Two Key CRM Problems – Adoption and Expectations

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After a decade of development, CRM deployments are still problematic for many companies, as recent surveys show. Two main areas of concern are employee adoption of new deployments, and also large disparities between what executives expect and what the system actually delivers.


Additionally, sales consultancy CSO Insights finds installation problems, with forty-one percent of implementations going over budget. The main reasons for budget overruns center around management failure to plan for user training and post-install support. This melds with the adoption rates being lower than expected. CSO explains:


”’I’m sure we could pick out companies whose numbers are well above average, and I think we would find those companies have had CRM [programs] for some time,’ Trailer said. ‘But I would suspect the difference is not their CRM[technology] but their management. CRM isn’t what makes the difference; people embracing the tools makes the difference.’” See CRM software fails sales


This is a world of trouble that we rarely even glimpse at Dovetail Software, fortunately. Since our chief focus is upgrading the Amdocs Clarify legacy install by augmenting and ultimately replacing the Clarify applications with our own applications, we supply thin clients that look and feel exactly like the old apps that agents are already used to. Training is a hugely reduced or nominal item in the deployment costs.


In the case of Dovetail CRM, adoption is never an issue: agents come to work and find that what looks like their old desktop suddenly contains a vast library of new functions, generally within a click or two. We’ve documented the uplifting effect of Dovetail replacement software many times. Adoption becomes a voluntaristic force in our case. But for others throughout the industry, adoption has always been something of a problem with CRM.


Part of this is the independent nature of salespeople, many of whom are on commission pay structures rather than salary; often it’s hard for salespeople to see the value in spending time making the system work, and it’s hard to pressure them into taking the time if it takes their eye off the ball.


But there is usually a more fundamental reason for lack of adoption, and this forms part of the other syndrome we mentioned, the expectations gap. Executives often misunderstand the specific map of the business process that will be covered by the CRM installation: they expect magic bullets that will “take care of” a generalized condition. On the other side, IT tends to know exactly what the system will do, and fails to understand the business needs.


A new survey by Gartner shows that, while IT tends to get blamed for the underperformance or outright failure of business intelligence software projects, the more fundamental problem lies in lack of sponsorship or ownership by the chief officer level of the organization.


“Burton, who surveyed 350 organizations about their business intelligence projects, found that only 10% reported their projects had a C-level executive sponsor with a direct link to the business. Twenty-five percent said their projects were sponsored by an IT manager, and 25% had no executive sponsor at all.


“What raised the red flag for Burton, howev er, was that 40% of those polled said their business intelligence projects were owned by lower-level business executives. That isn’t ideal, Burton said, because that group tends to have tactical rather than strategic roles—which is what ends up sinking a project.” From Business Intelligence Projects Fail Without C-Level Ownership


As IT Director Andrew Clifford has explained, ownership of IT systems are important underlying conditions for stable development and the long life of the system. Installs that perform effectively for a long time are the best installs.


“Effective owners are vital for long-lived systems. Without effective owners, systems fall off the management agenda and quickly decline into unsupportable legacy.” See Long-lived systems: ownership


Again, at Dovetail we’re fortunate that we rarely see this expectation gap. Often, the Clarify install has already fallen into the area of despair, and become a thorny issue of whether the legacy investment can be extended, or should be scrapped. Our open design philosophy brings upgrades to the Clarify system in the form of open standards (rather than proprietary) that IT can easily integrate into the rest of the computing environment.


Having said this however, the issue of communication between IT and business is pandemic, and is thrown into sharp relief with software that manages business processes – it would be ideal to have A Joint Language of Development for Business and IT. We must all keep working on it.