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Home > Knowledge Base > General > 10 Warning Signs your CRM Project may be in Jeopardy

You have probably read many articles on what it takes to make a CRM successful. Today, I will discuss the other side of success by discussing warning signs that your CRM may be headed down the wrong road. Here at CRMCulture, we believe that providing honest insight into what it takes to have successful adoption of your CRM is critical to successful implementation and maintenance of your CRM. In my 17 years of working in the CRM world, I have seen first-hand the most common factors that can doom a CRM project.

Warning Signs:

1. No CRM Champion
Every CRM needs a CRM Champion. This person drives operational excellence by filtering down the vision and strategy of the CRM to all others in the organization. If no one steps up to the challenge to evangelize the CRM, your project may be doomed. A great CRM Champion works hand in hand with the executive sponsor, developers, and end-users to create a fantastic CRM. A management consultant may be an option for you if your company does not have the resources to fill this role.

2. Lack of Executive Sponsorship
Do managers and/or key stakeholders have trouble making time for the meetings? Are they too busy to meet, and not engaged with your CRM project? These behaviors are red flags that your CRM may be headed down the wrong path.
Executive leaders, the CRM Champion, developers and end-users must all be actively engaged to make the CRM successful. It is critical to have a leader that can actively perpetuate the view and engage the business in improving the quality of the CRM.

3. Not Budgeting for Post Implementation
You wouldn’t buy a high performance sports car with the assumption that you wouldn’t have to maintain it, right? A car needs gas and oil changes as part of its regular maintenance. The same goes for your CRM – it needs TLC just like your car does. A great CRM strategy involves budgeting up front for the service and maintenance of your CRM. Stay up to date with your CRM or you might miss out on cool features and plug-ins! Your CRM is dynamic and pliable – and it can make your business money! Your CRM needs nurturing to provide your business with continued success.

4. Thinking of CRM as a Software and not a Strategy
CRM is more than just software. Its success is directly affected by the culture that surrounds it. A great CRM will continue to evolve over time to adjust to business processes and the workflow of its users. A bad mindset to be in is insisting on perfect, not better for your CRM. Perfection can be achieved down the road, but focusing on making your CRM better one step at a time in small increments is much more achievable. One way to think of this is to achieve “small wins, small losses” as opposed to “huge wins, huge losses”. In other words, your organization can be more creative in focusing on the small wins rather than risking a huge loss. This mode of thinking can also help mitigate the risk in your organization implementing decisions to improve the CRM.

5. Thinking of Go Live as the End of Work
A common misperception is the belief that the implementation date is the end of work. On the contrary…your Go Live date is just the beginning! CRM is not static software – it cannot be implemented one day and be expected to adapt to the changing needs of your business the next day. Just as an organization continues to grow and refine business workflow processes, so does a CRM. You can’t just turn on the CRM and expect it to fit your business needs – your CRM needs care and service, and above all…a strategy for its continued success.
As an example, accounting software may be relatively static – there’s even a chance that you could implement accounting software and not have to worry about developing a strategy, but a CRM is different. CRM is dynamic, pliable and must evolve to fit the needs of the business.

6. Inability to Find the Killer App for your Organization
Have you really examined your business and thought about the killer app that your business can’t live without? It could be something that your boss wants everyone to use, or it could be as simple as a Sales professional needing a mobile app to take your CRM on the road. Finding that killer app usually takes someone actively listening to the voice of the CRM end-users. Your CRM is not just a database, it’s a business tool!

7. Culture of Tolerance for Bad Software
Our name has “Culture” in it, and part of the reason for this has to do with the fact that we believe that CRM adoption requires a shift in the culture of an organization. If users are not encouraged to lend their ideas and voice to issues with the CRM, the CRM will ultimately fail. If user suggestions and comments are treated as whining or as annoyances, the CRM will not evolve to be a great CRM. Shifting this culture of tolerance to a more proactive and engaged community of users is critical to the success if your CRM.

8. Belief that Training is Automatic
You can’t expect users to attend one training session on how to use the CRM and assume that they have learned everything they need to know about the CRM. Training must be re-enforced – especially during the first month after the implementation. If users continue to perform actions that negatively impact the CRM, the CRM champion needs to intervene – this is to benefit both the trainer and user. There are many different types of learning styles, so the assumption that all users will learn what they need to be successful with the CRM is false. A business that invests in frequent training opportunities is much more successful at implementing and maintaining a great CRM.

9. Not Challenging the Status Quo
A CRM evolves over time to adapt to business processes. CRM strategy is hard work but delivers big rewards. A CRM is really what you make it! Developing a great CRM involves challenging the user to develop quality solutions. Users must feel empowered to provide feedback on what is and isn’t working with the CRM. A great CRM has a culture of empowered users that not only accept change - they embrace change and work to make the CRM better. Users need to be able to ask “why” to make the CRM better. Executives and managers can’t answer the “why” with “because I need it” – this is not going to foster a culture or user empowerment. If someone is empowered to challenge the status quo – a better solution will be delivered.

10. Development is Agile, but End-Users are still using Waterfall
Software iterations need to be agile for the CRM project to be successful. Being agile, contrary to popular belief, is actually a conservative methodology for developing your CRM and allows you to easily roll-back changes if necessary. However, a situation can develop where end-users are still following a waterfall method but development is agile. This can create a riff between end-users and developers, causing confusion and frustration. End-users may be waiting for the “big bang” of the CRM, while the developers are working through a project via small steps. A great CRM project involves a symbiotic relationship between developers and end-users both working in agile sprints to ensure the success and continued health of the project. Again, we return to the concept of “small wins, small losses” to create a great CRM. Small wins over time leads to big financial rewards for your business down the road!

As you have read, a great CRM implementation goes beyond the Go Live date and requires a cultural shift in your organization in order to be successful. There is no CRM that you can implement that will be perfectly customized to your organization’s business processes from day one. One of the biggest misnomers in our industry is the belief that the CRM will work like a “magic pill” for your organization. CRM is not just software…a successful CRM requires a strategy and hard work. However, the hard work put into creating a CRM can be hugely rewarding and profitable for your business if you mitigate and confront the warning signs outlined in this blog.


About the Author:
Steve is the President, CEO and founder of CRMCulture. He is a developer, business owner, industry-recognized CRM expert and evangelist, and dedicated CRM user. This rare combination enables him to have a 360° view of CRM usage in an organization, understand the challenges that all levels of users face, and bring CRM value to any company desiring operational excellence. Learn more about how CRMCulture can help you implement and maintain your CRM by contacting CRMCulture by phone at (720) 536-8875 or email