5 Ways to Beat CRM Project Failure

27 Aug 2018

It’s estimated that by 2025, the global CRM market will be worth a whopping $81 Billion. Whilst CRM has been around for a fair while, in recent years the market has seen a sharp growth as technology becomes a key part of every business, no matter its shape or size.

But with benefits such as a boost in operational efficiency, reduced marketing costs and hikes in profitability promised from the outset, why do so many CRM projects fall flat?

There is never one sole reason for a CRM implementation resulting in failure. It’s often a mix of factors that lead to the transition ending in frustration. We’ve identified what we believe to be the 5 main reasons CRM projects fail. AND are going to explore the ways you can overcome them…

But first…

What is CRM Implementation?

CRM implementation is the process by which you (1) get your new CRM system set up to fit your business’ processes; and (2) make sure your team are trained and confident in using it.

When we are helping a customer with their implementation, we refer to it as their CRM project. Managing these projects varies from business to business…and that’s why it can be so difficult to write advice on this process.

But I’m going to do my best.

Cause and Effect

The decision to opt for a new or replacement CRM system is often not driven by the benefits providers advertise. These decisions are instead taken by an existing problem (or problems) within a business. The objective to fix an existing problem is sound, but only if that problem is correctly identified. Failure to sniff out the root cause of a problem may not alleviate your initial frustrations after all.

Let’s consider an example:

“I’m currently managing my data across multiple spreadsheets, it’s so chaotic, I can’t find what I need. I want everything in one system, so I know where to look.”

From that statement, it may be fair to assume that a centralised database could be the answer. Somewhere where the data can be collected and stored all in one place.

But, let’s challenge that and think about the bigger picture. What is the real problem here?

“I need all of my data in one place, so that I can find exactly what I’m looking for in a quick and easy manner, thus reducing my chaos.”

Now a simple and centralised database alone will not solve the problem. We need something more intelligent that not only holds the data but allows us to use it in a dynamic way. A failure to identify the real cause here would have left the new system unfit for purpose from the moment it went live.

The Solution – Take additional time to work out what you really need! Ask deeper questions to prise out your specific requirements; not only will this help solve your problem, it means the suppliers you speak with will also be better equipped to help!


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Gain Maximum Involvement

When rolling out a new CRM system, implementation projects are typically run by a relatively senior member of your team. And so they should be; rolling out a system needs the authority a senior position commands, but what about your team on the ground?

As the ones who are going to be putting the new system to good use, they need to be involved in the decision and onboarding process. A lack of end user engagement is likely going to cause:

  • Valuable insight being lost. Your team on the ground are putting processes into practice every day. Their biggest pain points and department best practices potentially lost by not consulting them.
  • Discontentment throughout the team. There may be a sense of “here we go again” as the new change is dropped on their desk unexpectedly. This usually leads to a lack of engagement once the project kicks off.
  • The Change Management process isn’t managed. Change across any business unit is tough, with different people responding to change in very different ways. Sowing the seed of change early can aid the overall process.

So, how to overcome this? Firstly, keep the authority within the project. This ensures there is clear and communicated buy-in from all levels as well as communicating the bigger picture objectives.

Alongside this, involve as many people in the process as possible. Not only are you going to gain value insight from all levels of your business, you’re going to promote ownership of the end result.

Your team will see the new CRM system as something for them. They will see the experience as the management team helping them to solve their problems and make their lives easier. When the go-live date comes around, they will likely be excited and will be far more engaged, boosting the adoption process!

The Solution – Engage every member of the team right from the start! This doesn’t mean putting everyone in the project team but taking time to understand their problems, frustration or additional requirements of a new system. Why not run a requirements workshop to get everyone involved?

Don’t Scrimp on the Onboarding

When it comes to getting up and running with your chosen CRM system, there’s a lot of different aspects to consider:

  • How will it be configured?
  • What data do I need to bring in?
  • Do I need to integrate?
  • How do my staff get trained?

That’s just a few, but taking on a system isn’t just selecting one and logging in. Especially if you have a high number of users, there’s a lot more to it. A major reason for CRM project failure? Trying to do it all on your own.

Failure to onboard properly leads to a severe dent in the potential benefits gained from a CRM system, or in some cases complete project failure. Why’s this? Put simply, people give up. Approaching a new system for the first time can be confusing and a lack of understanding leads to frustration. It’s also a massive learning experience that needs to be managed effectively; after all, you wouldn’t expect to just start driving your first car without any sort of guidance, so why would driving your CRM system be any different?

Taking advantage of a Professional Services or a consultation team will give you the initial hand holding you need to get up and running correctly. Whether that is helping you order your data for successful import, customising the system to fit the way your business works or helping your team get familiar with the interface, it all helps!

Flexible packages are often available to suit all business needs (and budgets) – if you can get the start right, you’ll receive the benefits far sooner.

The Solution – Embrace onboarding! Find a solution that works for you. If the budget is tight, take a CRM Champion or Train the Trainer approach to ensure you still benefit from expert consultation.

Identifying Return on Investment

In many ways, taking on and implementing a CRM system is no different to any other business decision and needs to align with a number of factors. From fitting into your strategic goal, helping to hit and extend targets and ensuring you deliver the best possible service, the system needs to bring you a return on investment.

Where many CRM projects fail, in business terms, is that they haven’t got a metric to be compared against meaning it’s impossible to get a true gauge of success. With that said, we recommend taking a considered look at your ROI goals for CRM before taking the plunge.

So, what constitutes a good ROI from CRM?

Naturally, we want to consider the financial impact adoption will have on the business. CRM systems are commonly justified in the effects they have on sales activity, with many organisations seeing a boost in performance from system adoption. Financial ROI’s will likely be the big factor in determining the success of a roll out, but what else could you measure against?

Many organisations don’t consider some softer, more intangible ROI metrics. What about customer experience, employee satisfaction or collaborative productivity? Adopting systems which both fit your business and speed up your processes will have softer effects outside of the balance sheet.

But the good news? It’s likely that these softer effects are going to bring up your bottom line anyway in an indirect fashion. Happier staff leads to better productivity with a more satisfied customer base leading to a greater chance of repeat, ongoing business.

The Solution – CRM is a business decision like any other so ensure you monitor its effectiveness. Set ROI goals to gauge performance but remember it’s not all about the pure financials.

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Fitting the Bigger Picture

A fully featured CRM system will give you the ability to run various departments of your organisation, all from one place. Which is great, right? Reduced costs, collaborative working and efficiency all being the big wins here.

But does your CRM system fit into your wider business landscape and help contribute to the bigger picture? And how do you go about achieving this?

First, before you start your implementation project, you need to consider other systems and how (if required) they will integrate with and support your CRM. Does information need to be shared across both? Do any business processes span multiple systems? Are there any Infrastructure considerations to maximise performance?

Asking these sorts of questions will definitely raise some initial questions; after all, we all use email to communicate, do you need integration there? Integrations are becoming more and more common with API and Webhook technology now front and centre of software projects.

With those questions answered, it may be time to start thinking about rollout and how this will look. A big failure that we have seen many times is companies trying to do too much too fast. A phased rollout approach is always the best option, especially when rolling out a system across multiple departments.

Put simply, the needs of one will be different to the other. It’s important to tailor each part of a system to the specific users rather than taking a wham bang approach. Working in a phased manner, also helps foster the Change Management process, something we explored at point two.

The Solution – Sometimes you need to zoom out to see the bigger picture. CRM implementation is big change, so ensure you consider your wider technology landscape and take a phased approach to ensure the best results.

James Elliot
James Elliot
Was asked (told) to put something engaging in here but apparently 'Putting the elation in Customer Relations' was too cheesy!? Soo.....
I'm a Business Development Manager at OpenCRM, working with new and existing customers to maximise their business through our bespoke CRM solution. Outside of the 9-5, I enjoy reading, film & TV and playing a range of sports.