Why Consultants Should Read The CRM Manifesto

Why should people working in CRM deliveries take a look at the CRM Manifesto? Why should consultants sign on as a signatory to support its goals?

Most people who have worked on CRM projects for a while will tell you it is a myth that a delivery always goes smoothly and every single problem can be solved with technology. At the heart of all CRM delivery projects is the desire to help organisations “improve” their way of working using technology. Fashionable terms such as “technology enabled transformations” and “employee empowerment” show up now-a-days in just about all Microsoft Dynamics 365 proposals in projects big or small.

But what does it mean?

How do we, as CRM consultants, approach these discussions and help customers on this journey? Sometimes we are so focused on the technology that we risk forgetting technology (no matter how bleeding-edged) might not be the answer to every problem. Transformation begins with people, and technology like Dynamics 365 often plays an important supporting role.

The CRM Manifesto to the Rescue

To me, the CRM Manifesto is a set of “fundamental truths” that we should keep in mind and seek to openly discuss with our clients. It is a recognition that technology is only part of the overall solution, and that all successful CRM deliveries engage and motivate people to change their way of working, to collectively improve and achieve an organisation’s changed vision for the future.

Of the dozen or so points on the CRM Manifesto, two most powerful points for me are:

CRM is a business strategy. Not software. Not a technology.

And

Engaging in CRM means the way we work is going to change.

CRM is a Business Strategy

Fundamentally service organisations provide their clients with products/services. How they interact with their clients form the basis of their customer relationship management strategies. The goal of delivering Dynamics 365 project is to support and improve on the client’s CRM business strategies. A false expectations that crop up often is that setting up Dynamics 365 in an organisation will automatically bring in benefits and improve performance. It is not enough to simply implement the software. Consideration must also be given to the users of the software and their changed daily roles. Hence planning and delivering a project is an organisation changed effort and needs to be recognised as such.

At the beginning of a project, CRM business strategies should be at the heart of the discussion. Success metrics are then derived from the strategies. This allows consultants to guide the designs/customisation of Dynamics 365 to meet these targets. Without these metrics, how can an organisation quantify their situation before and after the implementation, and understand whether a return on investment is achieved?

Likewise once Dynamics 365 has been rolled out in the client organisation, it is often only the beginning of a long changed journey for them. Even if the external implementation partner comes to the end of the engagement, the evolution of an organisation’s CRM business strategies don’t stop here. In that case, why should the organisation’s change program stops just because the implementation has ended? Many transformation experts will tell you that without sustained effort to continue a change program, by supporting users and slowly embed changes to the users’ daily actions, things will fail.

Engaging in CRM means the way we work is going to change

Suppose a customer comes to you with the following problem: they find that staff are not responding to client applications in a timely manner and there are long delays in their approval process. Upon further discussion you discover that the approval process actually involves multiple reviews and authorisation from different managers in different departments, with many manual tasks throughout the organisation. In directly applying some of the functionalities of Dynamics 365, perhaps you might propose introducing auto-generated email reminders to the staff involved, if the application becomes “stuck” and doesn’t progress through the approval process.

There is no doubt that the technology can deliver such a requirement. The more interesting question for me is how effective can this email solution be, if staff already struggle with daily email overload? By auto generating more emails, the intended aim of reminding users to get on with their approval activities would just become lost in the daily electronic deluge.

Certainly the more difficult challenge here is to find and remove existing bottlenecks in the approval process. Perhaps emails IS the solution after careful consideration. Perhaps multiple reviews in the current approval process can be streamlined? Perhaps a radical approach whereby e.g. the old multi-hierarchical manual approval process is removed, in favour of automating approvals based on the manual criteria, which form part of the background system process in Dynamics 365? Or maybe improvements can result simply by storing customer data in Dynamics 365 and sharing access to the data across the entire organisation with clearly defined ownership at each step of the approval process?

Whatever the ideal solution might be, it’s highly likely that meaningful and long lasting improvements will involve changes to the way we work, with or without the application of technology to transform the process.

Becoming a More Broadly Skilled Consultant

As consultants we help customers to realise their customer relationship management goals, But often not all challenges can, or should, be resolved with technology. By using the CRM manifesto as a guide, I find that it helps in not only approaching an problem from multiple angles, but also focus customer discussion not only on the immediate goals but also longer term strategies for their CRM projects.

So here’s the challenge moving forward: in order to discuss the CRM manifesto with clients, many of us must step outside of our comfort zone and think beyond the technology we know and love. It won’t be easy, but the reward can be great if we get this right.

So how do you plan to use the CRM manifesto to help you in your next CRM delivery?

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