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

Part One – Selecting the right Partner and the right Software

The internet is chock-full of lists of reasons for the failures of CRM.  We have honed these down to around 10 main ones (and we may find more as we go along), which we will examine in a series of blogs to see how significant they are, how we can avoid them and how we can secure the goal of making CRM work.  

Tempting though it is to accept the stats on face value, life is not that simple. In the final analysis we need to make an honest judgement about which of these reasons apply, or might apply, to you and your organisation, and then construct a plan to ensure we help you prevent them.   

The cost of CRM failures is painful, both in terms of hard cash and the effect on people – employees and customers – so we need to reduce the occurrences of “CRM is not working”.Our blog series begins with finding the right ‘Software’ and finding the right ‘Partner’.  


The incidents of software being cited as a reason for failure have declined dramatically over the last 10-15 years, from which we might safely conclude that, because many users are on their second time round, they have gained experience of how to identify software that meets their needs. However, there is still scope for improvement, and poor implementation can negate the benefits of a good choice of software.

Selecting the right software

It may be an optimistic generalisation, but we think it fair to say that most CRM systems do what most people want and that the software doesn’t usually fail.

It is also the case that most existing systems have evolved on the back of user input and, because they are now better equipped, a high percentage of businesses are getting their choices of software right. The tricky part is knowing whether the system you end up choosing does everything you want it to do before you commit to it.   

 However, with the abundant availability of CRM software options, there will inevitably be some that don’t function properly or will simply lack some of the bells and whistles your business needs. Opting for a glamourous user interface “because it looks great and feels comfortable” might be an attractive idea, but you need to remind yourself that, ultimately, you are building a huge database, one that should make the input, extraction and analysis of data as easy as possible, and meet your objective of making CRM work for you.  

The amount of data involved, particularly over an extended time period, can be substantial, and this is when CRM systems are at their critical point. Those that are developed backwards from the User Interface to the database risk starting to fail, or at least fail to provide some of the things CRM users want most of all   ̶   fast, easy access to accurate information. 

Selecting the right technology partner

You might well find it difficult to establish whether your selected software will do all the things you want it to do; at which point you might not even be sure you know precisely what you need.  Since most CRM systems are ‘big’, the best way forward is probably to engage a company that has had sufficient experience with the software to know whether it will do the job and can advise you on its suitability before you embark on your journey. It should meet your functional requirements and, equally important, be consistent with the needs of your business. 

It is therefore essential that you seek assistance from a company that not only has the required technical credentials but will also take the time to understand your organisation and culture  ̶  how it works now; how you want it to work in the future; your short, medium and long-term goals; the skill levels you have in house; what everyday pressures you are under and how much time you have at your disposal. 

If you reject the idea of finding a partner and prefer to fly solo, it’s crucial that you have the necessary experience, as getting things wrong can be costly.   

Whatever the case, it’s vitally important that you don’t lose sight of the big picture and why you are committed to CRM in the first place.  In this context, experience shows that a key success factor in CRM implementations is having the buy-in and support of the CEO and main board from the outset, as well as commitment from the users themselves.  

Our next blog will cover more key reasons for CRM failure and how to avoid them. Remove the obstacles and the prize of a successful CRM is well within reach.

Next steps

Our research into what causes CRM failures helps our customers 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 Email: Web:

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