Learning From Failed CRM Software Implementations: 5 Reasons Why It Happens

Software companies are making a sincere effort to ease the process of implementing their systems. There are always a number of resources provided, consulting is offered (be it on a paid basis), and other help is offered to ensure implementations go through smoothly. Unfortunately, failed implementations are still a common reality for many companies today. A recent study done in North American markets estimates that over half of all CRM implementations fail to meet company objectives, and this number is even larger in Europe.

So, what can you do to avoid this from happening to you? Well, you can learn from other company’s failures. We’ve researched the top reasons why implementations fail in the first place, as well as ways around these issues, and listed them here.

Firstly; companies often lack a clear strategy.

CRM implementations take time and need to be done in phases, with proper planning. Not only does a step-by-step process need to be laid out, but it needs to include all objectives, how these objectives will be reached, and it needs to be made clear to all users who intend to use the system. Having a project manager to help create and carry out this strategy is essential.

Choose wisely.

Companies commonly go with solutions not suitable for their business. CRM software is getting a lot of hype lately, and plenty of businesses assume because a solution is popular that it will work for them. This mistake will make an implementation fail before it even starts. Firstly, you must take into account your industry, and what you plan to use your CRM for – as all solutions have different purposes. A great way to start is to look at what the competition in your industry is using, and demo these solutions. Create a checklist of features you need, and establish a workflow with dummy or real data. Are you seeing increased efficiency and other common outcomes?

Consider your entire business first.

Companies often don’t take the entirety of their business workflow into account. It’s common practice to start with a CRM implementation, see the benefits, and then get “software-happy”, and begin implementing project management software, billing software, marketing software, and whichever other needs. Then a company has 3+ separate subscriptions that don’t properly integrate, data is unorganized and spread out, and there’s no central communication process. It’s at this point that users often head back to using email and other methods – one of the biggest signs an implementation has failed. If you know what your needs are earlier on, you can use a solution that integrates these features naturally. This way, data remains centralized, users aren’t constantly jumping between systems, and communication stays in one place.

On the other end of the spectrum, over customization can be detrimental.

Many platforms make it very easy to pick and choose a package suitable for your business while providing numerous integration options and add-ons. A company thinks it knows what it wants, but without any real testing data or CRM experience, can go overboard and end up with an expensive bill and an inefficient workflow process that results in users being turned off from the system entirely. This is why having an experienced CRM consultant is crucial, as well as a project manager to carry out the implementation. Remember, just because it’s a popular add-on does not mean it’s suitable with your business.

CRM is a process, not just an app.

Without a clearly established way of using CRM software that the all users have agreed on, even the most of sophisticated of applications become just like email and spreadsheets again. Understand your business workflow and apply it directly to your software, or find one that matches it. If a workflow is not yet evident, establish a new process with your CRM software that makes sense for everyone.

Remember, CRM implementations take time and need to be carried out with caution. Do your research, create a plan, select your software wisely, and stick by that plan. Good luck!

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