CRM Projects: Why the Doom and Gloom?

By Barton Goldenberg  |  Posted 2001-04-23 Print this article Print

A number of leading it analysts (gartner, meta group and others) continue to claim that greater than 50 percent of all CRM projects fail to meet user expectations.

A number of leading it analysts (gartner, meta group and others) continue to claim that greater than 50 percent of all CRM projects fail to meet user expectations. Ive been in this business for 17 years and have helped more than 300 companies worldwide to implement their global customer relationship management initiatives. In my experience,

the success rate of most CRM projects is much more than 50 percent. That is why the doom and gloom figures of leading IT analysts have always troubled me.

Im not knocking the leading IT analysts. After all, it is their business to provide general reports of interest to their paying client base. What concerns me is the way they measure success rates.

Lets take an example. I had the pleasure recently of working with one of Americas leading telecommunications manufacturers on a global CRM initiative involving approximately 4,500 employees worldwide. When the project was completed, I asked the vice president of sales and marketing (the sponsor of the CRM initiative) whether it was a success. He put his thumb up, said "Yes," and explained that because of the system, he now had a fairly complete profile of his key accounts.

Yet when I went to the CIO of this company and asked the same question, he placed his thumb down and said "No." He explained that the system was to have integrated several dozen internal legacy and external information sources and that this had not happened because of integration complexity.

So, how would leading analysts categorize this implementation: a success or a failure? In my opinion, theres only one legitimate way to determine if a CRM initiative has missed or hit the mark, and that is to measure it in specific ways. Heres how:

•Set baseline metrics for those business functions that will be automated.

•Set measurable objectives for each of the proposed business areas that will be impacted by the system.

•Measure and report on the accomplishment of each objective on a regular basis to the top management team.

By acknowledging that measuring success will differ for each CRM initiative depending on the metrics agreed to by the company, perhaps leading IT analysts would be in a position to refine their current 50 percent failure rate suggestion.

Barton Goldenberg Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM Inc., has established his Bethesda, Maryland-based company as premier Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Real-Time Enterprise (RTE) strategic advisors, offering consulting and research services to Global 2000 companies, vendors and financial organizations. He founded ISM in 1985.

Goldenberg's foresight and vision to integrate sales, marketing, customer service, e-business, and business intelligence has been central to today's CRM industry success. He is now pioneering a new business model for the 21st century, which will be in his upcoming book, Creating the Real-Time Enterprise.

Goldenberg is co-chairman and co-founder of the CRM and RTE conferences and expositions sponsored by DCI Inc worldwide.

His bottom-line, results-oriented style has made him popular with chief executives around the world and has helped to make him a sought-after speaker and writer. In the United States, Europe, and Asia, Goldenberg conducts CRM and RTE management briefings and has helped companies worldwide successfully implement CRM. Clients include Abbey National, IBM, Lucent Technologies, AAA Mid-Atlantic, New York Stock Exchange, McGraw-Hill, Roche and Xerox.

Goldenberg is the author of CRM Automation (Prentice Hall, 2002 and 2003), which provides a step-by-step process for successfully implementing a CRM program, and the benchmark Guide to CRM Automation (now in its 12th edition), which features ISM's selection of the Top 30 software packages for the enterprise and the small and medium size business sectors. The Guide and CRM-related software reviews are featured online at

Goldenberg is a columnist for CRM Magazine and serves as a member of the Editorial Board. He contributes to eWeek and Sales and Marketing Management magazine, for which he also serves as an editorial advisor. He is often quoted in the media, including BusinessWeek, CIO, Computerworld, Information Week, and Selling Power.

In 1999, he was recognized by CRM Magazine as one of the 'Ten Most Influential People in Customer Relationship Management' for his leadership in galvanizing the CRM industry and his role in co-founding and co-chairing DCI's CRM conferences. In 2002, CRM Magazine awarded Goldenberg as one of the '20 Most Influential CRM Executives of the Year.'
Goldenberg is one of only three inductees into the newly-created CRM Hall of Fame presented by CRM Magazine at the August 2003 DCI CRM Conference in New York.

Prior to founding ISM, Mr. Goldenberg held senior management positions at the U.S. Department of State and Monsanto Europe S.A. He holds a B.Sc. (Economics) degree with honors from the Wharton School of Business and a M.Sc. (Economics) degree from the London School of Economics.

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