Blueprints for CRM Success

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Faisal Hoque claims that businesses need better blueprints if they want IT initiatives to succeed. Hoque makes a simple analogy: "If you want to build a house, you don't start with the kitchen sink, you start with a blueprint." Hoque, author of The Alignment Effect: How to Get Real Business Value Out of Technology (Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2002), and founder and CEO of Enamics Inc., claims that businesses need to visualize and strategize their goals before making any IT commitments. "Most projects are driven by specific technologies or simple business process optimization strategies," Hoque says. "Business goals should drive technology implementations--you set a goal and then figure out how technology can help attain that goal." For a CRM initiative to succeed, Hoque says, everyone in a company needs to work together with vendors to ensure that the business goals of the whole company are not lost in a sea of technology implementations. "It's about taking steps to materialize a crystal clear vision of what you want to accomplish before you go about acquiring new technology," he says. Joanie Rufo, research director of customer management strategies at AMR research, makes a similar point in her study "CRM: Inflicting Pain or Profit." But adds that the business goals must serve two masters. In the study Rufo posits: "The people within the organization who buy and implement CRM systems must play a difficult dual role. They constantly need to consider the global benefits of CRM and communicate these to the executive level in order to gain funding and approval for projects. However, they must also build the system itself from the bottom up, creating benefits for individual end users, such as sales reps, knowledge workers, customers, or partners, or risk leaving end users unhappy and CRM information repositories devoid of valuable information." "Sometimes a company does not even need new technology to realize its goals," Hoque says. "Clients have looked at their CRM platforms and bought nothing, but rather optimized the technology they already had in place." Michael Doane, vice president of professional services strategies at META Group, echoes this notion. "More and more service revenues are not vendor-related and are based on firms helping companies reemploy existing platforms to achieve better CRM ends." Doane also says that services firms that have not adopted this new type of business strategy may not survive, and those firms pushing process over technology are likely to gain the majority of new business.
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