I recently visited a client that had installed and implemented their CRM system some years ago, under a previous marketing manager. That manager seemed to get value out of the system.
Now the client has a new marketing manager and the staff have changed almost completely since the CRM system was implemented. The new marketing manager correctly identified their CRM system as almost useless to his needs so was in the process of investigating alternate systems to buy and implement. The staff didn’t know how to use the current system – even to the point of not knowing how to perform a simple search to find a contact, and didn’t know what it was capable of.
So what went wrong?
The problem is obvious to people like myself who work in the IT industry but it is no so obvious to line managers whose daily tasks do not involve working with or maintaining information systems. The client had lost its intellectual property through management and staff turnover. It wasn’t that the system itself was broken in this instance.
It is very common to find managers trying to fix a people problem with an IT solution. But this approach never works. Managers are employed to manage. This means they must: 1. Clearly set the goals and direction for their staff and 2. Clear all the road blocks that might impede their staff from achieving those goals.
In this example two issues caused the problem. There was no handover from the previous marketing manager to the new manager as there was a large time gap between the old manager leaving and the new manager taking over. The other problem was the assumption that if a system is not delivering then it is the system at fault.
You cannot always get handover from the previous manager but it is worth asking for it. Try to keep an open mind until you find the root cause. Sometimes it will be that the system is broken but it’s a costly exercise to change systems only to find you haven’t fixed the problem or the problem recurs a couple of years later.
Let’s also not forget that the problems this client has, can occur without a management or staff change. You only have to neglect staff re-training, not use the system yourself to manage with, or fail to properly train new staff on the system in the first place. Then you suddenly find that staff are now using personal spreadsheets to help them do their work rather than using the corporate system, then saying “I cannot use this system as I cannot trust the data in it.” Unfortunately it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What can I do to avoid this?
- Use the system to help you manage. There is no better way to get staff to use a system than the knowledge that the data they maintain in the system is being used to measure their performance.
- Get regular (e.g. yearly) update training for staff that is focussed on the business processes they use it for. Also get updates from time to time from your friendly consultant on what else you might use your system for.
- Use the yearly update training to question whether the system is still meeting your needs and why. It could be your business needs have changed so you need to make changes to the system to reflect this.
The initial investment in purchasing and implementing a new CRM system is significant and this investment should be protected it at all possible.
If you find that your existing CRM system is useless and needs replacing you should contact Professional Advantage (yes this is an advertisement) as we have many years of experience helping organisations get the best from their IT and business process dollar.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and Microsoft Dynamics CRM here.