One of the top causes cited for unsuccessful CRM implementations is a lack of tangible commitment from executive leadership.
It seems hard to imagine doesn’t it?
After all, only a company’s executives can sign off the approval to procure and implement a new major software platform, so how is it that once they have done so, they fail to ensure project success?
That’s a question which this post is not going to answer. Instead of drawing assumptions which may or may not be correct, it’s probably better to iterate why there is so much more to the role of senior leadership in a CRM software launch than some might believe.
Encouragement for Adoption
When the voices of your company’s leaders are not heard loudly speaking out in support of a new CRM platform, there’s little reason for the general workforce to view the implementation as important. While project managers for example, play a critical role in steering the design, build, and timely go-live of a new solution, they are often impotent when it comes to influencing functional teams, especially if the PMs have been brought in from an external consulting firm.
So if the project managers can’t drive home the importance of adoption, who must that task fall to? The only logical answer is the executive leadership. Without active executive encouragement and enforcement, the new system can be seen as “optional”, leading to many sales employees choosing to continue recording their data on spreadsheets, rolodexes and archived emails.
Anchoring Project Scope and Length
Just as the exec team must deliver a clear, consistent, and oft repeated message to the general workforce, so they must take their place as “go-to” decision-makers for the project team. Somebody has to make the decisions that project managers cannot be accountable for, such as when to assign extra resources to combat a lengthening timeline or whether project scope should be broadened to incorporate freshly identified functional requirements.
Without this executive steering, IT projects have a nasty habit of feeding on themselves and growing into never-ending, out-of-control cash drains. Meetings go over the same ground time and again, with nobody able to take the critical decision. Project participants lose interest and become mentally detached and eventually, when things come to a head, the chiefs make a knee-jerk decision either to pull the project or to go live with an incomplete (and potentially unstable) solution.
The Best Part: Celebrating Success
If being 100% on board with a CRM initiative seems like hard work for execs, really its nothing compared to the work that your project team will have put in by the time your CRM system goes live. It’s nothing too, compared to the effort made by functional teams which have operated for weeks with a depleted head count, while some of their people were invested fully in the CRM project.
Finally then, when the solution is live, the executive leadership has one duty that shouldn’t be so much of a burden—thanking the project team and the workforce, before leading them in celebration of a successful CRM launch.