Successful CRM Projects: 6 Pitfalls You Can (And Should) Avoid

CRM projects are complex. They affect several business areas and numerous stakeholders. On the way to a successful completion of a CRM project there will be many challenges. To avoid failure, you should consider the following recommendations. The expectations to a CRM system are high. So, why do the solutions often not deliver what companies expect? Moreover, in various areas such as usability, performance, automation or general added value, satisfaction is far below expectations.
CRM projects are complex. They affect several business areas and numerous stakeholders. On the way to a successful completion of a CRM project there will be many challenges. To avoid failure, you should consider the following recommendations.

The expectations to a CRM system are high. So, why do the solutions often not deliver what companies expect? Moreover, in various areas such as usability, performance, automation or general added value, satisfaction is far below expectations.

What are the reasons for this discrepancy?

  1. Unclear or unrealistic ideas
    Often the management does not deal with the goals and consequences of a CRM project realistically. As a result, the perceived benefits far exceed what the system is ultimately able to achieve.

    What can you do?
    • Anchor the CRM strategy and CRM goals in your corporate strategy. Create awareness: CRM is an initiative of strategic importance and reach.
    • Provide adequate human and material resources so you can carry out the project with sufficient know-how and a roadmap.
    • VEnsure that top management visibly supports all CRM activities.
    • Measure the success of CRM activities in order to adapt processes and strategies at an early stage.
  2. CRM is reduced to a marketing and sales issue
    Topics that affect the entire company are often assigned to single areas. A fact that results in a fundamental discrepancy between what the CRM project can achieve and what it actually achieves when reduced to single areas (see also point 1).
    Customer processes do not only take place in marketing and sales. Nevertheless, the topic of CRM is regularly reduced to these areas. As a consequence, usually only parts of the customer management can be used effectively. In addition, sales and marketing do not have an overview of other areas in which CRM can be used efficiently (e.g. service).

    What can you do?
    • Integrate all relevant business areas into the CRM project. This not only includes all customer-related areas such as marketing, sales and customer service. Also IT, logistics, product development, etc. are elementary as those areas do carry out customer-centric processes as well.
    • Organize all customer processes across divisions and functions. This prevents silos and gaps in the customer experience.
  3. The initial scope of the overall CRM project is too broad
    Big bang and immediately. Those who share this way of thinking usually do not achieve the desired result. In addition, the immediate implementation of a CRM project as a whole requires enormous resources, which further increases the risks if problems arise.

    What can you do?
    • Prioritize sub-projects with the highest effectiveness. In other words: which areas or processes can benefit most from the new CRM project? Which of them can be implemented with a low risk?
    • These sub-projects serve as ideal pilots. The knowledge gained can be shared with colleagues in other projects. The influence on the acceptance and success rate increases enormously.
  4. Employees are insufficiently integrated
    Top management should control CRM projects. This does not mean that employees should not be integrated in the planning, decision and implementation. On the contrary: Your employees are the ones who should ultimately use the new applications and processes. So it brings disadvantages not to involve them in the process right from the beginning.

    What can you do?
    • Develop solutions together with all employees/stakeholders.
    • Use change management, especially for larger projects. This way, you can integrate all relevant stakeholders at the early planning stage.
    • Communicate project progress regularly. Be transparent and receptive to questions and feedback.
    • Establish a consistent, customer-oriented corporate culture.
  5. Modern software should support outdated processes too quickly
    Often new technology is supposed to solve long known problems overnight. However, the causes of the problems are usually not the tools used or other technical aids. It is rather the inefficient processes or gaps in existing procedures that are responsible. Ambiguities in the organizational regulations, such as unclear or inconsistently defined responsibilities, are also among the challenges in everyday work.

    What can you do?
    • Develop a business concept before you evaluate and implement IT solutions.
    • Always make sure that business requirements take precedence over technical-infrastructural aspects, according to the motto "software follows strategy". In other words: if the new software fits perfectly into the infrastructure, but cannot support processes necessary for your business goals, then it is not the right software for you.
  6. CRM is understood as a project to optimize internal processes and existing products and services
    CRM is often reduced to the technical aspect. The project serves to optimize individual processes. The big picture cannot be seen. However, CRM should always be seen as an opportunity to bring a change in thinking or in the entire company.

    What can you do?
    • The customer benefit should always be the main issue of the CRM project. What benefit and impact do the optimization of individual processes and/or products and services have for the customer?
    • Show a willingness to change yourself and your company. Allow innovations.
    • Customer centricity is the keyword: Align all decisions and activities consistently with the customer perspective
    • Permanently adapt concepts and system design as evaluations and processes to changing external conditions, such as customer requirements.
In the past 15 years, 2BCS AG with offices in Zurich and St. Gallen has accompanied many CRM projects. Dozens of companies have benefited from the experience of our consultants, who were able to identify the above-mentioned recommendations for a successful project completion. Every project is as unique as the customer is. Our consultants will be happy to support your CRM project and will completely adapt to your individual needs.


Who is 2BCS?

2BCS AG was founded in 2006 with offices in St. Gallen and Zürich. The company, solely owned by Dr. Martin Brogli, offers process-oriented, independent consulting services for digitalization. 2BCS AG creates application strategies, carries out evaluations in the ERP, CRM and MES environment and offers implementation services. To date, more than 250 medium-sized industrial and commercial enterprises in Switzerland and abroad have been advised. According to NZZ, 2BCS AG is the largest and most successful independent evaluation and implementation consulting company in Switzerland. The secrets of success are competent consultants contributing their knowledge, experiences and skills to the customers.

About Author

Dr. Martin Stadelmann
Dr. Martin Stadelmann is an expert in future-oriented customer management and has been accompanying companies of all industries on their way to a holistic CRM for almost 20 years. This combines technical, process-related and strategic requirements with the possibilities of technical implementation - in the sense of realizing a comprehensive customer experience and consistently digital orchestration of the "customer functions" marketing, sales and customer service.
In addition to his main activity as a management consultant, Dr. Ing. Martin Stadelmann Lecturer at the University of St. Gallen and co-founder (2002) of the executive degree program "Master of Advanced Studies in CRM" at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), where he lectures on various core topics of the offered CRM courses is.