Implementing an effective Client Relationship Management (CRM) system has been seen by many firms as a purely technological solution.  One IT Director of a leading firm is well known for saying that as soon as any project becomes an “IT Project” he instructs his team to stop work and focus on something else.

The reason being?  IT projects always fail.

Successfully implementing a CRM system can have significant benefits.  However, it is crucial that those involved in CRM projects bear the following things in mind:

• How will their users use the system?

• How will it fit in with the way they work?

• What information is really important to users and how will you maintain that information?

• What are the outputs that users are going to want?

Our experience in working on CRM projects leads us to conclude that it is possible not just to survive CRM but actually to succeed.  However what are the keys to success?  This article explores some of them and also some of the pitfalls.[

Explicit Management Support

The number one reason why CRM initiatives fail within any organisation, not just professional services, is lack of explicit senior management support.  It is not enough to send out emails from the managing partner expressing commitment, it is essential for the entire executive board to “walk the talk” and become the most vocal advocates of CRM.

This has to cascade down to the fee earners.  In a market where differentiation is so important, and increasingly difficult to achieve, a well defined and well supported CRM programme enables firms to leverage its relationships effectively.  Personal relationships are increasingly one of the only real ways to differentiate yourselves from your competitors and it is for this reason that the entire fee earning community should support it.

In the next part of this blog  we’ll explore another one of the critical success factors – having a very clear definition for what CRM means to your firm.

Blog 2- What does CRM mean to your firm? 

Blog  3- Clear understanding of the role technology plays