There are a variety of reasons that CRM fails. Generally speaking, a lack of planning is a sure fire way to fail. One of the critical parts of the planning process is identifying the risk of low user adoption. A solid change management program must be implemented to address this before it ever appears on the radar screen.

Just about every business out there has multiple departments. These are also referred to as functional silos and each is tasked with certain functions. Over time, these functions cement themselves into the ownership mentality taken on by each employee in that silo (department). This ownership complex can result in turf wars if it is threatened or invaded.

Silo workers are walled off from the other silos in the organization. That’s why they are often referred to as silos. The work performed is always within the silo. But many CRM initiatives attempt to tear down the walls and force these workers to suddenly work together, with a new focus on the customer (not their internal process). Maybe there’s an example out there where this has worked, but I haven’t heard about it.

A simple plan for change

When the CRM change is coming, the C-Level executives need to be out there letting the organization know that the customer will become the center of their business activities. And the CEO needs to be leading the cheer. But change management is more than that.

You need to build a cross-functional team of key players for a couple of reasons. First, no single person has a unique and comprehensive perspective on how to re-work an organization. And second, the inclusion of these key players handles the turf ownership issue because they become owners of the new process as they help identify it. Keeping them focused is a challenge, but make sure they are reminded that every consideration must benefit the customer first and then benefit the company. If it passes that test, existing turf battles are harder to mount.

Your team should consist of not only department managers, but also key customer facing line staff that can give you deeper perspective. Here are players I would recommend:

  • Sales Manager and two key sales reps (one star one average)
  • Marketing Manager and two subordinates
  • Customer Service Manager and two CSRs
  • IT Manager
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Possibly a representative from Manufacturing or production if that makes sense.

You may need to rotate others in and out as the program evolves, but these key players will be the core of the team. You will also need a team leader. If there is someone within your company that can survive this process, use them. Otherwise, it might make sense to hire a consultant with experience in change management to be objective and keep things moving.