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How to do a CRAP CRM implementation

This is the defining “How To” for senior executives who want to ensure their CRM implementation FAIL with a carefully deployed CRAP CRM implementation. We must guarantee that every stone has been left unturned in the avoidance of CRM success.

Yes you are reading this right. These are the ways to ensure that you FAIL in your CRM implementation. It seems to be a popular practice so let’s share the experience.

Below we have charted the ways in which you should unfocus the mind of the implementation team and the senior management to ensure the uniqueness or the internal “competitive advantage” of your organisation is preserved by ensuring that the CRM implementation is a total cock-up.

This is a de Bono exercise in reversal and is defined by the following areas of relevance:-

1.                  Stakeholders, who?

2.                  Strategy?

3.                  Process, Paper and People

4.                  All praise to IT

5.                  Legacy Data

6.                  Planning: using CRAP Methodology

7.                  Branding

8.                  Over-Complication

9.                  Deploy Worst Practice

10.              Software Selection

11.              ROI

12.              Politics

What is the point of a perfect CRM implementation? Why should you make your organisation pretty much the same as your competitors’, commoditise your products and services and spend a lot of money in the process?

 Let this be THE defining document in ensuring that you make a complete horlicks of the whole CRM exercise, ensuring that tthe cultural distinctiveness and heritage of the organisation lives on undisturbed.

 If you can identify with the 10 areas as defined here you are well on your way to a splendid and heroic CRM failure !

1.                   Stakeholders, Who?

Don’t bother working out who the stakeholders are. It’s not any of their business. It’s your business and it works, so be careful who is involved in the strategy, design, planning, and implementation or shaping of the CRM future. It’s best kept a big secret. We want “a CRM” so let’s be aggressive about deadlines. Time is money after all.

Don’t include the operatives, or people charged with maintaining the system. Their involvement could slow the whole implementation process down and anyhow we just want to get the box ticked don’t we?

Specifically don’t include the customer as a stakeholder, heaven forbid! That really will slow everything down and anyhow you want the improvement to be completely transparent to the customer.

The only people who need to know are the CEO the CFO and the CIO and perhaps not even all of them. Make the decision and press the button.

Don’t let CRM be done to you, do it to them first.

2.                   Strategy

Look you’ve just got to get on with it OK and anyhow the simplest strategies are the best. So let’s do one on the back of a fag-packet and chat it over in the pub with the software company salesman.

Business cohesion and a full and shared understanding of the future operating model of your business will come about over the course of the project as the software rollout impacts various parts of the company.

You don’t want to go disrupting current business practices by determining the As-Is or the To-be operating models, so best to do it intuitively and let the software salesman’s vision be our vision.

Yeah! That’ll do it, let him create our vision after all they’re the experts.

3.                   Process,  Paper and People

Don’t think that CRM is a change project that cuts across most of your business! Far from it, CRM is generally only to be found in Sales or Customer Service, and should not be integrated between the two or anywhere else, it only confuses matters. Leave the rest of the business alone; contain it in Sales or perhaps Customer Service.

We can use CRM to rewrite or replace ancient processes. It’s about time that they were  changed. CRM comes with it’s own embedded master-plan of processes (vanilla) so install that into workstations and bingo instant BPR!  We like defined processes it’s what makes our company tick and besides if we have defined them we understand our business completely. The more defined processes the better! Forget what that General Sir Mike Jackson said, he was a soldier and what does he know? Process is an overhead and depletes resources? Yeah right?

We could do some thorough bit of process analysis and then produce a programme which “paths the cow-path” and automates every nuance and element of existing processes. Yes? Sounds perfect!

Ooh! hang on, that takes a lot of time, analysis paralysis and all that. Never mind it is something we have to do for all sorts of reasons, ISO9001 and shelfware initiatives being two of them. So we are going to have to do it anyhow, so let’s run a huge AS-IS process analysis and then we can do a bit of that brown-paper exercise stuff to see if we can do anything to improve the situ. After all what we are aiming to do is make it easier for our staff by making things automated, so let’s work out what they’re doing now and just automate that. Even better let's buy a CRM system programme it and then NOT tell anybody so they cant reject it! Perfect, sounds like a plan to me.

4.                   All praise to IT

CRM is an IT thing right? So leave it to the IT crowd to put it all in. They understand how the company works implicitly, they put all the networks in so they must. Anyhow our CIO doesn’t like to be challenged; he is the all powerful great guru of wizardry in our company and what he says goes.

When we have bought a CRM software thing we are more than halfway to CRM heaven. After all the Software companies have overtaken the whole CRM agenda so it must be just about IT, it stands to reason otherwise they wouldn’t make such great claims.

It must be a bit like putting in a new version of Windows like Vista in. The IT guys will come down and wander around anointing people and their workstations with the secret code to immediate and newfound Customer Relations success; Simple.

CRM software is the golden bullet to Customer Relationship success. Just buy and implement: Bingo.

If it goes off the tracks a bit just hire some similarly experienced software guys, that’ll overcome the project deficiencies- I mean unexpected anomalies. If not then hire some more expensive software guys from a branded company. It’ll all work out, have faith!

5.                   Legacy Data

The organisation is full of data, it’s everywhere… which is a good thing. It means that people are doing stuff and so we don’t have to start from scratch. As we know CRM is a device to process data so we need to feed it with some, and we have loads. OK it’s a bit scattered and some of it’s a bit tired and perhaps difficult to access. But no matter let’s tip it all into the CRM system that we’re going to build, once we have determined what brand of software that is first (very important)  Once we have all the data in one place we have a single view of the customer but data can wait, it’s a low level detail thing and might snarl up our creative blue sky thoughts and visions.

Data protection act? That surely won’t apply.


6.                   Planning: Using CRAP Methodology

Everybody needs a methodology and we have here the latest iteration of a great methodology. The Customer Relations at Premium (CRAP) Methodology ensures CRM failure, after all Homer Simpson said “Planning is the first step to failure”.

The CRAP Methodology: A proven route to CRM Failure.


How much is your brand actually worth? 
It features as goodwill in the accounts and sometimes large amounts of cash are written off to goodwill so it can’t  be worth much, in fact it must be a big liability. You just might want to ignore or better dispose of brands. Look, if it’s OK for Norwich Union to become Aviva and Abbey National to become Santander then it must be OK to just ditch the brand and heritage. Homogenisation and commoditisation must have significant benefits; they’re big impressive words so they must be good. A management consultant must have utilised them in a going-forward scenario.
What you want to do is copy the exact CRM project of your main competitor, even somebody not as good as you, but somebody who got a CRM before you did. They must be a direct competitor nevertheless, because any advantage you may have in terms of customer experience and internal process must be worthless they CRM’ed first so they must be better and more forward thinking than you.
It is important that you replicate their CRM system not only because they have spent more time on it and invested heavily in it’s development which you hope to short-cut by buying the same kit off the same supplier BUT because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and hell they have been in business nearly as long as you so they must be better. Just copy not only their CRM system but the whole of their customer experience to make the competition all that more exciting. Safety in numbers you know!

8.                   Over Complication
It is important that you do everything you can to satisfy the needs of the customer, particularly if you are in public service. No issue is too big to handle and the software guys tell me that everything can be done. So let’s have the whole lot if we are gong to do this at all, we might as well, let’s think big. So we’ll have a virtual contact-centre split across 2 no make that 4 main sites and have a few, say 14 drop-in centres, all of which are linked together to create the virtual centre so if a centre is a little light on work we can load-balance between the sites and do so even through technical failure or disaster.
CRM software packages are in their umpteenth evolution and have through organic development developed a massive degree of functionality. OK some of it is utterly irrelevant but nevertheless it’s so very clever so it must be able to do everything and likewise we should aim to do that too. The full functional specification of the software helps fertilise our active imaginations and create a beautiful vista, our CRM nirvana. The software company will help by building some special software to deliver some extra functional capability just for us, that’s great isn’t it? It shows the depth of their commitment to the project.
One it’s all done let’s get everybody to understand it all, well maybe not, as it’s pure creative genius they are not likely to, besides they don’t really need to. So what we need to do is get a wish-list of strategic objectives (we’ll call them, No Milestones that sounds better) which will evolve and grow as the programme rolls out and we understand the software salesman’s vision more. To get the full complexity configured, customised and installed and then train a suitable team of people to understand it all. We can’t afford to expand the IT department hugely as that will reduce our ROI so we’ll just train a bunch of likely suspects in other areas of the company and call them “super-users”. Some amphetamines might have to be acquired to keep them awake during the training, it always helps. Oh oh oh and we’ll want it in 14 languages too!

9.                   Deploy Worst Practice

Best practice sounds good doesn’t it? So let’s have that. It’s actually quite difficult to determine what is best practice, whether any practice is best, better, worse or just a practice. No, what we will determine to be the processes will be labelled best practice to make it sound like we are confident that it is market leading even if it isn’t, no matter let’s hire some people involved in our competitor’s operations and copy their best practice, that’s best.

We know that best practice has got to be the one that everybody else is doing, so let’s go for an SaaS solution.  If it works for them it must work for us! OK we’ve already discussed the brand value thing and it doesn’t matter that we have lost any chance of competitive advantage from internal or back office operations by simply copying our major competitors. So it’ll be down to the marketing team to be super creative and deliver any sort of competitive advantage, but they’re good at that. At least we have best practice.

When Tom Peters was asked “Why do all the cars in the world look so similar nowadays?”  he replied: because all the manufacturers have the same CAD software, even the French!

10.                Software Selection

CRM is software. It’s all about software. For ever and ever the power and the glory!

The most important thing about software is it’s the golden bullet: Buy CRM be CRM.

We can’t even have a challenging conversation with the CIO as he’s so mystical and omnipresent so what chance have we of understanding that CRM might not be an IT project. It has been ordained that change comes from new IT so that’s where we’ll keep it. Let the same guys who implemented Vista do the CRM project. They know how to make it work.

Paradoxically whilst our brand is worthless and we are seeking to homogenise the industry the software brand is all powerful and their brand is nearly god-like. Who dares challenge the Gods of IT? Make your CRM software selection carefully, select only the true faith or be cast into the pit forever.

Their minions will tempt you with bundled packages and show you the carnal delights of how it could be in your organisation. Get thee behind me!


11.                ROI

What is ROI?

Random Operational Information?

Rubbish Office Information?

Ruthlessly Officious Inculcation?

Retro-engineered Organisational Invention?

Reversed Organic Intuition?

Rasputin’s Offspring’s Intrigues? 

Reckless Opinion Incarnation?

Requires Open Imagination?

Whatever it is it’s important as the CFO won’t sanction anything it until he’s bought a black hat and sat and looked at some very busy but nicely presented spreadsheets. The more ingenious the elements of the spreadsheet and the bigger the number they are the more credible they are.

Numbers are based on costs and returns and are necessarily and obviously very approximate. No matter, let’s get them in there. Remember investments can go up or down but preferably not in a straight line and best to be annualised. When these two meet that’s when ROI occurs. Software be praised; and from that he can work out how much of the net worth of the company can be invested. Costs are of course more important than the ability to raise revenues, they are also more comfortable as estimations so we need to err on the conservative side in ROI. Let’s make sure that we don’t focus just on the opportunity to drive up revenues.

Likewise so called Soft Benefits, things like “It’s just the right thing to do”, “we need it” or “our customers will like it”, or “it’ll enable marketing” or “the Salesmen will like it” can’t be easily turned into numbers, unlike the guesses we have made for IT infrastructure, configuration and customisation costs, so we’d best just ignore those softer things.

Apparently a number of other colours of hat were available but black suits the seriousness of the mood and anyhow it matches the CFO’s Mercedes. The CEO’s secretary suggested that he should try the other hats, in particular the yellow one before going for the black hat but that’s not his style.

Also the concept of confidence intervals was frowned upon as it looked very much like real maths.

Time for some creative number creation, and box filling, it’s all very simple a bit like colouring in but with sexy numbers and not with crayons. After we have a ROI we can then quickly produce a Business Case which is a narrative to the ROI.

At the end of the programme there will also be an opportunity through the complexity of the ROI calculations to make them look accurate.

12.                Politics

Doing CRM is a big political issue. It involves significant financial and operational investment. It is a chance to be seen at the highest level, to show leadership, good judgement and commitment. For the corporation it is a chance to flex some big financial muscle, a bit like going into an estate agents and asking to see details of the biggest house in the window. Sounds good but forever after you will have the estate agents on your case about exciting new per-woperties that have just come on the market.

It’s a chance to associate with some of the biggest brands in the world with some of the biggest marketing budgets. There will be chances to go on elaborate trips, possible to exotic locations to see how others have used the software “successfully”. Sounds like good powerful sexy stuff.

Like being in the court of King Henry VIII it is a chance to do very well thank you, but also it is a golden opportunity to get locked in the Tower and have your head cut off. No way should you even be seen to select the Anne of Cleaves project when the CEO just doesn’t like it, unless everybody else is doing the same, and at that point it’s difficult to shine out. Tricky!

If the CEO fancies the Anne Boleyn version, and who wouldn’t, go along with that, remove all dissenters as heretics and have them burned at the stake. Once they are gone they are gone and they can’t be un-gone-d. So the trick is to understand the mind of the King and then be first to proclaim it as the new and great future without seeming like a toady and alienating all the other senior stakeholders by beating them to it. If it all goes pear-shaped duck! Tricky!

It doesn’t matter if the King’s decision is right or wrong until after the event when as the primary evangelist for the failed idea it was your fault for convincing the King. Tricky!

What was it they used to say? “Nobody gets fired buying IBM!” so whatever happens it’s always best to buy a CRM programme based on internal politics and not much else. Tricky.


Neil Willetts * 20 Parvis Road * West Byfleet * Surrey * England * KT146HA *
Phone: 0044 19323 47000*  Mobile: 0044 7710 560065 *

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