CRM Vision – Why You Need One And How Far You Should Take It (Part 1)

5 minute read

In the English dictionary, there are at least 9 different definitions of the word "vision". In commercial language, it is often used as an expression to illustrate where we want our business to be. It is our anticipation of a future state where everything works as we conceived it.

Is Spending Time On High-Level Definitions Superfluous?

From a CRM vision perspective, benefits should be articulated at the company level. This means that you should define in plain terms what value the company will enjoy when the implementation is successful. While it may look superfluous to spend your valuable time on high-level definitions, it is exactly the contrary. The well-articulated goals will help on many fronts. They will be the foundations used by your program team and business sponsor when deciding about priorities. They will help you develop a good communications plan. They will support you in articulating the program benefits on the next level: advantages of the specific user groups.

When defining the CRM vision, it may be tempting to ask the question, “What do we expect to achieve?”. To a question like this, you can have various answers. For instance, you may answer with, “We want to retire our current system”. Or you may say: “We want to have our customer data in one place”, or state that “We want to be able to track the activities of our salespeople.” While all these responses are valid, there are a few problems with them. First, they answer the question from one specific angle only. Second, they do not quite articulate the benefits for the entire company.

Focus On The Company’s Benefits

So, instead of trying to challenge what the CRM program should achieve, ask the question, “How will the company work differently when we have the new CRM in place?”. The response to this question should address external and internal ways of working. The vision should look into how interactions with customers and colleagues will be different. It should address how key business processes will change and how that will impact the performance of the company.

As customer relationship management systems lay at the heart of at least the sales, marketing, and customer care processes, decisions for the supporting software technology are long-term. Unless we talk about a greenfield implementation at a startup, CRM projects are complex, too. Legacy systems, existing business processes, and data are all impacted by a CRM roll-out. Systems have to be retired or integrated; processes have to be implemented or reworked, and data has to be cleansed and migrated. This is time-consuming and tedious work that comes along with significant investments.

As we have major costs and efforts on the table, before you launch a CRM implementation, it is vital to understand how far the company wants to go with the program. You need to understand what role the CRM should play in supporting the business, in other words, what the CRM Vision is.

Maturity Levels Of Your CRM Vision

How well this future state is defined can be different company by company. There are five levels that illustrate the maturity of the CRM Vision. These maturity levels differ based on where the program focus is, where the ownership stands, to what degree the roadmap is defined, what level of management engagement you have and how well you document all this.

Let’s take a closer look at this in our next post.

Zsolt Keszler

Chief Transformation Officer

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CRM Vision - Why You Need One and How Far You Should Take It (Part 2)

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