Create a Successful Global CRM Strategy

Global corporations have seen an immediate business value in harmonizing enterprise processes, allowing them the promise of CRM: a 360-degree view of their global customers, higher customer satisfaction through better offerings and service, and rapid, profitable growth.

Initially, many companies adopted a "big bang" approach to global CRM implementations. The chosen platform was a commercial, off-the-shelf product, which replaced a legacy system. The approach was a "lift and shift" of processes and functionality from legacy due to time-to-market considerations. This resulted in high customization, high costs, delayed timelines, and missed ROI.

The other mistake commonly made was the attempt to add too many functional areas and embark on a multimillion-dollar journey over multiple years. This approach of doing too much to serve too many led to a significant failure rate for CRM implementations. Added to this was the task of organizational change management. Because many salespeople did not like spending time on an application and away from selling, implementations were often scrapped after a few unsuccessful attempts.

Web-based applications were easier to deploy than earlier client/server technologies and provided a new impetus to global deployments. Many companies chose to implement a global process template, keeping regional variations to a manageable small set (the famous 80:20 rule). These implementations focused on leveraging functionality "out of the box" to reduce implementation complexity and maintenance costs.

Functionality and deployment

A global CRM implementation roadmap spans multiple years, and the steering committee and program management team must balance the twin dimensions of functionality development and deployment. Planners could use the "value map" as their guide for prioritizing change initiatives (functional releases) on the multiyear CRM roadmap. A deployment schedule is drawn up based on prioritization criteria and handled in conjunction with functional releases.

A value map allows planners to prioritize process areas that deliver the highest business value and takes care of the largest pain points. A representative value map is shown at right:

The value map is read as follows:

1. Left to right: This lets the planner break down the three value levers—increase revenue, reduce costs, and reduce working capital (at left, in pink)—into multiple operational levers and process areas and prioritize areas that have the biggest impact on customer experience.

2. Right to left: This connects the projects on the CRM roadmap to the process improvements highlighted in the value map. This answers the question "How will it get done?" and allows the planner to match the change initiatives to the value levers outlined in the business plan.

Planners use the value map in the following way:

1. The planner uses the "hot areas" and dependency between initiatives to finalize the timing of initiatives and projects. (For example, the planner ascertains that opportunity and account management is essential, as multiple sales teams from acquired companies provide a disjointed and confusing experience to customers. This has a dependency on integrating customer data from the legacy applications of the acquired companies.) These initiatives would then be prioritized early in the roadmap.

2. Other best practices in phasing functionality implementation on a global platform are:

i. Finalizing functionality for one functional area before introducing multiple functional areas and different user groups.

ii. Implementing order capture functionality in CRM and manual integration (using MDM to facilitate linkage) with the back office when there is a compelling value to implement order capture functionality (e.g. bundling services) for providing a better customer experience.

Best practices for a global platform

Global deployments try to reduce process variations. A global CRM steering committee should have representation from each region to review and harmonize processes. The best practice is to have initial deployments to pilot countries in each region to ensure that a global process template supports all regions before building deeper functionality on that foundation.

c. Other best practices in phasing deployments on a global platform are:

1. Prioritizing countries that drive most of the global revenue, as global customers would ideally have a footprint in these countries.

2. Providing countries with less revenue or a weak or nonexistent information infrastructure with a "light" version (generally a SaaS version), which is less costly and works with lower infrastructure requirements. MDM and similar data models help to utilize data from the "light" version for global reporting.

3. Creating a global deployment framework to provide migration steps for all tracks (such as functional, application, data and integration, change management, etc.). This would guide global and country deployment teams to execute the migration.

The final global CRM roadmap would have the following tracks for execution and monitoring:

1. Value roadmap and metrics roadmap: The value management and management reporting team would track the ROI periodically and ascertain value realization and midterm changes to the value map based on business imperatives.

2. Functionality and change initiatives roadmap: This roadmap would outline the schedule for enterprise releases for all users on the global platform. This roadmap allows the global CRM steering committee to manage the functional releases.

3. Deployments roadmap: This roadmap would outline the schedule for country deployments. This roadmap allows the global CRM steering committee to manage global deployments and prepare the country teams as per the "functionality roadmap."

Shantanu Das is a principal in the consulting and systems integration unit at Infosys.

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