We’ve recently run a series of blogs on the golden rules for ensuring that you have a successful CRM implementation in your firm.  This is the abridged Directors’ briefing.  We hope you find it helpful.

The challenges that firms face seem to face when it comes to making CRM successful, fall into a number of distinct areas:

  • No clear understanding of what CRM is for
  • Too much poor quality data
  • Initiative overload
  • Inadequate training and communication
  • Constricting budgets

So what are the rules for success?

  • Rule 1 – Less is more.  It is so much better to do a few things really well than to attempt to deliver a CRM system that is all things to all people.   Professionals, generally speaking, want to know relatively little, but it’s important to them that they can trust the information they’re given.    If we try and make CRM a “one-stop-shop” and provide them with every piece of information they could ever want we seriously risk drowning our users in seas of irrelevant information.


  • Rule 2 – Be Clear about your vision.  Many firms don’t seem to be able to articulate what they are trying to achieve with CRM.   If you can’t summarise your vision on one page then you’re trying to do too much.  For example are you trying to implement a system to support key account management or industry sector business development programmes?


  • Rule 3 – There is no right answer.  For some, CRM is no more sophisticated than a place to store their business contacts’ names and telephone numbers, whereas for others it’s about identifying and exploiting the most profitable opportunities.  Neither of these is necessarily wrong, however where things to tend to go awry is where users expect they are getting the latter and CRM is aiming to achieve only the former.


  • Rule 4 – It’s all about the outputs For many people getting the data right is all about inputs.    If you think like this you’re looking at the problem the wrong way around.  Understand what the outputs are and that will drive the inputs.  For fee earners it usually includes things like:
    • What’s going on with my clients?
    • What mailings do they receive, and which ones do they read?
    • What events do they get invited to and which ones do they attend?
    • Am I missing any opportunities to exploit our relationships?


  • Rule 5 – Understand the Business processes.   For CRM to be successful you have to know what business processes it’s trying to support.  What are the objectives of that process?  What is the information needed to support that process?  Only then can you work out what your CRM is going to be used for.


  • Rule 6 – Don’t try and make your CRM system something it’s not.  Every system is designed with a specific purpose in mind.  So, for example,  don’t try and turn your CRM system into a financial reporting database.  Yes by all means pull financials through from your practice management system but understand the context in which they are being used for CRM.


  • Rule 7 – Get explicit management support The number one reason why CRM initiatives fail is lack of explicit senior management support.  This means that you need to focus on delivering value for a programme that has already got wide acceptance at a senior level.   For example your key client programme.  So from a CRM perspective simply present it as a piece of technology that supports the key client programme and not as a programme in its own right.


  • Rule 8 – Clean up your data.  Most systems drown in too much data.  My approach is be ruthless in what you hold and even more ruthless in what you commit to maintaining.    If a piece of information doesn’t add any value or isn’t being used  – get rid of it!


  • Rule 9 – Communication, Communication, Communication.  I once believed that the most important factor to making CRM successful was the data.  I don’t believe that any more.  That’s not to say that I don’t think it’s important, of course it is, but  there is no substitute for spending 1:1 time with fee earners and their secretaries at their desks.    Don’t underestimate how much communication you’ll have to do on an on-going basis.


  • Rule 10 – Grow a thick skin!