CRM Critical Success Factor 1: Executive Sponsorship

An explanation of the importance that the executive team play within a successful CRM project.

Why is CRM Executive Sponsorship a Critical Success Factor?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) projects can be complex and costly endeavours. Without a well-defined strategy and vision, these projects can fail to deliver their intended outcomes. Therefore, having a strong executive sponsor to oversee the CRM project is essential for its success.

Vision and Communication

The first critical role of an executive sponsor is to set out the vision and goals of the CRM project in line with the overall company plans and strategy. This requires a deep understanding of the company’s goals, its market, and its customers. By doing so, the executive sponsor can ensure that the project aligns with the company’s broader objectives, and the CRM project can help achieve these objectives.

Furthermore, communication plays a key role in ensuring that everyone understands the purpose and value of the CRM project. Employees need to know why the project is being undertaken, what the goals and vision are, and how it will affect them directly. By answering these questions, opening up communication channels within the organization, and involving employees, the executive sponsor can make employees more likely to buy into the project and contribute to its success.

Assistance with Change

A CRM project often brings about significant changes to an organisation, and executives have a role in understanding and mitigating the impact of those changes. The executive sponsor needs to identify and address any potential resistance to change and reduce the potential fear of change by employees. By being involved in the project and understanding the potential changes, the executive sponsor can assist in making the change management process more efficient.

Critical Decisions

Executives have a responsibility to make critical decisions during the lifetime of a project. There will be prioritisations to be made, decisions about budget, resourcing, and other issues. However, if the project team has a clear understanding of the goals, priorities, and requirements that are driving the CRM project, they will be able to make decisions more effectively. Additionally, 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.

Executive Sponsor Responsibilities

The day-to-day implementation and ongoing running of the CRM system will reside with the project team and system owner. However, the Executive Sponsor/Owner should 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 on functional priorities for implementation, ensuring goals, objectives, plans are well communicated, and ensuring progress successes are communicated to the executive team effectively. Additionally, the executive sponsor should arbitrate significant or issues changes raised by the project, recognize and celebrate milestone successes with everyone, provide on-going support and incentives to the continued use and development of the system, and continually review the CRM system against evolving business plans and situations.

Celebrating Success

Finally, 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. By recognizing the achievements of the team, the executive sponsor can foster a sense of accomplishment, pride, and a positive attitude towards the project. This can lead to greater engagement and commitment from the team towards the CRM project.

An executive sponsor plays a critical role in the success of a CRM project. From setting the vision and goals to assisting with change management, making critical decisions, and celebrating success, an executive sponsor can ensure that the CRM project aligns with the company’s broader objectives, and the CRM project can help achieve these objectives.

Next Steps

Click here to read Critical Success Factor 2: Implementation Approach

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