Winning the CRM War

by David Whiteside, Director, Client Growth & Success and Chris Fritsch, President & Client Success Consultant

There is an old military adage that goes, “No battle plan can withstand the first confrontation with the enemy.” This references the fact that war is often unpredictable, and no amount of planning can account for all possible outcomes. And yet, to even have a chance of winning, planning is critical.

To try to account for this vast uncertainty, the military uses war games. War games allow military leaders to test the myriad possible outcomes that may result based on different factors inherent in a battle. This type of scenario-based strategy has proved to be so effective that it has also become popular on the battlefields of business to allow corporate leaders to predict the possible outcomes of their mission-critical decisions. So we wonder, could principles from war game methodology help improve CRM outcomes?

Inherent Conflicts of Law Firm CRM Implementation

We are not saying, of course, that deploying a CRM is a battle, although it may feel that way sometimes. We also don’t mean to suggest that your CRM users are the “enemy.” In fact, it’s better to make them your allies.

But CRM implementations do often involve some inherent conflicts, and war gaming might just be an effective strategy for successfully navigating the CRM minefields. Additionally, to successfully select and implement a CRM system, you certainly need to be adequately prepared and war gaming could assist in this preparation.

One problem that war gaming can help to defeat is the “single outcome bias” where only one set of assumptions or risks is considered rather than exploring all possible “what-if” scenarios. Some examples of these CRM scenarios may include:

  • We assume our attorneys will participate and share data. But what if they don’t?
  • We assume all firm leaders will be on board. But what if they aren’t?
  • We assume that data will be good. But what if it’s not? (because it never is)

Unfortunately, we have seen quite a few new CRM recruits forced to retreat during a CRM implementation for failing to account for these alternative possibilities. War-gaming principles might be able to help these loyal CRM soldiers regroup and continue a successful forward deployment.

CRM Strategy: Contingency Plans

To plan for these possible battles using war gaming principles, you need to take the time to think through a number of possible scenarios and both the positive and negative outcomes that could result. Then formulate contingency plans to deal with both the best-case and worst-case scenarios.

While you may initially think that openly addressing negative outcomes might actually hinder you from getting approval or support for a CRM project, in fact, the opposite is often true, especially in a law firm. Lawyers are naturally risk-averse and trained to find fault, so a project pitch that seems too good to be true will often invoke their inherent skepticism. Instead, if you provide them with both positive and negative information, it often enhances your credibility.

It’s important to note that while it may seem that developing a war game CRM strategy may take extra time and effort, in the long run, it’s worth the investment because if you lose a critical CRM battle, you will also lose ground during your implementation. But if you are properly prepared, even if there are setbacks, you can regroup to fight another day.

Call for CRM Reinforcements

War-gaming CRM deployment scenarios, while important, can also be challenging – especially if you have never rolled out a system before. But never fear, help is on the way. If you need help drawing up your battle plans, just call for reinforcements. There are a number of experienced resources you can muster. You can call on fellow comrades-in-arms at other firms who may have weathered CRM battles before. You can also call seasoned CRM consultants to the front lines. Often these experienced veterans have seen their share of CRM battles and are happy to provide support and help plant the flag of CRM victory.

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