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Change Management

Why do people hate your new CRM (or any other) system?

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An article at Forbes.com was titled “What Salesforce.com Won’t Tell You“, but it’s not just about that particular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The lessons highlighted are equally applicable to almost every new IT project.

I’ve written previously and argued that there’s no such thing as a CRM project (or IT project). There are only business improvement projects, where there may be an enabling IT component.

In the Forbes article, Gene Marks says he’s tired of hearing comments such as:

  • “We hate our CRM system. It’s terrible. No one is using it. We need a better one.” 
  • “Can you recommend a CRM system that is more user friendly?” 
  • “Our CRM system? It’s nothing more than a glorified rolodex!”

He argues that the problem with your CRM system isn’t usually about your CRM system. It’s about you. It’s the way it’s been set up. It’s the way it’s been implemented. It’s the way it’s managed.

I recently wrote about IT Projects and Behavioural Change.

This is a change management issue, not an IT one. Interestingly, Gene’s solutions mirror my experience, particularly where he says “Focus on the reports”. When working with clients on this type of project I’m always keen to find out what reports they’d like to see from the system. Start with the end in mind is a good principle to adopt. Identify the data and reports that you (management) need in order to manage performance. These are essential outputs that your CRM (or whatever) system should produce.

I previously worked in a business where we ran our management meetings around the Dashboards our CRM system generated. If top management needs it to run the business, then it’s not “just a CRM system”.

If you really need these reports to manage the business, you’ve got a good basis for making the system work for you.  It also gives you the potential to “performance manage” the individuals who are using the system and adding information to it. If they’re not using the system properly, you can’t get the reports out and can’t manage the business accordingly.

That links to another of Gene’s points: “Embrace it or suffer”. If the reports are essential to help run the business, users have to be held accountable for using the system (to feed the reports). If you allow them to get away with not using it, you will never make it work for the business. Don’t blame the system, blame yourself for not having that “difficult conversation” with the recalcitrant user(s).

The other recommendation in the Forbes article is to get a great system administrator and that reflects my experience too. Find someone (not an IT person) who will love it, polish it and make it their own. They’ll be worth their weight in gold. They’ll help you create the reports you need to get insight from your data and ensure the system really does add value to the business.

Download my article (pdf): There’s no such thing as a CRM project

These may also interest you:

CRM – the clue is in the title

Sho-Net CRM Case Study

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