CRM Projects: Why the Doom and Gloom?

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.