DMA Politically Direct

February 2007

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Dave Rinaldi

I have concerns for the future of CRM. That's not to say that there won't be significant projects involving both technical and strategic solutions. Companies continue to make investment in these areas. Yet, I notice one significant factor, in particular, that may keep CRM from reaching its potential to build profitable customer relationships through efficient contact channels and programs...LACK OF ADEQUATE TIME & ATTENTION TO PLANNING...Many senior managers wants the benefits of CRM without making the full effort required for success. Their organizations choose not to make the necessary changes, such as forming a consensus on the overall vision, expectations and success criteria, recruting the right people, organizing revised team structures, evolving compensation plans, assuring responsiveness to the customer, and killing off "sacred cows" that stand in everyone's way. Instead, there's still a tendency in many organizations to proceed with some quick analytic and strategic solutions that will help to invigorate a CRM technology investment. How many times do you hear, "we need some quick wins out of the gate!" As I see it, without the right foundational investment in their CRM programs, these senior managers will likely achieve some success, but the gains will not be great enough for their companies to stay to course and make CRM a permanent part of their companies' strategies. Some "new" solution will come down the pike and many will gravitate in that direction, leaving CRM a useful mantra for its day, but well short of the potential strategic advantage we know it can become.

Despite these words, I remain bullish on CRM because I have seen what it can do for a company. Consequently, it is imperative for those of us involved with CRM, both marketers and suppliers, to make sure that the proper due diligence is applied to the overall CRM plan assuring that necessary foundational changes be made. We have to tirelessly demonstrate the benefits of doing the right things first so that no short cuts are made with the unstated excuse of "there's not enough time...we can't spend all of that attention."

Am I being too harsh?


Bart Foreman

I believe that CRM should not be driven by a software or technology solution. Too many companies cough up big bucks for software and then either don't get the analytics they want or find it too difficult to handle.

I do not believe anyone will deny the power of CRM. However, it has to be launched properly.

I believe the following:

1. There has to be a "Champion" and that champion has to get the CEO and C-Level team to agree that this is an important initiative.

2. The Champion must create a CRM task force spanning all departments to take ownership in the initiative. (Note, it is an initiative, not a project.)

3. The Champion should go outside the organization to bring in a third party firm with CRM experience to guide the process.

4. The Company should avoid the "it has to be invented here" syndrome and capitalize on the experience of those with a broader range of experience than what may be internally generated.

5. A development timeline should be established as part of the initial meetings so everyone knows what is expected. Managing expectations is critical to the project.

6. The Champion has to act like the champion and keep the process moving by taking small steps and staying flexible to manage changing conditions.

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