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How to save CRM projects in distress

Major problems in CRM projects are a common occurrence, according to different surveys that came to similar conclusions. In the past, consultants of ec4u expert consulting ag have often faced the challenge of getting distressed CRM projects back on track. Based on their experiences, they have compiled the following best practices to do just that:

  • Pull the ripcord: if difficulties become more frequent and trust in further evolvement of CRM in the organization is lost, courage and readiness for decision-making is required from those in charge.In keeping with the motto “It’s better to make a painful break than draw out the agony,” the project needs to be stopped immediately for two reasons. Firstly, to avoid unneeded investment in a project that is viewed critically. Second, if the project is continued, further financial and time-related efforts occur to solve the problems without having the corresponding benefits.
  • Transparent status analysis: all issues relevant for success of the project need to be looked at. This means not only including systematically consolidated project reports, but also initial goals and planning guides too.It’s possible that the strategic goals were unclear or the project was conceptualized too narrowly, leaving too much room for interpretation, or there were weaknesses in operationalization. Likewise, other causes of difficulties may be organizational changes in customer management in the course of the project, technical misjudgments, weaknesses in communications, and unrealistic expectations.
  • Skills of the project team: specialized competencies and methodological skills as well as social relationships within the team play an important role. A weak team member or project leader may have far-reaching consequences for the success of CRM projects.Therefore: the quality of the project team and its communications and steering mechanisms must be analyzed in depth in order to determine whether necessary impulses for a more goal-oriented development can be created. The question of whether the project team has been separated from the organizational surrounding in the company and thus does not receive the required support, must be considered as well. In addition, not only the internal project team but also consultants involved in implementation and other issues must be evaluated for their expertise and assignments.
  • Change what cannot be improved: after critically analyzing the problem, one needs to seriously consider a restart where a definitive need for optimization has been determined. This refers to the aspects concerning the concept, specialization, methodology, and personnel. When deciding on the changes, the persons in charge need to bear in mind that only those concepts, methods, and persons that would probably add the most value should remain.However, aspects that cannot be improved should be eliminated. Otherwise, parts of former problems will recur in the future. Even exchanging external consultants should be taken into consideration, if this leads to improved prospects for the success of the CRM project.

No restart without a persuasive roadmap: a continued project under the subject of a restart will only lead to the desired motivational impulses if all above stated factors can clearly determine changes. The project members need to establish trust. The new project goals have to reflect the new success factors from the start. If not, the restart will also fail.

The new project goals need to be communicated comprehensibly within the organization to support the project; above all, the initial project approach really needs to be reformed.


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