Why Companies Are Reevaluating ROI

These days there's no shortage of stories about how enterprises have dived in to CRM initiatives without first putting in place metrics to gauge the project's effectiveness. A new study, "Mastering the Moving Target," released today by consulting firm BearingPoint, says that many companies are actively reevaluating their CRM systems to drive more tangible value from the technology. Surprisingly, the report says the reevaluation projects are not necessarily a result of the soft economy. "The companies surveyed were of the mindset that the economy is simply a reality, and they need to work efficiently within this or any economy," says Bruce Culbert, senior vice president of BearingPoint's CRM practice. "Three or four years ago many of these CRM projects were justified simply by the fact that CRM was hot and a must-have," Culbert says. "Now, companies are going back and finding ways to either get more bang for the buck, or better leverage what they've already spent." One key finding revealed by the study is that many companies lacked the knowledge of how and what they should be measuring to determine the success or failure of an initiative. "The right metrics depend on what you are trying to accomplish, be it lowering cost of service, increasing customer satisfaction, increasing revenue per employee, and so on," Culbert says. "But one ultimate measurement is whether your CRM system is helping to increase revenue and service levels, while at the same time cutting costs." Another finding of the study is that companies are saying organizational buy-in has been a hindrance to generating value from CRM initiatives. Culbert says that CRM project leaders need to articulate a clear vision of how the project will generate value, and to practice an incremental, quick-wins implementation strategy to achieve strong buy-in at all levels. "It's not rocket science," he says, "but it is a paradigm shift compared to how IT decisions were made before, and companies need to change how they go about projects for adoption and buy-in to be strong." The study also says that a CRM strategy should have a multichannel approach, including telephone, Web, direct mail, in-store, etc., to best align the CRM initiative with the company's overall business strategy.
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