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Avoiding the CRM Failure: SSIS Framework


I have had my fair share of CRM Implementation failures and successes. Learning from my experience as a consultant and from the experience of fellow consultants and analysts, I put forward a framework to improve the success rate of the implementations. The framework, called the SSIS Framework, is an advanced version of a checklist for a successful implementation strategy. It lists the phases and the functions that the implementation team should take during the phases. 

The SSIS Framework:


Many organizations grow around their core business and processes. Every time a new offshoot to the core business comes, it is built on the existing framework. Most often the new process is designed and formulated the team working on it. As the time passes, every team develops its own processes and protocol of carrying out business. Sometimes similar functions carried out by two different teams will have two entirely different processes to achieve a similar result.

In the Simplify Phase, the ineffective processes (redundant/ non-value adding) are identified and removed. This will clear the system of the “non-required” processes. The inefficient processes (consuming too many resources, even though achieving the desired result) are worked upon. While working upon the inefficient processes, the BPR activities are initiated and the new processes are put in place.

In all the activities above, the end users and customers are involved in indentifying the requirements so that there is little re-work later. The result of the Simplify phase is an organization with fewer and less complex processes. This makes the system leaner, faster and easier to manage.


In the Standardize Phase, the processes should be checked for variability. If similar processes have considerable variability, it has to be reduced to optimum level. Standardizing of similar processes should be done across business units and teams. This will give the customer a feel of similar treatment even if he is handled by different teams or units. Similarly, the Process Owners and the team members should have similar functions at same levels.

An important point to be remembered here is that the variability of the processes has not to be eliminated, but, is to be brought to an optimum level. Even when the processes are standardized, there should be enough space to accommodate slight variability as and when required. For example, the customers should be segmented and the process should be customized for the segment, still keeping some bandwidth for personalization within the segment.


Once the processes across the organization have been simplified and standardized, start the Implementation Phase. Divide the implementation into logical and manageable phases. This means do not take the Big Bang approach. In the case of implementing CRM as a strategic framework, the feedback from all the stakeholders at each step is important. It is better to consume some time at this phase than later revert the changes. Change in the design will be a deterrent to meeting the project targets both in terms of costs and time lines. This will reduce the efforts in Stabilization phase as well.

Plan a gradual phase-wise transformation so that the results are visible. No visible results for a long time (e.g. in the case of a big bang approach) can make the client and the stakeholders restless and anxious.


When the new processes are well laid out, the system is up and running, look for kinks and smoothen them out. A major task in this phase is to take the end user feedback. This is important because it is the end user who becomes the face of the organization’s CRM initiatives to the customer. No amount of money invested in CRM will do any good until the front end agents take the initiatives in their daily interactions with the customers. Take the end user and customer feedback. Once all the issues have been identified, go for a low scale second iteration. Go through all the three (Simplify, Standardize and Implement) phases and again Stabilize. The value addition activities are an ongoing process and will continue far into the future.

 Its CMR and not CRM: Implement it well!

The buzzword today in CRM implementation circles is; “CRM is no more CRM; it is Customer Managed Relationships (CMR)”. This gives an equal importance to requirements of the customers (internal and external to the Enterprise). Unless the internal customers are satisfied, the system cannot be expected to work smoothly and unless the system works to satisfy the external customers, its motive is not achieved. The CRM Implementation today is a combination of the CRM strategy implementation with human beings and CRM Enterprise package. The coordination between the capabilities and requirements of the two is one of the most important factors in determining the success of the initiative. The strategy team, the process owners, the end users, the customers and the System Integrators (EA package implementation team) have to work in close co-ordination to achieve the desired results. Resources lost in a failed implementation not only affect the Enterprise and other stakeholders, but also the customers who lose on better service that could have been provided with the implementation.

Thus, keeping the CRM Simple yet maintaining the effectiveness and the efficiency with coordination of all the stakeholders is the key to success in a CRM implementation. It is tough but not difficult to achieve. The resources spent initially on the implementation are more than compensated by the benefits received later.

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