6.9 Managing the CRM program

6.9 Managing the CRM program

Management may be loosely defined as the art and science of getting from here to there. Most large organizations have more than one CRM project touching many parts of the enterprise. And these projects are managed by many different players, some in call centers, on Websites, or run by salesforces or different business groups. Pulling all this activity together into an enterprisewide program is a major challenge. CRM program management guidelines offer a sound approach to program and project management. Developing CRM program guidelines brings managers back inside the enterprise to the starting point.

Program manager guidelines

The following guidelines provide an overview of the practical steps that can be taken to ensure that the CRM program (or programs) will work at all levels, from strategy articulation to software installation and training. The goal of these eight guidelines is to improve the success rate of CRM programs and to enable an organization to measure success through clear linkages between program initiatives and desired business results. Each of the following eight steps matches a phase of CRM program design and implementation:

  1. Program diagnosis

  2. Strategy review

  3. Enterprise architecture

  4. Enterprise application integration services

  5. Package selection and implementation

  6. Application outsourcing assessment

  7. Implementation review

  8. Program and project management

Each step and its associated activities have been proven effective in previous large-scale change and improvement programs, such as business process reengineering and enterprise resource planning (ERP). The hard lessons learned in implementing these projects also apply to CRM programs.

The eight steps recommended in the program management guidelines are described next in more detail.

Program diagnosis

An organization needs to assess its business objectives against current CRM programs to highlight the areas of needed improvement and to identify where it can get the biggest bang for its investment. The diagnosis can examine CRM approaches, conversation design, relationship styles, organizational structure, and IT infrastructure. Understanding how these compare with other organizations and with best practices and how they fit into the enterprise's business strategy will help identify areas for improvement.

Strategy review

An organization needs to review and assess its CRM strategies. The aim of this review is to develop an understanding of the conversation designs and spaces that make its customer relationships profitable. This forms the basis for a CRM game plan that is right for the organization and for the joint development of business and IT strategies.

Enterprise architecture

The program diagnosis and strategy review steps will highlight the benefits of pulling all the CRM-related initiatives that may be scattered across the company into a comprehensive, enterprisewide strategy. A CRM enterprise architecture will help create new conversation spaces; transform customer information into a strategic tool to profile, segment, target, and retain valuable customers; organize sales, marketing, and customer care in a consistent way; and integrate back-office and front-office processes. The architecture should integrate all elements of a CRM solution-people, processes, technologies, and organization.

Enterprise application integration services

One key to success in enterprise architecture development, and in CRM overall, is the seamless integration of channels, people, and technologies into conversation spaces that deliver value to customers. Seamless customer experiences, in turn, depend on the seamless integration of enterprisewide CRM application packages, legacy applications, and Web-enabled systems. Meeting this challenge is the purpose of an enterprise application integration (EAI) game plan.

Package selection and implementation

An organization needs a system for navigating through the crowded marketplace of CRM packages and assessing the effect of changes on its business. Expert assistance is often required both for package assessment and for implementation. Packages must be integrated into the IT environment and attention paid to process design and change management. The aim is to develop a game plan for managing package selection, implementation, and testing through multiyear life cycles. Beyond technical installation, the transformation of business processes must be managed so that new software packages deliver maximum value.

Application outsourcing assessment

Like other software packages, CRM applications require support, maintenance, and enhancement over a period of years. An organization needs to assess whether it would benefit by outsourcing responsibility for this technology-intensive side of the CRM program. Outsourcing may help it evolve and maintain its CRM application portfolio-call centers, e-commerce, and so on-in a logically phased, cost-effective manner. All such contracts need to define clearly the service-level agreements. The aim of this activity is to allow the enterprise to focus on customer relationships, not the supporting technology.

Implementation review

An organization may need to get an overview of all CRM implementation activities to help it focus on the game plan for building the complete set of business and technical solutions, whether in one area of the company or across the enterprise. The aim is to ensure a coordinated approach to the design, redesign, or consolidation of CRM programs-e-commerce initiatives, call center operations, integrated customer information systems, and campaign management.

Program and project management

CRM involves a multiplicity of initiatives. Each initiative needs to be well managed. Just as importantly, all need to fit into coherent CRM programs. Often advanced program and project management methods are required to accomplish this. Program or project management offices (PMOs) can be created to ensure that CRM-related projects deliver value and fully support strategic business initiatives.