St. Patrick's Day 2006

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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St. Patrick's Day 2006

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is.. oh, let’s dig out something Oirish in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which is virtually ignored in Ireland as it’s always been much more about the American Irish experience (the name “Erin” originated outside of Ireland, among expats), bunch of Irish getting together in the pub in Boston, New York and Chicago to drink Guinness, sing and reminisce about the stories Gran’ma told about the Auld Sod… what’ve we got here… okay, The Dust Rhinos’ “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Yeah it’s Scottish, but close enough, the Rhinos – great band – are certainly mick through and through, and it’s still the best song ever written about trotting off into the hills for a little afternoon delight. Yee-ha, Erin Go Bragh:

This summary is as good as any:

St. Patrick was born around the year 385 in a village in Wales. When he was sixteen, a group of Irish pirates raided his village and took many of the young men back to Ireland to work as slaves. Patrick worked for six years as a herdsman in the Irish countryside. In his sixth year, he escaped and made his way back to Wales.

“But, according to his autobiography, soon after he got back home he heard a voice telling him to go back to Ireland and convert the Irish to Christianity. That’s eventually what he did, but first he went to France to visit monasteries and study religious texts.”

It’s actually a point of contention whether or not Christianity had already been introduced into Ireland or not by the time Patrick went, but if it had observance was negligible.

“After twelve years in France, he went back to Ireland, where he founded monasteries, schools and churches, and converted much of the island to Christianity. Patrick transformed many pagan traditions into Christian ones.”

In Thomas Cahill’s delightful book How The Irish Saved Civilization, he notes that Patrick was the first confirmed Christian missionary to ever take the gospel beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, St. Paul never trod a non-Roman road in his life, the tradition is that the apostle Thomas went to India but there’s no evidence of that.

Ireland was a completely – completely – foreign land, in every sense of the word, when Patrick went. His work stands as one of the most amazing accomplishments in world history, secular or sacred.

Another useful report from Forrester, this time on how to select a CRM service provider, How To Select a CRM Professional Services Provider. First CoffeeSM’s thanks to the author, analyst William Band, for sending it along.

Burning their usual copious amounts of shoe leather, the researchers find that “although enterprises place high importance on the quality of the firm that they engage to support CRM projects, four out of 10 would not recommend their CRM PSP to others.”

Okay, so bearing in mind that four times out of ten a recommendation from another firm on their CRM service provider is an attempt to sabotage your company, how does one go about picking up quality help?

Forrester identifies a handy twelve-step program for doing so. Number One is to get in a circle and repeat “Hi, I’m Acme Anvils and I need CRM.” Then – what? Oh, sorry, wrong twelve steps.

First off, service providers don’t need to sweat. Forrester finds that enterprises continue to invest heavily in CRM-related capabilities, expecting enterprises “to spend about $3 billion worldwide on new CRM software licenses in 2006.” They say total spending with CRM application vendors, including vendor services and maintenance, “will exceed $8 billion.”

Yes, the consultants will get their slab of all that cherry pie: “Expenditures on new CRM software licenses are only a small portion, perhaps 25 percent, of an enterprise’s required investment to implement new CRM technologies,” Forrester finds. “Worldwide expenditures on CRM consulting and systems integration are likely in the range of $6 billion per year.”

And this figure doesn’t even include the large sums spent on outsourced CRM services providers in the contact center and direct marketing sectors.

Forrester breaks down their twelve recommendations for how to find a good professional service provider into three areas:

Competence. The most essential evaluation criteria for evaluating CRM PSPs are their knowledge and skills pertinent to the problems facing the enterprise. Is the PSP highly knowledgeable about the needs and requirements of your specific industry? Does it understand the specific business processes related to the scope of your CRM technology implementation?

Relationship. Will the PSP be easy to do business with after you have contracted its services? Will it help you find ways to lower your total cost of ownership for the CRM software technologies to be implemented? Will it adhere closely to the agreed budget?

Results. Will the CRM PSP help you quickly realize value from the CRM applications? Will it provide good value for investing its services to formulate and implement CRM strategies, processes, and technologies?

Forrester recommends making sure your PSP is at least able to walk and chew gum on three areas: Demonstrable knowledge of the technical characteristics of CRM application, demonstrable knowledge of the requirements of the industry and demonstrable knowledge of business processes.

Watch that last one – Forrester found that over thirty percent of all companies thought their PSPs lacked that crucial knowledge.

Lots of other actionable advice, the entire report’s well worth the price. In the end, Band boils it down to four main points:

Your PSP’s CRM technology skills must be solid, since, well, competence in the technical nuances of the CRM products is kind of what you’re paying them for. Make sure that the consultants assigned to your project are certified by the vendors.

Seek a partner that you can work with easily. You need a consulting partner that can work effectively with your people.

Require – don’t ask, require – that your budget be respected. Consultants now have deep experience about the costs and benefits that can be achieved in given circumstances. Insist on fixed-price contracts to ensure that the consultant bears its fair share of the risk for project delivery.

Demand value from your consulting partner. Find a CRM professional services partner that can provide references attesting to business results they have achieved. Redefine project success metrics to include not only cost and schedule milestones, but also to include business outcome metrics.

Breath of sanity: All this CRM stuff’s great, sure, but don’t forget that business is still about the relationship, not the management part.

Australian industry Steven Deare writes of the Australian National Bank, as CRMed-up as anyone with unified data warehousing and SMS assisted log-ins and what have you, but such technologies will only ever complement traditional services rather than replace them, according to Gerd Schenkel, general manager, customer strategy and cross marketing, NAB.

“We are a firm believer that banking is a face-to-face business and we use technology more and more to support our face-to-face sales people,” Deare reports Schenkel saying at a Teradata conference in Sydney this week, adding Schenkel’s comment that “ believe a big area of innovation will be in technologies that help our people deal with our customers face to face or on the phone.”

Amen. Now go grab a Guinness. What about your boss? Yeah, sure, get her one too.

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