When it comes to CRM success, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are, however, some almost universal ways to fail. Trying to roll out the software to everyone in the firm all at once is one good way. Trying to get the lawyers to sit through point-and-click classroom training is another. Also good: trying to deploy every bell and whistle, feature and function during the initial rollout. These are some sure-fire ways to create frustration – and maybe even cause a minor mutiny among the key stakeholders. Ask any of the firms who have done these things – although they probably won’t have time to talk to you because they are in the middle of trying to roll out their system for the second or third time.
In reality, the most successful CRM implementations are achieved one small bite at a time. For instance, because CRM has so many different features, it can – and often should – be implemented differently for different groups. For one practice area, it might allow for tracking activities, for another, opportunities. One group might want to send out eAlerts while another may want to manage events. One practice might want to create an experts database while another wants to track referrals.
The great thing about CRM is that it can be many things to many users. But the most important thing is to understand that success is also defined by those users. This means you have to engage your end users early and often. But don’t expect them to tell you what they want the CRM to do. In most cases, they couldn’t… because they have no idea what it can do. Instead, you should inquire about their business needs and issues. What problems are they trying to solve? What processes are they trying to automate? What objectives do they want to achieve? It’s our job to think of all of the ways CRM can help. If we slice the apple this way, then there will be plenty of CRM success to go around.