CRM in Review

By Heather Baldwin

You’ve just completed a CRM implementation and everything seems to be going well. If you’ve been involved with leading the project, it’s time to sit back, congratulate everyone and move onto the next challenge, right? Not quite. Before you get too far away from the completion of the implementation, it is critical that you hold a post-mortem review to look at what went right, what went wrong and what lessons can be applied to future projects, says Francoise Tourniaire, a CRM consultant and author of Just Enough CRM (Pearson Education, 2003).

“Regardless of the outcome of the project, hold a post-mortem review with the project team with the goal of identifying both effective and ineffective practices, together with potential remedies, where possible,” says Tourniaire. “Because most CRM projects occur in phases, it’s quite likely that a similar team or subteam will get to work almost immediately on phase two, so the review will be useful right away.” Reviews should cover what went well and why in all areas of the project, and they should cover everything from the mundane, such as the location of the kickoff meeting, to the critical, such as the executive sponsor who stepped in to rescue the project in the third week, says Tourniaire. Reviews also should cover what didn’t go so well and why, and – most importantly – what could have been done to change it. The goal here is not to point fingers and to place blame, but to identify problems and pinpoint their causes and early warning signs so similar problems can be avoided in the future.

Finger pointing and aggressively attacking other team members is one of two problems that tend to crop up during these reviews. The other is “too much pussyfooting, where no one dares to be frank for fear of offending others,” Tourniaire says. When it’s time for the post mortem, project managers should have an idea of which problem is more likely to rear its head and conduct the meeting accordingly. “It’s useful to reinforce the theme of making the next project run more smoothly, rather than either assigning fault or making everyone feel good about the current project,” says the author.

Serious reviews can take several hours, but are well worth the time invested, particularly if they are done after each phase of the implementation. CRM projects have a reputation for being riddled with problems. If you can head off some of them by applying lessons learned from the previous phase, the entire project will have a much greater chance of success.