that need consideration by any organisation thinking about CRM, let alone purchasing CRM software.

1. What is your “why”? You clearly think that CRM is an answer but to what? Have you carefully listed all the requirements you have? Have you broken these into Functional and Non Functional? Have you prioritised? Are these based on what you want to do or what you do today, or both?

2. Do you know what benefits you are seeking to achieve and, if so, how these will be measured and realised? What must the future state processes, people and technology deliver to realise each benefit?

3. Do you have Business and I.T support for any potential initiative? I have often found that one without the other goes nowhere. You need both parties fully engaged, collaborative and supportive with Executive buy-in and active participation (deeds as well as words)

4. Do you have a Budget? It is not just the software cost that should be considered but also the “services” required to implement and support the solution. These services should include internal and external (3rd party) costs.

5. What is the customer impact and perception? How will this positively lead to a greater customer experience which will drive retention and lead to customer advocacy? Have you engaged with people who know what a Customer Journey map is and can help create Persona’s?

6. What is the appetite for change? CRM is as much about a change in culture as a change in software. I recently worked with an organisation that could tick most of the previous 5 boxes but change fatigue was such an issue that it almost killed the CRM initiative.

7. What other changes will need to be made to accomodate CRM? New devices, Cloud provisioning, Reporting and Analytics, Integration platforms, Channels, Service Providers, Business Process Reengineering and IT Support are just a few off the cuff considerations that need to be thought through. There are many more.

8. Do you have internal resources who could commit time to both evaluate and then help implement CRM? Examples include Subject Matter Experts (SME’s), Architects, Business Analysts, Project Manager, Legal and Finance. They may or may not be required on a full time basis and certain roles can be outsourced but you will need to allow for commitment from several internal stakeholders over a project lifecycle.

9. How does this initiative align to the overall company strategy and are there competing “projects” that might mean the timing is less than ideal? I see many companies attempting too much at the same time and therefore achieving little. Corporate portfolio management is a necessary discipline.

10. Finally, yes, the choice of technology is a factor but software is just code. It is a tool. It needs to be made to work in the right way. For that reason, your choice of Technology Integrator will be just as critical as the software they help integrate and implement. Look for partners that can demonstrate that unique blend of understanding your business and demonstrating previous examples of well designed solutions and delivered outcomes that are referenceable.

Therefore, when someone next asks me “Which CRM do you recommend”, they will understand why I reply with ” Well, it depends….”. If you are in a position to proceed having worked through these things, then I believe you are well on the way to success and I look forward to hearing about it.

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