Home > Articles > Software Development & Management

Managing Your CRM Project

The snazziest end-user interface and most enthusiastic marketing staff will never compensate for the CRM system that doesn't do what it's supposed to. Jill Dyche explains how to roll out a glitch-free CRM implementation.
This chapter is from the book

These days it's practically routine to pick up an industry trade magazine featuring a CRM case study on page 1. Somewhere amidst the paragraph about the company's new customer loyalty program and the part about sales uplift increasing 200 percent, you'll find a sentence or two describing implementation.

No, CRM development isn't sexy, and yes, it's fraught with hazards from technology glitches to hiring freezes, but it's the hub in the CRM wheel when it comes to ensuring a smooth rollout. The snazziest end-user interface and most enthusiastic marketing staff will never compensate for the CRM system that doesn't do what it's supposed to. Not to put too fine a point on it, the implementation project is a critical piece of the CRM puzzle.

A Pre-Implementation Checklist

I spend most of my time these days evaluating how prepared companies are to launch their CRM programs, be they departmental or enterprise-wide, single or multifunction. Sometimes this occurs at the requirements definition stage, where there is uncertainty about the perceived need and its implementation viability. Other times it involves evaluating a company's existing infrastructure just prior to implementation. What I do most is quiz key CRM stakeholders about their existing environment from both business and technology perspectives.

My company calls such evaluations CRM Readiness Assessment engagements, but I like to consider them "premortems." After all, what's more valuable than fixing problems before they occur? The best way to do this is to envision possible outcomes based on current circumstances, using experiences gleaned from successful CRM deployments. It's good old risk management, come home to roost.

Table 9-1 lists a series of considerations to be aware of before moving forward with CRM development. Make sure each of these items has been at least considered at your company, and the more complex your intended CRM program, per Table 9-1, the more mandatory it is that you resolve the issue prior to beginning development.

Table 9-1: CRM Pre-Implementation Checklist

Evaluation Question



Have you prepared a CRM business plan?

We discussed CRM business planning in Chapter 7. Regardless of whether management requires such a document, it's a very good idea to have one that represents CRM's baseline.

Do you know who your executive sponsor is and what she expects?

By the time you're ready to launch development, the CRM executive sponsor should be crystal clear. Moreover, her role in defining and validating requirements, managing executive expectations, and helping define success metrics should be well understood by all stakeholders.


Have high-level business requirements been defined?

In CRM this activity should be separate from the formal development project for two reasons:

business requirements will dictate whether the CRM program moves forward, and they require involvement from stakeholders who might not be available during implementation.


Have success metrics been established?

How will you know if your CRM program has been a success? Although many companies don't require success metrics—likethose we discussed in Chapter 7— to be implemented, they're an effective safety net for after the system is deployed.


Has the project been funded?

No use planning an entire CRM program if only a mere proof-of-concept has been approved.


Is there agreement on desired customer behaviors? Are the business functions slated to support these desired behaviors apparent?

Depending on the scope of your CRM program, you might include a description of desired customer behavior in your CRM business plan. Either way, building consensus on how you want customers to behave differently is important. For instance, if sales staff will be using CRM to manage the sales pipeline, it should establish the ideal response to an information mailing.


Does each organization agree on a common definition of "customer"?

The marketing department of an automobile company might consider a "customer" to be a dealer, but the call center might consider it to be a driver. Have consensus on this and other key definitions before you begin.


Can you map the desired functionality to data requirements?

Customer data is complex more often than it's straightforward. This usually means defining data requirements along with business requirements. At some point you'll need to know whether customer data is necessary and from what system it will originate. A firm understanding of the level of customer data—account, household1—is also critical.


Do you suspect that external data will be necessary?

Purchasing data from an external source such as Dun & Bradstreet, Axciom, Data Quick, or Experian might not initially be a high priority, but it can supplement customer profiles with such indicators as number of family members, estimated income, household-level psychographics, ZIP code breakdowns, real estate information, and other attributes that can reveal customer behaviors and preferences.


For customization, does the current workstation development environment support the CRM product?

What type of workstation configurations does your CRM tool's development environment require? Additional development tools (e.g., Microsoft's Visual Studio) or hardware (e.g., database servers) might be necessary to correctly customize the CRM environment.


Have you identified the other applications or systems with which the CRM product must integrate?

There should be an up-front understanding of the impact of CRM on other corporate systems and of how the data will move between systems effectively. In addition, staff members whose systems will be touched by CRM should be notified of the pending integration requirements.


Have the organizational or political barriers to rolling out CRM been identified? Have they been resolved?

Yes, it's a loaded question. (See the end of this chapter.) No, it's not meant to point fingers, but to establish up-front what the tactics will be when questions of ownership or disagreements about functional priorities rear their heads. An influential executive sponsor might be able to resolve such issues before they arise.


Have you truly defined your privacy policy?

Regardless of whether your CRM program will be Web-based, understand your company's boundaries for using data about your customers.

CRM must not only adhere to a corporate privacy policy; it should also be the flagship example of the company's behavior around customer data. See Chapter 10 for more about handling privacy.


The most valuable feature of a "premortem" exercise is that it's a lot easier to give bad news before disaster strikes than to say "I told you so" after the fact—and after the money has been spent. CRM assessment findings can alert the business sponsor to potential roadblocks. Such findings allow CRM team members to fix problems proactively rather than pointing fingers after the CRM project has failed, as 70 percent of all CRM projects allegedly do.

Ideally, the answer to each of the above questions will be "yes," with consensus on how each issue will be handled when it's encountered. At the very least, the CRM team should be aware of each issue and prepared to deal with it when it inevitably comes up.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020