Reaching CRM's Destination: A Capability Maturity Model (part 2 of a two-part series)

Editor's note: The first article, by Peter Moses and John Moses, in this two-part series was published in June 2005's Viewpoint section. CLICK HERE to view part 1. Many companies are finding that the fastest path to CRM success is to engineer their supporting solutions with the desired outcomes in mind. This discipline and focus on the
direction of CRM activities is the only way companies will see their early beliefs about CRM become reality. However, given the relationship and interdependence amongst the three activities comprising the CMD, how should an organization plan to deploy the requisite set of supporting solutions while still adhering to CRM solution deployment principles that have become the hallmarks of CRM initiative success (e.g., phased deployment)? This article presents a capability maturity model for CRM managers, outlining the maturity of delivered CRM benefit from data unification to differentiated execution based upon customer intelligence. This maturity model can be leveraged to serve as a blueprint for deployment planning or as an evaluation tool for past and current CRM initiatives. THE CUSTOMER MANAGEMENT CAPABILITY MATURITY MODEL Application and practice of a closed-loop CMD requires the practical execution of supporting technologies and infrastructure. Many organizations have spent significantly to employ CRM solutions to achieve the long overdue, sought after business value that has been the promise of "better understanding customers." These efforts have, for the most part, been notoriously unsuccessful. The following capability maturity model for customer management can provide organizations a benefit blueprint for defining a practical, phased solution deployment approach, avoiding many classic pitfalls (e.g., mismanaged expectations, invalid business cases). Or, for those organizations that have invested in CRM solutions without achieving lasting business value, the model can serve as an intervention guide. By considering CRM solution delivery as a phased progression of delivered benefit, as outlined in this capability maturity model, organizations can increase the effectiveness of decision making over time and begin to transition from merely collected data (information) to business intelligence (insight).

Data Unification and Quality The value of any customer management solution is grounded in a solid data foundation. Establishing enterprise-wide business data definitions and architecture, as well as instantiation of ongoing data quality measures, are the primary benefit of CRM. Any CRM-related efforts that do not have this initial focus are destined for failure. Many past CRM endeavors failed as a result of not focusing on this foundational benefit. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that "universal customer master" initiatives have become a very hot topic these days. Process Standardization and Effectiveness Based upon the consolidation of business data previously spread across the organization, companies can focus upon standardizing their business processes. They also can build solution capabilities that support these processes and enable more effective daily execution. While many companies build business cases for CRM that outline benefit attainment in many areas, most CRM solution execution stops here, at improved efficiency and the broader class of cost reduction. Operational Reporting and Metric Measurement The ability to monitor, evaluate, and adjust daily activity is necessary to business operations. Without this capability, how can an organization understand the true effectiveness of its operations? Moreover, how certain is the forecasted return on its CRM investment? Most CRM endeavors grossly underestimate (or neglect altogether) metrics measurement. Analytics and Customer Intelligence Beyond operational reporting, establishing analytical solutions to effectively leverage collected transactional information is necessary to truly develop intelligence regarding customers. Understanding customer trends and the relationship between the organization's interactions with customers and their behavior is what has been traditionally thought of as the ultimate value of CRM. Differentiated Execution What an organization does with its customer intelligence is what helps define full customer management maturity. The ability to interact with customers in a differentiated fashion, based on learned information as to their past/expected behavior, is what creates profitable customer relationships for organizations. This is the truly innovative and strategic dimension of CRM, fact-based customer strategies that include deep insights around customer needs and value. By constructing initiatives that support the phased delivery of business solution benefit per this capability maturity model for customer management, organizations can better define the direction of CRM activities and transition from merely collected data (information) to business intelligence (insight). About the Author Todd Wilkerson is a senior principal at Inforte Corp. Over the past 10 years Todd has led multidisciplinary teams comprising strategy, process, change management, and systems integration personnel in the definition and execution of enterprisewide CRM programs for many organizations. Clients with which Todd has partnered include 3Com, Alberto-Culver, BMC Software, Genesys Telecommunication Labs, Indus International, Monsanto, Palm Computing, Siemens, SunGard SCT, and Toshiba. Todd can be reached at Todd.Wilkerson@inforte.com
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