Cart before the Horse: CRM Learnings Series
In a successful CRM implementation process must always precede technology but in majority of cases
of CRM implementations its always been “Cart before the Horse”
Process excellence is red-hot. Leading companies worldwide are turning to it to enhance such
business processes as streamlining new product development and improving CRM. The strategy of
business process management is working for companies before and during their CRM initiatives.
A leading manufacturer, for example, opted first to document its account-team collaboration
processes prior to considering CRM technologies to support these processes. This company knows
that in a successful CRM implementation process must always precede technology. To drive success
the manufacturer is following a six-step methodology:
1. Form a cross-functional process team comprising players who are responsible for looking after
customers (e.g., sales, service, finance, logistics).
2. Let the cross-functional team chart as-is account-team collaboration business processes.
3. Validate documented processes with customers.
4. Work closely with customers to enhance as-is processes to create to-be business processes.
5. Train users on the new to-be processes.
6. Use CRM technologies to support the enhanced to-be processes.
Similarly, to reboot a stalling CRM initiative a government agency temporarily halted its multiweek
CRM pilot, which was meant to test its new customer account management application, and applied
a five-step approach:
1. Document as-is business processes.
2. Provide these business process flows, and the resulting prioritized business functional
requirements, to the CRM software's technical programming team.
3. Set baseline metrics prior to the commencement of the pilot, and then update these metrics
weekly during the pilot.
4. Properly train pilot users on the new business processes and the CRM pilot tool.
5. Identify process and technical glitches, and act promptly to resolve them.
The pilot was so successful using this process-excellence approach that as a result, the agency's top
management is using the methodology to roll out the CRM application to additional users.
Companies can also use a process-excellence strategy to boost existing CRM results. The insurance
division of an automotive firm needs to increase the number of processed insurance applications
five-fold within three years to meet its financial objectives. To accomplish this the organization is
implementing a three-step process:
1. Document and then revamp as-is business processes, taking into account customer input.
2. Train insurance agents on the new to-be processes.
3. Use CRM technology to support the new processes.
Initial results have been promising. The company is already able to process additional insurance
applications as a direct result of its process excellence efforts. Management expects that CRM
technology will only further enhance their results.
Interestingly, these three organizations are following a similar process strategy to achieve CRM
implementation success. Their first step was to get the customer-facing processes right by
enhancing them as necessary. Next they took the time to secure buy-in from internal and external
process users. Finally, they applied CRM technology to optimize the new, enhanced processes.
If your CRM initiative is not following the above strategy, which has process excellence at its core,
perhaps now is the time to rethink your approach.