Why is CRM Executive Sponsorship a Critical Success Factor?

“CRM should be implemented in support of the business goals, aims and strategy. The Executive Team should be actively involved in driving CRM as a strategic tool to help achieve these objectives.” – Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

Some of the key reasons why we think CRM Executive Sponsorship is absolutely a requirement within a CRM project are:

CRM Executive Sponsorship

Vision

It is important to set out the vision and goals of the CRM project in line with the overall company plans and strategy.  Who better to do this than the same people responsible for those company plans and strategy?

Communication

Communication plays a key role when ensuring that everyone understands why the CRM project is being undertaken. Put yourself in the shoes of your employees and really answer their questions:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What are the goals and vision of the CRM project?
  • How will it affect me directly?
  • What changes will need to be made?
  • How can I contribute to the project?

By answering these questions and opening up communication with the organisation you will find that the organisation itself will be much more likely to input to the project and less resistant or worried about the inherent changes that will come.

Assist with Change

CRM is often a catalyst for positive change and executives have a role in understanding and mitigating the impact of those changes and reducing the potential fear of change.

Critical Decisions

Executives have a responsibility to be ready and prepared to make critical decisions when needed and throughout the lifetime of a project.  There will be prioritisations to be made; there will be decisions about budget, resourcing etc.

However, if the project team have a clear remit, have a clear understanding of the goals, priorities, etc. that are fuelling the CRM requirements, they will be far more able to make more decisions themselves.  In addition, they will be better able to identify appropriate options around any key decision and convey those back to the Executive Sponsor in such a manner to allow the decision process to be quick and not hold up the project.

What Does CRM Executive Sponsorship Really Mean?

The day to day implementation and on-going running of the CRM system will reside with the project team and system owner, however, the Executive Sponsor/Owner does have key tasks and responsibilities such as:

  • Obtaining overall Executive agreement on goals for the system
  • Involvement in partner/system selection, business case and sign off
  • Agreeing the functional priorities for implementation
  • “Beating the drum” – ensuring goals, objectives, plans are well communicated – answering the question; Why are we doing this?
  • Ensuring progress successes are communicated to the executive team effectively
  • Arbitrating on significant or issues changes raised by the project
  • Recognising and celebrating milestone successes with everyone
  • Providing on-going support and incentives to the continued use and development of the system
  • Continual review of the CRM system against evolving business plans and situations

I have seen on a number of occasions the exec team walk away once a decision to go with CRM has been made.  It might be that they have great faith in the project team, which is a nice feeling for a while for the project team perhaps, but when something goes wrong the team flounders.  Not wishing to disturb the exec, or not disturbing until too late, and the situation gets out of hand.

The CRM Executive Sponsors are an important part of the CRM project team, just with less day to day involvement.

And finally, celebrate!!

Celebrating success is an invaluable thing to do, as most business management gurus will tell you.  It can make a massive difference to the team who have worked hard, into the evenings, perhaps over weekends to have their labours recognised.  CRM is best implemented in phases.  What better way of ensuring the success of the next phase than by celebrating the success of the current phase.  And please, if you are the sponsoring exec don’t promise but not deliver; lip service does nothing but demoralises a team.

Click here to read Critical Success Factor 2: Implementation Approach.

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