Many companies are now on their 2nd or 3rd generation of CRM systems and given the growth of the sector there are probably a lot of upgrades, strategic enhancements and even platform “hopping” going on. Whatever the reason for change, or even a late adoption of CRM, making an assessment of CRM “Readiness” is key for success. A checklist of CRM readiness could start with:-
- Has CRM been clearly articulated as a set of processes, people and technology. There is sometimes a perception that technology alone will deliver CRM benefits
- Cognisant of the above, has the initiative been clearly positioned as a change management programme?
- Have potential changes in operational roles been considered? CRM can have a significant impact on people’s job descriptions and personal objectives
- Are you ready, willing and able to change your business processes if they aren’t aligned with CRM objectives?
- Are you running with business processes that you know are sub optimal? Don’t expect CRM systems to improve these alone
- Are the desired relationships and interactions with external stakeholders clearly understood?
- Is there a knowledge of customer preferences and has this been audited? Insight can often exist in silos and needs to be teased out early
- Is current and future customer value largely understood? Failure to consider value can ultimately mean lost opportunities
- Is there a plan to engage with customers during the early stages of the CRM initiative? What might look like an attractive change in the business model internally might be less attractive to your customers
- What does success look like from a customer point of view in the short and long term?
- Has the programme been chunked up into phases? Research shows that CRM big bangs have a higher failure rate
- Have you assessed local CRM data sources including spreadsheets and less obviously email? CRM processes and data are often embedded in email interactions both inside organisations and obviously externally with customers
- Do clear definitions of customers exist? The analysis of say customer hierarchies will can have significant impact on the design and operation of CRM
- How relevant is existing information if it is incomplete or out of date? Planning to migrate seriously out of date or incomplete data can be a real time waster
It’s never too late to assess CRM readiness. Even if CRM is established but not delivering expected benefits undertaking a CRM assessment can provide insight into areas that need improvement. The one big take away from the checklist above is that just focusing on CRM software to the detriment of the other factors will probably not make that investment worthwhile.