Most strategic planning methodologies are built upon a triad of convergent processes that are a variation of a) evaluation and review, b) definition of goals/objectives and c) mapping route(s) to goals. This methodology has enjoyed certain success, but as applications evolve and can incorporate the softer side of automation and processing, strategic planning should also include another triumvirate of activities, d) visualization of the end-state, e) study of current situation and identify gaps to end state and f) identify actions that will close the gap.
Strategic Planning Overview for CRM Projects
Strategic plans typically look five or more years into the future and differ from tactical plans, which look two to four years into the future.
The early triad of activities for strategic planning, mentioned above, were appropriate for fixed solutions, and for expensive development projects that had limitations due to technologies and/or funding. With the advent of online CRM, it is possible and prudent to include triumvirate strategies to expedite deployment of new functionality available with on-demand CRM/ERP solutions.
There are a number of possible ways to identify barriers to success, and also some best practices that help to address these barriers. The following pages provide a good general reference for on-demand CRM deployments from a vendor's perspective.
Incorporate End-State Strategies for Successful CRM
1.Clearly define the objective, or end-state.
Identify major disconnects in technology, embrace and manage changes wholeheartedly.
2.Assessment and analysis.
Pursue change and improvement, challenge old policy/procedures that can be changed or eliminated as part of process automation and improvement. Identify technical and procedural redundancies and clearly identify gaps.
Plan to identify and capture information that supports use of end-state metrics.
3.Honestly evaluate the feasibility of the end-state objective
Identify questions that help clarify the end-state vision. Establish roles and responsibilities for evaluation input. Consider the barriers to change and closing the gaps.
Eliminate traditional rituals in planning that strangle opportunities to leap forward. Truly address impediments to customer service and increased revenue. Ensure Strategy and Tactics are in line with desired end-state.
Identify Benefits: What to be expected from implementing a CRM solution?
Plan Actions: What will be done?
Identify/Delegate Responsibilities : Who will be the corporate sponsor and who will be in charge of the project?
Scheduling: When will the project start? When will it be completed?
Resourcing: Identify what is needed: people, money, information, other resources?
Establish Metrics & Set Rewards: How will progress be measured and reported?
Contingency Planning: What will be done if results fall short?
Strategic Planning Pitfalls
There are several activities that come into play when deploying new processes/solutions. They typically fall into the categories of strategy and tactics. In general, strategic plans can fail for several reasons: inappropriate strategy, conflicting tactics and poor implementation. The strategy is the high level plan and the tactics are basically the actions that happen to support and deploy elements of the strategic plan. Do good work on the triad and triumvirate planning components and have good contingencies in place to work around problems.
- Strategic Difficulties
- Failure to define the desired end states correctly
- Analysis irrelevant to the desired end state(s)
- Lack of creativity in identifying possible strategies
- Poor gap analysis
Conflicting Tactical Activities
In preparing and delivering components of the strategic plan, it is important to ensure tactics used do not undermine strategy. It often happens innocuously, often in an effort to maintain the status quo, or from a lack of information, but these tactics can gain purchase, and pull the strategic plan apart.
- Actions taken/not taken because of perceived threats to established processes
- Missed opportunities or compromises because of resistance/misunderstanding
- Too many ad-hoc activities/actions by too many people from within the organization
- Actions taken/not taken no longer support the strategic plan
End State Disappointments
Difficulties delivering because of lack of resources/abilities due to over estimation of resources and or time and/or loss of senior management support.
- Inaccurate forecasting of financial requirements
- Failure to manage expectations and coordinate tactical
- Ineffective change management strategies
Use Professional CRM Services ? Before and After Deployment
There are many components to delivering a CRM solution that is often the most appropriate, and best, business solution to improve cash flow and position for future markets. Taking the time to consult with your CRM solution provider is critical to a successful deployment because you want them to understand and be participants in delivering the desired end-state.
Have a set of measurable improvements in mind that can be used as both deliverables and to determine the success of the deployment in business terms, not just technical.
Post Deployment Metrics
Some possible metrics that can be used to track the success of a CRM deployment might include the following:
- Track qualified leads generated at the same/lower cost
- Track ability/ease of converting prospects to customers
- Track the customer share growth
- Track customer loyalty and retention rates
- Track cost of selling/servicing customers
- Track employee efficiency/improvements/feedback, etc.
SalesboomTM is a world leader in delivery of on-demand Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. Salesboom has over 28,000 subscribers from the SMB sector, with 3,400 customers in over 154 countries around the world. Salesboom.com web services solutions drive innovation, enable business realignment, and enriches customer relations across the enterprise.
Katie Campbell, consultant and writer. Has worked in IT sector in government, private and non-profit sectors with focus on technology and knowledge management. Tracking new technologies in CRM like http://www.salesboom.com