CRM is a Journey, NOT just a Project

A few months ago, my colleagues and I huddled in our “Zen” creative room (complete with an Apple Think Different poster of Pablo Picasso) and decided that it was time to finally launch the long-awaited and highly anticipated “V2 Blog”. Prior to that meeting, we had been talking for months (OK, maybe a couple years) about the value of engaging in conversation with prospects, clients, partners and the general business community via a blog. I had shot down the idea so many times in fact, that when my colleague who had joined V2 more recently announced to the rest of the team in an upbeat fashion that we had decided to launch a blog, the more tenured members of the team literally laughed out loud. Message: “We’ve heard that one before, good luck newbie!”

I reluctantly agreed to begin writing an inaugural post and committed to submitting my work for final approval one week ahead of launch. So, in a typical president and sales guy fashion I have been intensely focused on client-centric initiatives over the past couple of weeks and now realizing twenty-four hours prior to our anticipated blog launch that I still have not yet decided upon a subject, let alone submit my post to our marketing team. In full disclosure, I have never written a blog post in my entire life. In order to overcome my bloggers block (is there such a thing?), I reverted back to the most effective tool I know – napkins. My friends and colleagues know that all my best ideas typically start on a napkin, and so tonight I mapped out some ideas which, provided you don’t flood this post with comments asking me to spare you from future posts, will be the topics of our conversations over the coming months.

After much staring at the napkin and internal debate I decided my virgin post would be my own take on possibly the most written about CRM topic of all time: “Why CRM Projects Fail?” I won’t bore you with the details of my credentials, but I am confident that after thousands of CRM-centric conversations during my tenure at Oracle Corporation and running V2’s Salesforce.com practice I have earned the right to share my perspective. And you, the reader, have the right to share your constructive criticism, help me and my colleagues grow and hopefully learn a little bit through our experiences. We look forward to the conversations…

The fact that people always talk about “Why CRM Projects Fail?” leads me to believe that we often frame the conversation in the wrong way. CRM is NOT just a project. Without citing a formal dictionary definition of a project, I would define a project as a set of goals and/or deliverables which aim to be achieved through execution of key tasks over a defined period of time. CRM involves people, processes, technology and culture amongst other factors, all of which evolve continuously within organizations (at least with good ones). To think that you can purchase a CRM solution, implement it and then just ‘let it be’ (reminds me of John Lennon style) is shortsighted. Your initial CRM project is the first phase of your journey. In fact, I would argue that the journey actually starts well before you purchase a solution and that the manner in which you drive your evaluation and buying decision dramatically impacts the success of your initiative (more on this below). Most companies don’t go-live with their CRM solution saying, “Oh boy, the CRM project failed!” It is during the months or weeks after go-live when adoption hurdles become more evident and companies make the critical decision whether to passionately invest in the journey ahead knowing there will be peaks and valleys or lazily throw up their arms and start placing blame on “The Failed CRM Project”. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing eight back of the napkin insights to ensure your CRM journey is a successful one.