Big Bang a Bust

By Heather Baldwin

For the greatest probability of CRM success, think short-term, says Deepak Sircar, senior vice president and general manager of the eCRM group at Relizon. Sircar has been advising clients on implementations of CRM and its precursors for 15 years and says one of the most common mistakes he sees is the conviction that a big-bang approach, in which a solution is installed enterprise-wide at the outset, will solve a company’s customer relationship problems. In reality, that all-at-once, company-wide installation theory is likely only to compound the problems. Instead, says Sircar, think small, go for short-term success and your chances of a win are much improved.

“The thinking used to be, ‘Let’s spend $20 million to install a program enterprise-wide,’ but I’ve never seen that work. If it does, it’s luck,” says Sircar. The problem: it’s such a huge undertaking that there’s no grass-roots support, the technology gets so complex it takes an army of IT experts to sort it out, and it takes so long – usually at least 18 months – that even its most fervent supporters can lose enthusiasm. And after 18 months or more of installation effort, the problem the software originally was intended to solve may have changed.

Sircar favors starting small by installing a program to address a specific problem in a specific department. Say, for instance, a sales manager wants to better manage the leads that flow in to his team. “We would implement a program in that department so they could see good returns right up front for very little investment,” Sircar says. “The company would get user buy-in and cultural acceptance of the software. Sales would champion the system and other departments would see the results that can be achieved. Then you could move into a larger system later when it’s needed.”

Sircar expects to see results from a small-scale implementation within three months. “The key is to underpromise and overdeliver” on those results. You won’t go wrong, says Sircar, if you install CRM “in small chunks to build credibility and momentum, and grow from there.”