Why CRM implementations fail and what to do about it

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The number of companies that fail at technology implementations ranges from 65% to 85%, depending on the source. And despite advances in technology over the past few decades, companies continue to fail at the same rate.

For that 65%, the failure is almost never due to the technology itself. In our experience, here are the most common reasons CRM implementations fail.

Failing to have a strategic conversation.

Leadership teams often believe that if they fund the investment and provide you with some requirements, the work is done. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Viewing the process as an installation instead of an initiative.

Companies that think they’re installing software often fail. They don’t think strategically about why they are installing software. Instead they are just replacing what they currently have.

IT owning the system after go-live.

After going live, the team goes back to their day-to-day work. IT takes ownership. The problem: The IT team doesn’t know what the business needs on an ongoing basis, or what needs to be added or removed from the platform. They are playing the wrong role, and, as a result, the company is getting an over-engineered system that no one is using, frustrating everyone.

No established cadence beyond go-live.

It’s like the all-too-common scenario where a team meets, decides to execute on Plan A, and then never comes together again. We’ve all been there. The plan dies in day-to-day work. But ongoing conversation is important. Are you getting the outcomes you wanted out of the initiative, and are you adjusting if needed? Are you getting feedback from the user community and measuring adoption? Are your tactics working? Companies that aren’t asking these questions see no change.

Poor training.

Companies that fail typically don’t train around the processes within the application or link them to outcomes they’d like to achieve. They are more likely to train on the features, and they don’t link those features to changes in the business. They also don’t conduct ongoing training for new team members, nor do they implement a process to train on new features in the solution. If a company does not have a way to push the right things out to the right people in a systematic and consistent way, they will struggle.

 

So what do successful companies do right?

On the other hand, companies that succeed (those in the top 35%) have some things in common:

They have a leadership mindset.

They think about why they are implementing a solution, and they view it as an initiative and not as an installation. One company we worked with struggled to secure adoption of their new technology solution. We learned eventually that their CEO hated CRM and did not use it. It was no wonder that nobody wanted to embrace the new solution.

They have a clear understanding of the Why.

They get organisational alignment behind the business outcomes they want to achieve as a result of this technology implementation. The companies that are the most successful with implementations view the initiative as someplace the company is going, not just software to install and maintain.

They have similar organisational structures.

Nearly all companies that are successful deploying CRM have three layers in their organisation, all with clear roles and responsibilities in the process. The first is the Leadership, responsible for defining the business outcomes, clearly communicating those and reinforcing them once the initial enthusiasm for the project wanes post-implementation. The next layer is a core team, a group of subject matter experts who translate the business outcomes into actionable steps for the team to configure or customize tools for use. The core team is usually made up of power users who understand the tool and its purpose. The third layer is administrators. They understand how the software works, as well as what the business is trying to achieve. Having these three layers creates a sense of synergy and ownership among team members.

They built a system for training.

Successful companies prioritise the right training, for the right people, at the right time to ensure that their team is not just embracing the software, but also the Why behind it. Training is well-rounded, incorporating application, process and reinforcement.

They have a cadence of accountability that goes well beyond implementation.

Companies successful with CRM know the business outcomes they want to achieve, and the tactics they are going to employ. Because the team owns the initiative, and built processes around it, they have room to adapt, so they can better absorb change and accelerate through the change. If the outcomes change, they can change direction. And progress would not be disrupted by new team members or even new tools.

Look out for our upcoming blog next week where we explore business outcomes in more detail. And if you just can’t wait until then, check out this video explaining how you can get the most out of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales.