First, I'll say I hate the term CRM and always have. It's nebulous, fatuous, non-descriptive and confusing, and if you ask 99 people what it means, you'll get 99 different definitions. That said, I believe in the concept of CRM and bristle a bit when other news organizations and analysts talk about "the failure of CRM" as if it's the fault of the concept or the software that enables it.
It appears that someone agrees with me. Systems integrator Extraprise has found, in a study released today, that without C-level executive commitment (a/k/a "big cheese buy-in"), strategic planning, data integrity and "user adoption" (translation: getting stubborn employees to quit fearing change and actually use the stuff), CRM is a remarkably successful venture.
I wonder if the people who talk about "the failure of CRM" are the same kind of people who buy lawn mowers, store them in the shed untouched and then complain that it was a waste of money...the lawn doesn't look any better.
EXTRAPRISE SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS KEY TRENDS IN CRM
Finds Strategic Focus, User Acceptance, Executive Buy-In Fundamental to Success
BOSTON, April 28, 2005 - Extraprise(r), the systems integration and business process outsourcing firm, validated in a recent survey that strategic focus and robust business processes are key factors in the success of CRM initiatives. C-level executive commitment, maintaining data integrity, and user adoption were also cited as critical success factors.
Extraprise surveyed Dallas area executives in field services organizations in high technology, healthcare, retail and construction with revenues of over $500 million. The survey was conducted as the first of several Extraprise plans to undertake to identify CRM trends by region, job function, and industry.
User adoption and strategic focus were clearly the most important factors. Having a clear vision for the initiative must be strongly emphasized at the outset of a CRM initiative. Whether they remain so depends on another emerging factor in CRM success - the commitment and influence of C-level executives who become project champions.
Respondents also warned against forgetting about the application's users citing the all too frequent habit of asking users what they think once the solution is deployed.
The majority of respondents with CRM initiatives in place have an executive sponsor. Fifty seven percent of those with this level of executive participation identify it as a principal factor in any successful CRM initiative because it legitimizes the project throughout the organization. The executive stamp of approval increases user adoption, eases approval processes, and ensures that the CRM initiative will be in the company's best strategic interests.
Among the most interesting findings of Extraprise's survey is that while the majority of respondents described problems related to business process and data quality as important challenges in CRM initiatives, they did not view those categories as the most crucial.
Issues such as data quality and business process are, however, viewed as vital initial steps, and were seen as areas of ongoing importance throughout the project lifecycle. Respondents said that if a clear data quality strategy and rigid business process are not clearly identified and agreed upon before starting a CRM project they become major obstacles not only for the current project but for future large, complex initiatives.
William Blundon, Extraprise CMO, said, "This survey lends credibility to the importance of a phased, focused CRM initiative with a long-term view. It's clear that early user adoption, data integrity and business processes remain essential factors in successful CRM initiatives, along with the new trend toward seeking executive champions. Companies are clearly taking a critical look at why their CRM initiatives have largely failed. These same companies have invested millions of dollars and are disappointed with their overall results. The survey illustrates the importance of CRM project team members and executives working together and with their service providers and consulting partners to ensure that strategy, user adoption issues, data quality initiatives, and rigid business processes all receive equal emphasis."
Extraprise(r) makes companies more valuable by unifying their customer acquisition, management, and retention initiatives. The company's Insight-to-Interaction (i2i) solutions combine data management, business insight, demand generation, and customer management. Clients use Extraprise services to make their business insights actionable throughout their marketing, sales, and service channels. Extraprise is the first consultant to span the traditional categories of systems integrator and marketing service provider (MSP). Solutions are available on premise and as on demand services at the company's hosting centers.
Extraprise is headquartered in Boston with offices across the U.S. and Europe. Extraprise is on the Web atwww.extraprise.com.