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Hbl get staff aboard first


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How companies can get their CRM implementation right

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Hbl get staff aboard first

  1. 1. 7/26/2010… Date:26/07/2010 URL: Back Get staff aboard first How companies can make a CRM implementation work.. Amit Garg Valliappan K These days, every organisation appreciates the fact that a CRM system can help its business immensely, be it in enhancing its revenue per customer or in increasing the productivity of its sales force. There used to be a time when the costs of implementing a CRM system were so high that it was hard to assess the return on investment. With the advent of ‘Software as a Service' (SaaS) models, the investments have reduced so significantly that the benefits clearly outweigh the costs involved. However, there are still many failed implementations out there. These failures can be attributed to many reasons, but one of the key issues is the lack of organisational support. Some simple steps can help convert resistance to support — and enhance the chances of success manifold. Don't avoid employee fears, address them People are always uncomfortable with change and having to learn a new way. The first challenge, therefore, is to convince them that moving to a CRM system will help ease their work. Many companies spend time convincing people of the business benefits of the system, but employees don't necessarily care about that. What they care about is what new they will need to learn and whether the new system will increase their work. Many organisations choose to overcome this issue by phasing their implementation. In the first phase, they essentially automate the existing forms — warts and all — with some simple process improvements. This helps in many ways. The employees are familiar with the formats and they see the benefits of the process improvements. In the next phase, these companies start tweaking the forms, enhance functionality and improve processes further. Is this the ideal implementation sequence? No. But we find that it helps get the system off the ground.… 1/3
  2. 2. 7/26/2010… The other roadblock faced by most organisations is that employees start feeling insecure about the ownership and the usage of their customer's information. There is a (justified) feeling that a CRM system shifts customer control from the employee to the company. This concern exists in both small and large companies. Rightfully, that's the way it should be — customer control should be with the company — but that's another story! In order to get employees to shift their data onto the system, a company often has to provide assurances to the contrary. This includes simple things, such as providing access controls to customer information, and streamlining the incentive structure to prevent misuse. In fact, one can also create incentives for a sales person to be the first to log a particular customer's information. Reward participation Amit Garg An important requirement for any change initiative is to create visible organisational excitement for the project. Having the CEO's backing is an important step — it communicates the importance of the project to the employees. If the top management is ambivalent about CRM, the implementation will almost certainly fail. Handpicking an implementation team of star performers furthers that perception. This team can receive visible benefits — special trainings, a superior work environment, meetings with the top management and mentions in internal communications are some of the possibilities. We find that some of the softer benefits can be quite important for employees and can act as a significant motivator. Ensure success A failed pilot is something that a company can ill afford — for it sets off a wave of pessimism in the organisation. It is therefore imperative to ensure that the pilot is successful. Using star performers for the implementation is one step in this direction, as is top management support. Critically, the system must be thoroughly tested before the pilot is initiated. Unfortunately, testing is a weak area for many vendors. Therefore as a client, one needs to over-invest in this area. Typically, there are several questions that employees have during the pilot phase, and hence vendor support must be available for trouble-shooting and refresher training. We find this an area that companies often neglect — their contracts with vendors often give lip-service to change management. Unfortunately, many vendors have limited capabilities in this regard and are happy to ignore the subject altogether.… 2/3
  3. 3. 7/26/2010… Most importantly, employees must see tangible benefits coming out of the pilot phase. It is standard practice for companies to celebrate any improvements or benefits coming due to the CRM system — creating excitement and enhancing adoption rates. Some companies even ensure success by diverting hot sales leads into the system during the pilot phase! Enhance the role of management A CRM system changes the role of management quite significantly. Many supervisors spend a lot of their time on creating reports and ensuring process compliance. Both of these requirements reduce quite significantly with a CRM system. So what is a manager expected to do now? The role needs to be re-written — to include sales analytics, increased mentoring and business expansion. Implementing this can be a challenge — many managers are ill-equipped to make this change — and it is therefore incumbent on the organisation to help them in this journey. In one situation, we found that the supervisor's role was almost entirely dedicated to report preparation — which became redundant after the CRM implementation. We therefore used the increased time availability of the supervisors to increase their spans of control and get them more focussed on growth opportunity identification. This helped enhance their role, improve managerial efficiency and deliver faster growth – a win-win for everyone. Improving employee buy-in and participation isn't a guarantee of CRM success, but is a necessary condition. Following the steps outlined above helps overcome employee fears and creates the right set of incentives across the organisation. Amit Garg ( is a Director and Valliappan K ( is a Consultant atMXV Consulting © Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu Business Line… 3/3