CRM failures, pre-empting them and making CRM work – Part Four

Part Four – The dangers of CRM ‘scope creep’  

The dangers of CRM ‘scope creep’

Poorly defined objectives, unclear goals, inadequate process design. What hope then for a successful CRM? Without business process design CRM solutions can become too big and unusable.  

All CRM solutions have extensive features and can offer several ways of achieving the same objective. From these, you can select the best way forward for your business. But in the absence of a clear design plan you could end up with an imbalance between the various benefits CRM can provide. It is dangerous to assume that, because it’s a ‘package’ rather than a bespoke developed system, design or specifications are unnecessary.  

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In fact, without a disciplined approach, you could end up with something that’s over-complicated and lacking measurable objectives. Your business and tech teams could end up not working well together. Worst of all, you might lose sight of your customers, whose needs ought to be centre-stage. 

Process design is therefore critical, enabling you to put in place short-, medium- and long-term strategies with predictable project execution and effective, built-in change management processes. 

Crystal-clear objectives

Without crystal-clear objectives at the outset it is not really possible to measure success, to judge when phases are complete, to know when to go live with a particular phase, to prepare for training and education, to plan infastructure needs or to have any real idea of your direction of travel.

Once you have identified the importance of a plan, not simply for the initial CRM implementation but as a long-term one, you need to consider how to develop the right plan and keep it under control, focused and on target.  In particular, you need concrete business objectives to avoid the dangers of ‘scope creep’, while still retaining the ability to amend the plan if you discover that changes are needed. The key message here is to keep it simple, to avoid biting off too much at once and to not lose sight and control of your long-term objectives and strategy for realising them.

One success factor might be to turn to a solutions provider for your CRM implementation and its long-term care and development. But you will need to choose carefully.  Solutions providers will inevitably have gone through the process with other businesses, sometimes in your industry and sometimes not.  This means they will have seen, and implemented, some great ideas, ones that you might think of using in your own business.  

The temptation

We’ve referred to the need to get the plan right, to deliver it at the right pace and to make changes where these are appropriate and beneficial. Such changes should not be conflated with ‘scope creep’. It is inevitable that in the course of the implementation you will see things you had not thought of during the design stage, and the temptation to include them is hard to resist.  However, before considering a change, you should ask yourself some key questions:

• Will it change other elements already identified and scheduled?

• Can it only be implemented immediately, or can it wait to be scheduled in the next phase?

• Is it significant enough to disrupt the current schedule or plan?

• Will it delay completion?

• How much cost will it add?

It is important to keep the project versatile, but you must guard against loss of control.  And, whilst it is important to take note of, and evaluate, ideas that could cause scope creep, it’s advisable to schedule them in rather than allow them to creep in.  Operational improvements or better workflows will stem from a disciplined approach to your choice of CRM features, and it’s easy to get carried away by such successes. However, you should guard against trying out additional features in the hope of even more positive outcomes. There could be unintended knock-on effects and unforeseen problems.

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A better approach

A better approach is to maintain a record of good ideas and make sure you don’t lose them by simply postponing them. Better to delay an idea than kill it.  If you have limited time and a limited budget, you need to ask yourself what you might be prepared to sacrifice to make room for a new idea.

Most ‘Scope creep’ issues arise randomly and don’t benefit from the processes used during the design and strategy phase.  Another downside of scope creep is that, by the time the system is ready for launch, it will have already grown too big for customers and users alike.  There is just too much to manage.

Next Steps

Our research into what causes CRM failures helps our customers avoid failure and become successful now and in the future with CRM.

If you would like to know more, have a new project, or an existing installation which needs attention to get you on track, you can contact us at:   

Tel: 01992 661 244 



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