CRM success relies on managing a project post-implementation

CRM managers need to monitor and steer a CRM project after the implementation to ensure success, according to Gartner.

Getting a CRM system installed and running isn't the end of a project, not by a long shot -- yet many organizations don't have an established plan in place post-implementation -- and CRM success relies on it.

CRM was haunted early on by well-publicized incidents of According to Kaila, companies that have the most CRM success assign a CRM manager to steer the project. Those responsibilities don't end with the completion of the project either; rather the managers continue to oversee CRM, conducting similar work to what they did during the implementation. In a recent research note, Kaila defines a CRM manager's role as falling into four categories: functional management, operational management, change management and strategic management.

Additionally, organizations may have more than one CRM manager and draw from the IT or business side of the organization depending on the company or the project.

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"They are usually experts from some process area with an idea of end-to-end business processes like quote-to-cash or hire-to-retire," Kaila said. "Depending on the scale of the program, some organizations will have multiple experts in a domain. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is for every 15 to 20 resources you've leveraged, you're looking at one to two subject matter experts for CRM. For some, a CRM program involves four people; for others it can involve 200 people."

In the functional management area, CRM managers should have visibility into all systems that interact with the CRM application and allow them to see how customers interact with the organization through various channels, business units or transactions. From the business side, this should be business process managers, and IT would involve a CRM technology manager.

Operationally, managers should monitor service-level agreements, maintenance and modifications to the application, how data comes into the software and how it effects applications that take information from the CRM system.

On the change management side, CRM managers must oversee enhancement requests and ideas for improving the customer experience and prioritize changes. Kaila advises organizations to create a template for change requests.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a CRM manager should align CRM stakeholders, such as sales, finance and marketing, so that all get benefits from the system. Where each group needs customization, the CRM manager should be responsible for assessing, coordinating and implementing that work. Additionally, the CRM manager should be responsible for calculating ROI.

The market is poised for growth according to ;Forrester CRM projections>. Part of that spending will be going toward consultants and systems integrators, but Kaila recommends organizations look inside when possible.

"The best practice is to promote from within," he said. "There are a lot of independent CRM practitioners and boutique firms, but CRM comes from within the organization. It is evolving. Good CRM, or rather effective CRM strategies, have to involve folks within the organization."

Gartner suggests establishing a center of excellence to not only launch CRM projects but stay involved afterwards and look for the right partners in the market for help.

"CRM is a core capability but in launching CRM programs, it's vital enterprises understand that a lot of the value and effort begins on the day following an implementation," Kaila said.

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