8 ways to ensure a CRM project fail (Part 2)

Assuming you are reading this article because you enjoyed part 1 so much and could not wait to see what comes next, welcome back! If you have not read Part 1 yet, I would recommend you do that. Now.

Again, my goal is to bring insight on pitfalls to avoid if you do not want to fail your CRM project, as so many do. Part 1 gave insight on being prepared for purchasing, in this continuity, we will tackle the implementation process. Let’s get the CRM implementation party started!

The Universe was created in the Big Bang, your CRM shouldn’t!

Big-Bang-CRM-shouldnotThe wish to deploy a perfect solution is natural and understandable. And how you get there is debatable as I believe as there are many ways to do it. Take the ‘’Big Bang’’ for example, where a consultant spends a year building a solution for one major go-live. It’s not an impossible thing to do, it’s actually the way it has always been done. The issue I have with major ‘’Big Bang’’ deployments, is that markets are changing faster than organizations keep up with. So the CRM you implement today may not be the same you need tomorrow. Markets evolve rapidly, competitors follow trends, and your business adapts to these changes, so should your project. I think you need to avoid long development cycles and deployment stretching over to many months/year.
Imagine spending a year deploying a solution, and within that same year, facing a disruptive market change or organizational restructuration. You designed your solution based on the way things work today, but the way your customers buy, and your competitors sell, dramatically changed in a flash – Look at what the Retail Store Industry faced when Online buying became huge. I believe that following the plan, but making multiple deployments (quick wins), allows you to ensure your CRM will follow whatever the market throws at you. Yearlong linear deployments are less and less relevant. Furthermore, people want to be up and running quickly, and get a return on investment fast.

Recommendation: It’s ok to have a plan in mind, break down your end solution in a form of a roadmap. Leave room for improvement and allow different iterations of your solution by deploying in smaller phases. Let your solution adjust and react and adjust to whatever the market throws at you, or whatever directions your organization decides to take during the deployment. Look for integrators who can work in an agile environment and steer clear from linear old fashion deployment as much as you can.

Not sticking to the plan

planUnlike more rigid solutions, such as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) for example, which are based around standardised financial and operation templates and workflows, good CRM solutions come with standard features. But that’s not why you choose a CRM. A good CRM offers deep flexibility and can be tailored to do anything. I mean, anything.
Which is why it is very important to stay on track with the original deployment plan. Due to the shear possibilities offered by good CRMs, the typical ‘’since we are here, might as well do this too’’ becomes appealing, but really, turn out to be expensive very rapidly. You’ve spent time identifying your gaps, your goals and the metrics for success for a good reason, so stick to the plan. For example, if you are deploying Sales Automation, don’t go on a Marketing Automation addition mid-way just because you can. You need to monitor your team to ensure no low value features get added along for the ride. Keep those (change requests) for the next date.

Recommendation: In Part 1, I elaborated on how identifying your requirements, goals, set of pain points allow you to figure out what is to be expected from your solution/deployment. Very much like a road trip, if you setup your final destination, and decide to change course along the way, the final time to arrival will be impacted, and so will the cost of your trip. Steer clear of cluttering your deployment with unplanned features along the way.

Underestimating your efforts


A successful deployment will require lots of efforts from your internal team. Yes, your team. The difference between a successful project and one that fails, is as simple as this – Don’t lean back and relax. Look at this deployment as a rally race (although it’s not a race), where you, the pilot, and your integrator, the co-pilot, work together towards a win. I have seen projects where clients have their two hands on the steering wheel, and the integrator provides the guidance needed to prevent ending in the ditch, and others where it’s the opposite. In the end, it comes down to your comfort level and internal expertise.

But either ways, a CRM project requires a lot of efforts on all fronts. You need to commit to an internal project structure, and ensure your team will dedicate the time required to see this though. Speaking out of experience, if you are not prepared to do what it takes, and dedicate the required time, just leave the project in a locker until you can, because you are headed right for that ditch! Day to day activities are unavoidable, but are not an excuse. Plan your resource availabilities, allow them to invest the time required. The last you want is a project team that gets discouraged/annoyed with the project, and solution provider that spends all your money on additional project management tasks. Sounds extreme, but it happens.

Recommendation: You need to dedicate time for the steering meetings, you need to free up your internal project team’s time, and you need to ensure your internal project manager follows through on deadlines. Hire additional staff, reduce workloads if needed, but don’t expect the same output. This is not business as usual. A project can take up to 2-3 days out of someone’s week, for 8 to 12 weeks. Don’t underestimate the workload, you can expect to invest a day of work, or more, for each day of work your solution provider puts in. Steer clear of partners that say a CRM project is easy, because it’s not.

Getting your CRM adopted

Getting-CRM-adoptedThe end in mind goal for your project is for the solution to be adopted, and forever be loved by your team. You want your team to fundamentally care for it, like they would for a child. I know there are various ways to get something adopted, and that the subject is far greater than this article. One thing that worked for us is to involve the end user, as they are often overlooked. I’m not saying – Give the power to the end user! Otherwise you’ll end up with a CRM that triggers the coffee machine when it recognizes Joey is two blocks away from the office according to Google Maps. But consider them in the process, they’ll be the one making this a success.

So, build a CRM Ninja Team formed of tech-savvy individuals that are perceived as leaders to others. The CRM Ninja Team will have two purposes. The first one is to prevent a major solution rollout that does not meet the expectations of end users. The second is spread out the desire for this solution like a virus would spread in a zombie movie. No one can be spared.

How do you do this? Easy. Collect feedback from them in the design and/or testing phases, on things such as navigation, steps required for task ABC, form layouts and overall usability. Listen, and adjust if required. Also, ask them about their ideal features. And say NO to them. If they present a value-added business case, then you can consider. Give them a voice and a choice in how this solution should feel.

Recommendation: Management can impose that employees will need to use a new solution, but do not impose any solution on them. Form a CRM Ninja Team, test on them, listen to what they say, monitor them while letting them be creative, adjust your pitch, and only then, spread on a larger scale, rollout to larger groups. Find what’s in it for the end user and leverage this as part of the plan. Remember, a CRM is a tool that helps organizations meet their goals, and goals are met through individuals (end users), make them count.


In conclusion, there are many more steps you can avoid. At a high level, I hope these points will help you avoid such failure. In the course of the next year, I will explode some of these subject in more details. I hope this helps you in your CRM endeavors as a successful project will have an immense positive impact on your organization.



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