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Top 10 Factors Attributed to CRM Implementation Failures

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While factors which affect CRM success are generally company specific and always related to the overall CRM strategy, factors which contribute to CRM failure apply to most organizations and can be viewed more universally. To bring perspective and closure to my prior blog post titled the Top 10 Factors Attributed to CRM Implementation Succes, I've highlighted the flip side by identifying those factors that are often correlated with failed projects.

  1. Lack of business cohesion or a lack of understanding of the business will often cause CRM implementation failure. Without a clear CRM strategy, understanding of the business model or clearly defined business practices, a CRM implementation will be an uphill fight and likely fail.

  2. Organizations that believe CRM software is Customer Relationship Management are not going to achieve CRM. It must be recognized early that CRM software is merely an enabler to achieve CRM and while two are related, they are separate.

  3. Poor planning or project management will not only contribute to a CRM implementation failure, but also often result in staff embarrassment and job loss.

  4. All employees must believe in the CRM strategy and the supporting program and software. They must be educated in order to buy-in to the CRM implementation and utilization. If not, user adoption will be a major challenge and tasks such as software customization will be based on either incomplete or erroneous information. Time frames will not be adhered to and training will not be affective. At best, the implementation will take far longer than planned and costs will be excessive.

  5. An unstable or insecure hardware and network platform is likely to challenge system integrity and can often impose political risk that kills a project. Software as a service (SAAS) solutions typically mediate this risk and this function is outsourced to the hosting provider.

  6. A contributing reason to CRM implementation failures is when the implementation becomes overly disruptive to the organization’s daily business practices. There is a fine balance between dedicating the necessary time and resources to a new project and showing results.

  7. Choosing the wrong CRM provider will often end up in implementation failure. If a provider is chosen that is too expensive, lacks expertise, cannot understand your business model and or cannot train employees properly – the CRM implementation will be a failure. It may never actually get off the ground. Sometimes it can also boil down to personalities. Some providers are so enamored with their solution that they do not spend enough focus on the business needs of the company involved. Choose wisely.

  8. One of the benefits of a CRM implementation is that executives gain visibility and a clear understanding of the company’s actual business practices. What they also get is a real look at their customer relationships. Failure to achieve these basic objectives will render the CRM software application worthless.

  9. Data capture must be easy and system ease of use must exist. Many CRM implementations fail due to over-complicating and over customizing the system.

  10. An unsuccessful data conversion can impose strains on the new CRM system. Existing data need to be converted or migrated into the new CRM solution. Depending upon the architecture of the database and data quality, this can cause technical difficulties or pitfalls and is something that needs to be known ahead of time and prepared for. If this is not addressed immediately, it can cause significant cost and time over runs.

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