In this blog our guest writer, Kerry Rollins of Ernst & Young Canada, will discuss some of the challenges and successes of implementing InterAction to manage CRM at Ernst & Young Canada.

Kerry is a senior manager in the advisory practice, where he helps clients manage risk, transform business performance and sustain improvement. For Ernst & Young Canada’s recent adoption of a new CRM system, Kerry was the project manager responsible for assessing and leading changes to businesses processes, technology and organizational mind set and behaviours. Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.

You might think that a firm the size of ours would have great resources to throw at our CRM project, but with 15 offices across Canada and more than 4500 employees, implementing a Client Relationship Management System for a firm as diverse and as large as ours brings its own challenges.

• Communicating the Vision.

For us the starting place had to be to clearly define what it was we were aiming to achieve with CRM. As we were part of a deployment that encompassed the US, South and Central America, achieving a consistency of vision that needed to meet the needs of so many, and then communicating it effectively to such a large audience was no simple task. It was for this reason that our approach in Canada was to appoint client-serving sponsors from the business, like me, to work with the delivery project team. This was not only so that the business could be represented effectively within the delivery project team, but also so that I could communicate back to my colleagues so that there was two-way communication between the business and the implementation team.

• Managing the data.

We probably invested more time in managing the data than anything else. As you would expect from a large, multi-practice professional services firm, there is a great deal of diversity in terms of what information people need to do their jobs. We needed to make sure that whilst the needs of the professionals were understood and achieved, we also met the needs of our marketing colleagues, across the firm. To that end, both I and the representatives from Canada on the delivery project team, focused on determining what data was important and needed to be migrated. We recognized that not everything could be cleaned up and too much data was likely to get in the way of what we were trying to achieve with CRM. As a result the migration and go-live was fairly smooth. We knew what we were trying to do with CRM and as a result were clear what data would achieve that and what was likely to inhibit our ability to realize our objectives.

• Keep it as simple as possible.

There is a tendency and a risk for large projects to become overly complex. Of course things always take a bit longer than you expect them to, but overall we were very focused on what we were trying to achieve and focused on not trying to do too much. Most professional users within our firm have reasonable expectations from CRM and therefore it is much better to do a few things really well and build on that success, than it is to try and do too much too soon.

We’ve now been working with InterAction for nearly 6 months and so far everything is what we expected it to be. If I have one piece of wisdom to share with you it would be to stay close to your users throughout the project. While executive sponsorship is a powerful and necessary component in gathering support for a CRM project, the early identification and engagement of influential representatives of user groups, or champions, is critical to increasing user adoption.

For us, these champions included not only client-serving senior managers and sales organization members that are well known and highly regarded by their peers and subordinates, but also leading administrative/executive assistants. Increasing the number of people working with the project team who can trumpet the project’s benefits across your organization will lead to a much smoother CRM implementation.

Stanton Allen were engaged by Ernst & Young to undertake the data migration for the InterAction project for the Americas. Stanton Allen’s consulting team worked closely with Kerry during the project as part of the overall project delivery team.