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CRM management planning: Key to success

Best-selling author Dick Lee was part of the CRM movement long before it was termed CRM. Lee has been a leading voice in relationship management. He is the principal of High-Yield Marketing, a consulting firm, and the author of several books � The Sales Automation Survival Guide, The Customer Relationship Management Survival Guide, The Customer Relationship Management Planning Guide, and The Customer Relationship Management Deployment Guide (October, 2000).

At the latest DCI CRM show in New York City, Lee had a moment to share his thoughts with the registered users of, a site that targets IT professionals involved in the CRM movement.

"CRM doesn't work when approached as a technology," explains Lee. "In fact, 70 percent of stand-alone CRM technology implementations crash and burn. And, for a very simple reason � they're not carrying out a business strategy. Without business strategies to support, CRM is reduced to improving operating efficiencies for whatever work processes we already have in place. In other words � automating cow paths."

Lee further expanded upon his thoughts about CRM. A part of that interview follows.

Carol Parenzan Smalley, Site Editor, How do your views about CRM differ from others in the industry?

Lee: I regard CRM as a business philosophy and set of corporate values.

Smalley: What role does technology play in the big CRM picture then?

Lee: CRM is supported, not driven, by CRM technology.

Smalley: Here at the DCI CRM show, there are as many different definitions of CRM as there are speakers. What is your definition?

Lee: CRM is a four-step transition to become more customer-centric. In a well-planned CRM initiative, companies:

Develop customer-centric business strategies;

Redesign departmental roles and responsibilities in order to carry out new strategies;

Re-engineer work processes to reflect new roles and responsibilities; and

Support new work processes with CRM technology.

Smalley: Given the rate of (un)success, who should sit on a CRM planning committee?

Lee: That varies by organization, but almost always sales, service, marketing, IT, finance (billing, order entry). You also need a "neutral" team leader and a strong executive sponsor.

Smalley: Once a company is ready to roll out its CRM initiative, what should it expect?

Lee: What a company should anticipate depends on what it has done (or hasn't done) before rolling out the technology. If all the company did is re-engineer work processes and buy software, expect very little, except for frustration over lack of accomplishment. If the company did it right and started by formulating new business strategies and changing department roles and responsibilities as a result, you should still expect substantial resistance to change.

Dick Lee will be joining the registered users of for a Live Expert Q&A session on Friday, September 15, 2000, at 12 noon (Eastern) to discuss CRM management and planning issues.

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