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CRM project management: From the IT perspective

As principal of a CRM consulting company � The Sweeney Group, Paul Sweeney brings first-hand knowledge to CRM project management and implementation. He visited recently with to discuss issues surrounding the IT portion of CRM project management.

Carol Parenzan Smalley, Site Editor, Paul, as editor of, I often receive questions from our registered users about project management. Would you be interested in answering a few of them here for us today?

Paul Sweeney: Professionals in the CRM arena are forging new territories. I would be delighted to share some of the lessons I have learned working in this area with your users.

Smalley: When evaluating vendors' solutions, how should CRM IT managers differentiate the good from the bad?

Sweeney: You should evaluate a vendor's offering against a formal requirements list. This will quickly tell you how well the vendor product matches your needs. Next, you need to understand your soft requirements � such as the vendor's financial viability, position in the marketplace, product history, client-base, etc. Lastly, check the vendor's reference � possibly conducting a site visit.

Smalley: And what if those references sound too good to be true?

Sweeney: If you feel you are receiving unsatisfactory references, here are some suggestions:

Conduct a vendor/client site visit.

Search the Web for a message board dedicated to the vendor's product and read the latest postings.

Talk to the vendor's competitors (and their customers) and do some snooping.

Attend a related trade show and talk to the tradeshow participants about the product.

Smalley: I hear often from our users of on-going battles internally with respect to who should be managing CRM projects. Should it be IT or some non-technical manager?

Sweeney: IT should manage the technical pieces � including technical infrastructure, technical support, hardware and software configuration, system enhancements and bug fixes. To the extent possible, (probably working closely with IT), the business should manage gathering user requirements and documentation, vendor evaluation and selection, system administration (adding/deleting new users, updating list box values, writing/running reports, etc.), process design and integration and training and documentation.

Smalley: Where does a company begin to evaluate its current IT system to determine if it can support its current and future CRM plans?

Sweeney: Begin by compiling a requirements list by function (sales, service, marketing, finance, executive management, etc.). Prioritize these requirements and then perform a gap analysis between the requirements and the current IT system. This should get you well on the way to understanding how well your current system supports your needs.

Paul Sweeney will be joining the registered users of for a Live Expert Q&A session on Wednesday, September 20, 2000, at 12 noon (Eastern) to discuss CRM management and planning issues from the IT perspective. He will answer more questions from registered users at that time.

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