CRM Briefing for Richmond Group

Monday 16th November 2009

David Jefferson, Principal in JI Management Consultants (JI-MC) gave a CRM update presentation to management consultants in Richmond Group in their last meeting. (Richmond Group is the foremost association of independent management consultants in the UK)

He highlighted a concern in the industry that there was a very low level of satisfaction with CRM reported in a number of surveys of directors whose organisations had invested in CRM systems. No more than 25% were willing to say that their organisation had been pleased with the return on investment following a CRM project. David had become interested in exploring this issue further in the late 1990's when the 25% figure was first published (white paper at www.ji-mc.co.uk). He re-opened the question earlier this year when the current success rate was announced to be 25%. He posed the question; how can an industry fail to learn, fail to improve, indeed fail to deliver on such a scale and still have market analysts forecasting huge planned investments in CRM, indeed a very buoyant market? David posed 3 questions: 1. Is the failure rate really as high as is claimed? 2. Are the surveyed respondents involved in the failures to the point where they are not independent (or objective)? 3. Is there an implied opportunity for independent management consultants to become part of the implementation process?

The presentation contained research and hear-say evidence from many companies, directors (speaking off the record) and projects. It suggested that failures which were claimed to be down to system/software faults were not as prevalent as the statistics glibly suggest. He noted that when a major software supplier had blamed users for the failures there had been a very strong denial from many individuals and a strong blaming reaction against software vendors and software packages.

David asserts that failure on such a large scale cannot but be partly attributable to bad management. There is some evidence to suggest that a lack of assiduous change management may be at the heart of the issue. There may be some organisations that chose a package that was wrong for their type of business. Implementers of CRM systems may not be offering change management and human factors as part of the CRM project package. Perhaps they just do not have the resources or the skills.

Customers certainly expect the CRM implementers to do whatever is necessary and do not generally accept culpability in these failures in any public forum. Have they delegated too much to the implementation team (internal, external, third party CRM supplier), making it an IT project? Is there a critical lack of senior management leadership? In his presentation David suggested that independent management consultants acting for the implementing company (but not against the CRM implementer/supplier) might help companies to discover the leadership gap and engage in the critical measures that underpin success. David said there was tremendous scope for this and emphasised that this is not a technical consulting role; rather one of business development, customer insight, mentoring, and sympathetic change management designed to help people working at the customer interface, whether, Sales, Marketing, customer Service , or other.

There was also discussion about diagnostic tools/models as used by JI Management Consultants, change management methods, business development metrics and customer engagement initiatives.

 

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