Your CRM Doesn’t Suck, Your Implementation Does

When it comes to poor CRM implementations, a famous line out of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet comes to mind: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” The speaker has just seen the ghost of Hamlet’s father, the late king of Denmark. Similarly, you may be haunted by struggles with your CRM system.   Before you complain to the software vendor, you have to know something. The problem is not with the technology—it’s with the implementation.  All major CRM platforms are essentially the same, be it Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Zoho, or Oracle. At Altruas, we create both Salesforce and Dynamics CRM implementations that do what the customers need them to do.    There are plenty of success stories for all the big-name CRM solutions.   Trust me, I know. I have a 20-year history implementing successful CRM systems and performing project rescues for companies of all sizes. Along the way, I’ve discovered why seemingly good implementation projects fail. Factors both inside and outside an organization influence the outcome. To avoid the pitfalls of a rotten CRM implementation, you need to control as many of these factors as possible. Externally, that means you:
  1. Don’t listen to the software vendor. No matter who the provider is, they only want to sell you licenses. I’ll even repeat that in bold: The software vendor only cares about selling licenses. I’ve seen vendors say just about anything to achieve that end. Make no mistake about it: They have no stake in the long-term outcome of your implementation. What’s more, the salesperson has little to no experience actually implementing the software they want you to buy.
  2. Make your implementation partner earn your trust. Most partner organizations have a pretty good “A-Team,” who typically does all of the successful implementations you read about in case studies. “The B-Team’s” capabilities can vary dramatically, however. Some partners are good, but others fill the project with people they recruit and send to a “boot camp.” The latter approach is an almost-guarantee for implementation problems.
A few years ago, I took over a project rescue at a Fortune 500 company where a large implementation partner had brought in a team headed by someone I had interviewed. This person wasn’t horrible, but didn’t have a senior architect’s skill set. The implementation partner desperately needed people to complete the project, so they put him in charge. It didn’t go well. Another time, a partner told a colleague that he would be leading a large CRM implementation team because he was the only one who had ever worked with that product before.   Bottom line: To have a successful CRM implementation, you need the right partner—one you can rely on. On large engagements, I recommend bringing in an experienced third-party not associated with your chosen partner to act as auditor. On smaller ones, start with a relatively simple project and let them earn your trust over time. Next time, we’ll discuss what you can do internally to ensure your CRM implementation doesn’t go bad.   In the meantime, if you’re looking at a CRM or ERP solution to solve a business problem, consider Altruas. We build satisfactory, long-term relationships with our clients based on trust. They know we view them as people, not as projects. And every

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