Over my career I have spoken with a number of CIOs and technical decision makers who make CRM software and provider decisions based on cost. Their logic typically goes something like this: Product X may only meet 50% of the requirements, but it is so cheap that we can afford to build the other 50% ourselves or Provider Y’s implementation costs are so low, that we can do the project two or three times.
About five years ago, I lost an opportunity to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM because of cost. In the loss review, the CIO told us we had great people and he had 100% confidence in our ability to deliver. So what went wrong? We were more than double the cost of the winning services provider and the client felt “the project could afford to fail.” The big difference between our proposal and the winning one was that our implementation methodology for Microsoft Dynamics CRM included a plan to ensure user acceptance.
Later, I reconnected with my former client and asked how things at the company were going. He shared with me that the CRM project was still not fully live – five years after it was supposed to launch – and likely on its final legs. So what happened? My former client noted that the technical implementation went well; a few typical hiccups, but the solution was deployed and made available to end users. Sounds good and everyone CRM-ed happily ever after, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately the end-users rejected the solution and they haven’t achieved a sustainable level of adoption.
Why didn’t the end-users adopt the solution? I suspect it has something to do with not including them in the process – unless you consider a one hour webinar the week before going live as inclusive. It is now well-known and researched that most CRM projects fail because of low-to-no user adoption. Our client believed the solution they selected was so simple to use that they didn’t need to include the end-users in the process.
Delivering a successful CRM solution, like Dynamics CRM – one that end-users will actually use – demands more than just a budget solution and technical delivery. The non-technical aspects of the approach are key to success. For example:
- Focus group workshops and other channels for feedback
- Awards and incentives for solution champions and a unique brand for the solution
- Early access to the solution with features such as real-time feedback buttons
- Train-the-trainer workshops and classroom training sessions
- Chat and phone hotline for go-live support
Activities such as these should always be a core component of a solution implementation. What was the cost of all these activities? I can’t be certain now, but I think the cost of not doing them is obvious – a failed CRM implementation. The validation of our approach – even five years late – doesn’t make this any better, because the solution didn’t produce a successful outcome for their business. The business is still suffering from the same challenges:
- Salespeople still manage contacts and leads in siloed solutions. What’s the cost of all those contacts and leads walking out the door when a salesperson leaves the company?
- Opportunities are managed in spreadsheets. What’s the cost of losing deals because information falls through the cracks?
- Marketing still sends promotions to existing customers and sales teams still call on existing clients with no knowledge of the promotion. What’s the cost of being disjointed?
These are just a few examples of the hidden costs of failure. You could add the loss of confidence in CRM solutions, impact on reputation, the opportunity cost of all the time and resources and so on. How do you measure these? It is more complex than simply measuring the costs of two solutions side-by-side.
What should you consider besides cost? If you’re evaluating a Dynamics CRM solution or starting any CRM project:
- Mind the gap – How difficult will it be to close the gap between what the software solution offers and your needs?
- Adopt me please – The technical details are important, but are you including end-users in the implementation process to get their buy-in and adoption of the solution?
- The stakes – What are the hidden costs of failure? Can you really afford them?
Producing successful outcomes for our clients is our number one goal. Whether you are considering a Dynamics CRM solution or currently implementing one, RSM offers a full range of services from evaluation and implementation to development and support. Contact our professionals for more information on our services at 855.437.7202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Brad Beumer – Great Lakes Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner