CRM Association Taps Larger Board For Expansion Push

The Customer Relationship Management Association (CRMA) recently launched an improved Web portal and introduced an expanded board of directors as part of a campaign to ramp up for a busy 2005. Originally founded as an Atlanta organization in 2000, CRMA currently comprises nine chapters in major U.S. metropolitan areas, with a 10th slated to launch in Huntsville, AL, in the near future. Joining CRMA's board are executives and representatives from key industry firms like Forrester Research, Gartner, and Baseline Consulting. CRMA Founder and President Ginger Cooper says that the need for an larger, more formal management structure became clear last year when her brief hiatus brought the group's advances to a standstill. "Everything screeched to a halt, and I realized that if we wanted to get to a [higher] level, we had to have the people and infrastructure in place." On the agenda for 2005 are expanded offerings in both CRM training and CRM industry research, as well as the unveiling of industry standards that could ultimately apply both to CRM practitioners and to vendors--a seal of approval for agreed-upon best practices in both customer engagement and CRM deployment. What won't be in CRMA's ongoing plans is the expansion of an experimental "practitioner-only" unveiled by the Atlanta chapter earlier this year, which excluded vendors and consultants from regular quarterly meetings of the association. Not all chapters signed on to the plan, and it will likely be rolled back. "We're coming full-circle. [The model] has been effective and exciting in many ways, but we have a huge vendor and implementer population and don't want to push them away," Cooper says. "We're talking about what we can do to provide for the solution providers as well, because everybody needs to work together." The concept was designed to give CRM practitioners a forum where they could speak freely without fear of alienating solution providers. Cooper is hopeful that the larger board and years of experience behind CRMA will provide for steady growth in its fifth full year of operation. One of the original chapters, located in Silicon Valley, has closed, although Cooper expects that one will reopen by 2007. "Because of my background in the software industry, I saw that the biggest threat was growing too fast. We've had lessons along the way with our trial group of chapters, and we're on track now." Related articles: CRM Association Retools for 2004
The Week in Review: September 12, 2003 The CRMA names executives, opens new chapter
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