Project Killers: The Resourceful PM (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

projectManger_lorax

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the building, where the CIO goes

And the air smells of ozone when the AC vent blows

And no music is playing, except the Black Crows

Is the cube of the gifted PM.

 

And way down the hallway, some people say

If you look far and hard you can still see today

Where the PM once stood, just as long as he could

Before somebody carried the PM away

 

Who was the PM, and what did he do?

And why was he carried to some place so new?

Far from the building and the projects long ago

The old BA still lives here.  Ask him.  He’ll know!

 

You won’t see the BA, don’t darken his hall

He stares at his laptop and waits for the call

He lurks in his cubicle, cool, calm and aloof

Where he makes up reports out of miff-muffered moof

And on special release days in April he peeks

Out past the window blinds and sometimes he speaks

And tells how the PM was carried away

He’ll tell you, perhaps…if you’re willing to pay.

 

He leans back in his chair, his shoulders a-hunch

And taps on his watch and says it’s time for lunch.

You have to be clever and take up the clue

And invite the BA to come dine with you.

 

As you settle to eat, he looks anxiously ‘bout,

and begs you be certain that you never shout.

He orders the priciest dish he can find,

and follows that up with a bottle of wine.

 

Then he grunts, “I’ll call you tonight, I’ll use secure phone,

For the secrets I’ll tell you are for your ears alone.”

BUZZ!

He’s good as his word; you move the phone to your ear

And the old BA’s words come through, though not very clear

Since he’s speaking to you through a cloth by choice

In the hopes that it will somehow help disguise his voice

“Now I’ll tell you,” he says, with his teeth sounding gray,

“How the PM came to be carried away…

 

Way back in the days when the science was new

And the people were eager, but knew not what to do

And the business thought all projects were as easy as pie

I was hired by this place to give it a try.

Then I first saw the list, the Requirements List!

The long standing reckoning of what had been missed

Sorted ‘what would be nice’ and ‘what would be bliss’

 

And promoting the list were requestors galore

Dancing and happy to see what was in store

Certain their system would soon do much more

 

But that list! That list! That Requirements List!

All of my life I’d been searching for a project like this.

A litany of needs more urgent than eating

And requestors with funding all plaintively bleating

I felt a great leaping of joy in my heart

And set up my laptop galumphing to start

 

In no time at all, I had devised a new plan

To knock off each listing as fast as I can

So with great skillful skill and with great speedy speed

I took the first entry.  And I sized up the need.

 

The instant I’d finished, I heard a ga-Roar!

I looked.  I turned to see something framed in the door

of the office.  My eyes said it was sort of a man.

Describe him?…That’s hard.  I don’t know if I can.

 

He was tallish, and youngish, but sharp dressed and preppy

And he spoke with a voice that was controlled but peppy.

“Mister!” he said in a sibilant hiss

“I am the PM.  I speak for the list.

I speak for the list, to give the words meaning

And I don’t like the way that this project is leaning”

He was upset now; I could see his hands tremble

“Isn’t the right starting your team to assemble?”

 

“Look PM,” I said.  “There’s no cause for alarm.

I took the first entry.  I am doing no harm.

In fact it’s quite useful to jump in the lead

And convert the entry to a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need.

 

The PM said, “Sir! Your actions are hasteful.

If no one can work with you, you’ll find they are wasteful!”

But the very next minute I proved he was wrong,

For just at that minute a user came along

And she thought that the entry on line one of the list

Was understood well, I had gotten the gist.

 

I laughed at the PM, “You poor stupid man!

You have to get to it as fast as you can!

“I repeat,” cried the PM, “I speak for the list!”

“I’m busy,” I told him.  I showed him my fist.

 

Then I looked back at the screen and in no time at all

Had blown the doc up to hang on the wall

And I reached out to requestors with meetings galore

And promised them results betterer than before

 

Soon I found I was working full tilt.  I was sizing up needs.

IT and the business were as busy as bees

tackling list entries and gathering more.

Soon the requirements list rolled clear to the floor.

Then…  Oh! Baby! Oh! How that requirements list continued to grow.

Now taking one entry at a time, or even tackling two

I found that the task was more than I could do.

 

So I quickly invented a new requirements tracker,

which allowed me to whack out four lines with one whacker.

I was writing down needs four times as fast as before!

And that PM? … He didn’t show up any more.

But the next week he again darkened the door.

 

He stated, “I’m the PM who speaks for the list and the listers

It seems you’ve forgotten those missuses and misters

They’ve asked me to speak in hopes that you’d heed.

You don’t have a plan to solve the first need

And my poor users are all feeling fright-full

that you will not produce something delightful.

They loved making the list.  But they didn’t realize

that with everyone asking it would grow so in size.

So they’ve taken a vote and they found with dismay

that they don’t have a need worth the price they must pay.”

 

I, the BA, felt sad as I deleted their asks.

BUT… business is business!  There were still lots of tasks.

And the project continued despite their sad masks.

 

I meant no harm, I most truly did not.

But I had to get going, so going I got

I biggered my tracker, I biggered the poster,

I biggered a chart to resemble a coaster

with buckets of needs that I got from the list

and circulated to all so that no one was missed.

I went right on working, finding more needs

And I biggered my bonus, which everyone needs!

 

Then the PM came back, I was just starting to type

when that old-nuisance PM came back with a gripe.

“I am the PM,” he paused for effect,

“and I speak for the list which now is a wreck.”

“BA!” he cried with a cruffulous croak.

“BA! You’re making this project a joke!

“My poor IT team, how they all like to wail

they can’t seem to make out the head or the tail.

“And so,” said the PM, while pushing a sigh

“They’re all lining up and saying goodbye.

“What’s more,” snapped the PM his patience had failed

“Let me say a few words about your E-mail!

“You churn out new memos day and night without stop

Most filled with Glupp and Schloppity-Schlopp

“And who reads the letters that they get from you?

“I’ve asked everybody and I’ve found that it’s few!

 

And then I got mad, I turned terribly blue!

I yelled at the PM, “Now listen here, you!

All you do is yap-yap and say what you would do.

Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you

I intend to go on doing just what I do.

And for your information, I’m just about through!

 

And at that very moment, out in the hall

We heard the soft rustle as the poster did fall

on the floor ‘neath the feet of the oncoming CIO

accompanied by shouts that the project must go.

He held out his arm and opened his fist

He flatly demanded, “Hand me the list.”

 

No more list.  No more needs.  No more work to be done.

All my hopes had been smashed and dashed, every one.

Now all that was left to be seen with my eye

Was a big empty office, the PM, and I

The PM said nothing just gave me a look

When the walls of my cubicle suddenly shook

with the pounding of feet from the people outside.

They picked up the PM.  They gave him a ride.

And I’ll never forget the look on his face

As they carried him off to a much better place

That was long, long ago

But each day since that day

I’ve sat here and relived what the PM had to say

Get the resources first, get the team to assemble.

He’d told me that with his hands all a-tremble.

Once the resources are certain I have now realized

Lists are much more easily prioritized.

And the users and listers, once they know the cost,

can easily understand the gain and the loss.

Once the plan is created, and each knows his task

Reading an e-mail about the project is the least we can ask

 

Each project has potential just like some seeds

Give them clean water, clean air, and meet all their needs

And each of them will become a healthy plant.

But if you rush them or starve them you’ll find that they can’t.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Illustration created and provided by Jonathan Pike, eVerge Group IT Specialist.

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Project Killers: Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh my!

OZYou’ve just discovered yourself surrounded by Witches and Munchkins in Munchkin land and you desperately want to get back to Kansas.  You’ve heard that the Wizard of Oz in Emerald City can help you get back, but how do you find the Wizard?  Just follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Do you see the similarities to your CRM project?   In Munchkin land Dorothy had a clear goal, return to Kansas with the help of the Wizard of Oz.  Your CRM project has a clear goal; help grow your profits by delighting your customers.  The path from Munchkin land to the Wizard is the Yellow Brick Road.  Your path to delighting your customers is your project statement of work.  Just as Dorothy gathered helpers on her journey to Oz, you will assemble a project team to assist you in getting to Deployment.   Finally, just like Dorothy you start off confidently down the road.

If you have watched the 1939 classic movie the Wizard of Oz, you should remember that the Yellow Brick Road was a path filled with risks to the journey – or as the Strawman and Tin Woodman stated – Lions, and Tigers and Bears.  There were also belligerent fruit trees, wicked witches, and deadly poppies along the way.  Dorothy hadn’t planned for any of these risks and would have been stopped ‘dead’ in her tracks if not for the help of her companions and finally the intervention of Glinda the good witch.

Your project path is a lot like the Yellow Brick Road.  yellow brick roadWhat are the lions, and tigers, and bears you will face?  Where are the belligerent fruit trees and deadly poppies?  Who are the ‘bad witches’ and what risks do they introduce?  Every project faces at least one risk to successful completion.  Most of the time, there are myriad risks to successful completion.  If these risks are not identified and/or not mitigated, they become impacts.  Impacts cost the project time, money, and scope.  In the most severe form, they kill the project before any benefit can be realized!

Dorothy ran head long into her risks and impacts, and unless you have a ‘Glinda’ protecting you, we don’t recommend that approach.  Instead create a detailed project plan using a tool such as MS Project that can point out some of the most common risks faced by a CRM project.  Here are the top 10 risks as identified by online-crm.com:

  1. Invalid project assumptions (different expectations among stakeholders)
  2. Project planning omissions. Significant delays incurred not because project planning tasks were underestimated but because project tasks were completely omitted (forgotten)
  3. Data conversion delay. Unanticipated data scrubbing due to poor data quality
  4. Lack of continuity or consistency of business processes among multiple locations (as well as the introduction of sub-optimization by some locations)
  5. Failure to proactively anticipate and mitigate user adoption challenges – fear of change, sub-optimization and/or sacred cows. Closely aligned with failure to recognize the change in cultural due to a CRM implementation
  6. Missing or infrequent active and visible executive sponsorship
  7. Project is perceived by users as optional; CRM software failure is an option
  8. Failure to backfill project team schedules/workloads
  9. Failure to recognize weak (basic PC operation) user skills assessment prior to training
  10. Failure of Risk Management and proactive risk mitigation

Interesting to note that one of the top 10 risks to any CRM project is the lack of proactive risk mitigation!  Your job as a project manager is to identify these above risks (and all others) well in advance of running into them, determine the potential each has for becoming an ‘impact’ to the project, determine whether or not to accept or mitigate the risk, and establish a risk mitigation plan for each risk that you have identified should be mitigated.  Those mitigation plans should have tasks, resources, and due dates that are tracked on your project plan with strict adherence.  Each risk that is not mitigated becomes an ‘impact’, you will have to deal with impacts to the project, but by the time you are dealing with them the project has been delayed, made more costly, reduced in scope, or all 3.  If you don’t have more time or don’t have more money, and Glinda doesn’t come to your rescue, your project has just come to the end of the Yellow Brick Road with the gleaming Emerald City far in the distance.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Project Killers: Does X Mark the Spot?

X Marks the SpotProject Killers are waiting to pounce on every project – from inception to transition.  In this series we are looking at the most common assassins and exploring the ways to preserve the health and well-being of your projects.  The most heinous killers are:

 

  1. Dead on Arrival (a.k.a. DOA) – A project without the proper estimations for time and resources somehow is initiated. (The Path to On Time, On Budget and In Scope : http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1385)
  2. Death by Documentation (a.k.a. Strangled in Red Tape) – A great deal of time and effort goes into plans, requirement documents, and design documents with no real benefit to the project. (Project Killers: An Ode to Death by Documentation: http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1389)
  3. Death by Indecision (a.k.a. Analysis Paralysis in its milder forms) – Key project decisions are delayed or avoided altogether. (Project Killers – PSI – Project Scene Investigation “A Case of Slow Death” http://blog.evergegroup.com/?p=1400)
  4. Death in Unchartered Lands (a.k.a. Scope Creep) – The participants, stakeholders, scope, and methods, are never agreed to formally when the project starts. If you don’t know where you’re going, most any road will take you there – but it may take a lot longer and cost a lot more!
  5. Sudden Unplanned Death (a.k.a. Running into a dead end) – risks are not properly identified and mitigated
  6. Death by Starvation (a.k.a. Bottlenecks) – resources are not properly identified and allocated.

We have already dealt with DOA, Strangulation by Red Tape, and Analysis Paralysis in previous blogs.  This blog deals with Scope Creep, enemy number One and the most hated project killer of all time.

Imagine that you make your living by looking for and recovering treasure.  It shouldn’t take much imagination, because that is exactly what you are doing as a project manager, but let’s carry out the analogy to show the congruence.  First, as a professional you wouldn’t chase a treasure that was known to be too small or too costly to obtain.  Second, you would have a ‘map’, literal or figurative, that has a definitive ‘X’ that marks the spot where the treasure can be found.  Third, you would obtain the permissions and licenses needed to hunt for the treasure.  Fourth you gather your investors to fund the trip.  Fifth, you would assemble your treasure hunting team.  Sixth, you would plan your treasure hunting trip.  Finally, you would hunt for and recover the treasure.

It is easy to see the analogy, an IT project is a lot like a treasure hunt.  You initiate the project to benefit (the treasure) your organization.  You have an estimate and a statement of work (the map).  You license the software.  You identify the business stakeholders and obtain the funding.  You put together the project team.  You write up a plan to obtain your objectives.  Finally, you carry out the project and obtain the desired result.  Or do you??

Do you instead ‘get greedy’?  A new map has been found, lying close to your original treasure is another one.  It is temptingly close by and by extending your trip, and pushing your resources to the limit, that treasure can be had!  X no longer marks the spot.  Your careful plans and preparation are no longer going to assure you of finding the treasure you seek, because you now seek more than you had originally planned to.  You have literally released the ‘bird in your hand’ to seek ‘two in the bush’.

When this happens to your IT project, when you reach out for that nearby benefit, you have exposed the heart of your project to the most deadly and feared project killer, Scope Creep.  Yes, there may be more benefit to be had, and yes, it may be reachable by running the project longer and pushing the team to the limits.  However, you must realize your carefully created plans and preparation are no longer going to assure you of a successful project.  Prior to giving up on your original ‘treasure’ in favor of a new, expanded one, you should think of the professional treasure hunters.  What would they do?

The truly successful, professional treasure hunters stay focused on the prize to the exclusion of all potential distractions, they also draw up a charter and make every member of the team commit to that charter, and finally they set up the reward system for the team members in such a way that they are only rewarded for the treasure they are chartered to find.  Do the same for your projects and you will find that X indeed marks the spot much more often than not!

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Illustration created and provided by Jonathan Pike, eVerge Group IT Specialist.

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Project Killers: PSI -Project Scene Investigation “A Case of Slow Death”

project-killer3

It’s late in the evening in Los Empresas, TX. Even the most dedicated employees at Pastells, Inc. have abandoned their desks, secured their laptops, and joined the sinuous stream of cars on I-47 headed for anywhere but work. Only five grim faced men and women remain around a table in a conference room; the executive steering committee for Project Uplift.   Project Uplift is the CRM project that will propel Pastells into market dominance.   A silver-haired gentleman, Oliver Pastell, jumps from his chair, obviously agitated, pointing excitedly at the screen where the final slide of the executive review still glows. “What this slide tells me,” He shouts “is that Project Uplift is dead!” In the silence that ensues, no one can disagree.

Dead projects are common in Los Empresas. It’s our job to investigate them and bring the killer to justice. Call me Mike, an engagement manager with PSI, Inc.; it’s my pleasure to head up the investigation team. Morgan is my project manager, she’s best at organizing the facts and keeping the team on task. She won’t quit as long as the killer remains at large. Ajay is my architect; he can follow any thread in the investigation and flesh out the facts, determine the probabilities, and plot the next steps. My developers, Harish and Jason, are equipped with the latest tools and training to analyze the evidence and synthesize the facts that either support or disprove our theories on the killer’s identity.

The Project Uplift case came to us the next morning. Ajay, Morgan, and I met to discuss the case over a box of Krispy Kremes and a ½ gallon of hot coffee. “Mike, what do we know about the project?” Ajay managed between bites. I shook my head, “Based on what I have seen so far, this one is a bit baffling. The project had a clear charter, it had good support from the Pastells executives, the plan was pretty well developed and clear, and the objective and scope were understood and well communicated.” Morgan chimed in, “That sounds like a healthy project, what about the people working on it?” I quickly reviewed the list forwarded from Pastells, “It appears that the project team included consultants from the Nopuedes Group, the Pastells Project Manager, Maria Ansiosos, some Business Analysts, some Subject Matter Experts from the business, and the CIO, Raul Espere.” Ajay spoke first, “I know some folks at Nopuedes, and I’ll talk to the project PM.” “Morgan, see if you can speak with Maria,” I directed “and I will send the project documentation to Harish and Jason to see if they can find anything we’ve missed.” I reviewed the list again, “I’m not sure how much the CIO Raul will want to talk to me, it looks like this project was his brain child and he might be like a father in mourning, but I’ll do my best.”

My appointment with Raul is set for later this afternoon; I decide to stop by the developer’s bullpen on my way out. I settle into an office chair next to Jason, grab an Old Dutch pretzel from the open tub and ask, “Anything suspicious, yet?” Jason turns to the keyboard, after a few strokes he turns the monitor towards me. “All of the documents that we have are in order. “ He shows me the original Statement of Work from Nopuedes, the project charter, the budget, the project plan, the requirements, the design, the testing plans, and the resource list before I stop him. “Are you saying that there is nothing wrong?” Harish chimes in, “What we are saying is that there is nothing wrong with what we have been sent, but there is something very import missing – the RAID!” “You mean the Risks, Action Items, Issues, and Decisions log?” I clarify. Harish beams, “Correct! Why did they provide all of the other project artifacts, but leave out the RAID log for Project Uplift?” I look at my watch, time to leave to meet with CIO Raul, and that will be one of the first questions I ask.

“Thanks for meeting me on such short notice.” Ajay says as he shakes hands with Jorge, the Nopuedes PM. Jorge laughs ruefully, “With Project Uplift dead, my calendar was suddenly clear!” “I am just as interested in finding the killer as you are, Ajay, Project Uplift seemed to be a real winner and so important for Pastells.” Ajay continues to keep Jorge talking, “So the demise of the project came as a complete surprise?” Jorge scratches his chin and screws his mouth into a wry smile, “No, Ajay, not a complete surprise, there were rumblings and grumblings but nothing definite.”   Ajay pounces, “Grumblings about what?” Jorge considers his answer carefully. “I can only say what I heard from Maria, the Pastells PM. She told me that the subject matter experts and business analysts thought ‘things’ were taking too long. When I asked her what ‘things’ she was vague. I got the vibe that she was protecting someone. Find that someone and you will find the killer.” Ajay saw no reason to pull his punch, “So you’re saying I could look at your internal project documents and you would have nothing to hide?” Jorge pauses, turns his laptop towards Ajay, “I was just about to do that review myself, you’re welcomed to help.” Ajay starts the review and hopes that Morgan can get some answers from Maria. He jerks the iPhone 6 from his pocket and dials…

“I don’t know what more I can provide than we provided by email this morning”, Maria Ansiosos stated tersely. “I hope you can appreciate that we are busy at Pastells trying to pick up the pieces.” Morgan knows that this is a sensitive subject for the Pastells PM, but she also knows that Maria has important information. “I just want to hear from you why you think Project Uplift died; we’ll be talking to everyone involved.” “I don’t deal in speculation,” Maria replies in clipped, frosty tones. Morgan decides a direct approach will work best, “I just spoke to my teammate Ajay, he heard from Jorge at Nopuedes that you had a conversation with Jorge and that the Pastells team believed ‘things’ were moving too slowly. Were you implying that Nopuedes was to blame?” Maria’s face turns ashen, “No, Jorge and his team did the best they could under the circumstances.”  Morgan moves closer to Maria, “What were the circumstances?” Maria’s shoulders slump, she starts in a low whisper, “I expect every project to have different circumstances, but we’ve been through many projects at Pastells successfully despite that.” Maria stands, turns her head, and with her voice rising declares, “I love my job, I need this job, and I am good at what I do.  I didn’t kill Project Uplift and I don’t know who did!” Morgan follows Maria’s eyes and sees that they are firmly fixed on a nameplate on the corner office door. She slides the Galaxy S6 edge from her pocket, dials and speaks quietly when the phone is answered.

My first impression of Raul Espere is that he looks like a man who has just lost a son or perhaps a brain child. His eyes are bloodshot; his clothes have obviously been on his body for at least the last 36 hours.  The coffee mug in his left hand trembles as he reaches to shake mine.  “Mike, I know I look like hell, but Oliver Pastell wants answers about Project Uplift, and he wants them now. I’ve been up all night pulling together information for him.” From the tone of Raul’s voice, I can tell this isn’t the first all-nighter he’s pulled for Oliver; I decide to follow that line of questioning right after I clear up the number one question on my mind. “Raul, you sent us every other project document, why not the RAID log?” Raul looks over his mug at me, and then he slowly sets it down. “Can you excuse me for a minute?” I watch as Raul speaks quietly with his administrative assistant, he returns to the room and carefully closes the door. “Mike, the RAID was withheld because it contained sensitive Pastells information, I had originally included it in the packet, but after review a decision was made to keep it in house.” I hide my initial surprise, “Who did the review, Raul?” “The executive steering committee,” Raul immediately replies. “The whole committee?” I ask, “Or is there one very important member who might have made that decision?” Raul simply sips his coffee, though I can see he is about to explode. I continue, “What was on that log that could be so important? From what I heard from Ajay and Morgan, the PM’s had done a good job of identifying risks and issues and ways to avoid and mitigate them. Harish and Jason have verified that the plan was resource loaded and action items were included. Raul, that only leaves – Decisions!” Raul blurts out to stop me, “I made every decision asked of me, I weighed the facts, gathered opinions, brainstormed solutions, and delivered decisions!” I could tell he was telling the truth, but not all of it. “I believe you Raul, but without that RAID, there really is no evidence of that. I know that this project was your brain child, that you mourn the death of Project Uplift more than anyone else, but that’s no reason to let your career go to the grave with it.” His weary head with the blood shot eyes lifts towards me and then turns to the corner office. “Let me guess and see how close I come,” I continue “they key member of the executive steering committee that decided not to send us the RAID log was Oliver! I can only guess at how many late nights you’ve spent feeding him information waiting on a decision only to be asked for more time and information. I bet that when the RAID surfaces, and we will dig until we find it, it will be red with decisions waiting on Oliver.” Raul slowly pulls open a desk drawer and lifts out a thick Pendaflex folder, clearly marked Project Uplift. From the center of the folder he extracts a printout of an Excel spread sheet that looks like a RAID log. He hands it to me and begs quietly, “This is what you need, be careful how you use it.”

Oliver Pastell is gracious as he invites my team from PSI, Inc. to take a seat. Ajay and Morgan find conference chairs to my left while Harish and Jason choose the leather couch to be closer to the box of See’s chocolates. I can hear the candy wrappers rustling as Oliver starts to speak. “What have you uncovered with your investigation?” I decide ‘careful’ is the right approach, “Mr. Pastell, Oliver, we understand that this is your first major project as the CEO, is that correct?” Oliver is obviously discomforted by the question, “Yes it is.” I follow with, “In fact, you only recently returned to Los Empresas and took control of Pastells after your brother was killed in a private plane crash.” Oliver leans forward, hands on desk, “What does that have to do with Project Uplift?” Just then Jason blurts out, “Project Uplift died because you didn’t make the timely decisions on project direction when they were needed, a clear case of Death by Indecision.” So much for a ‘careful’ approach. Oliver looks at Jason, then Harish, Ajay, Morgan and finally me. It is clear to him that we all agree with Jason that he is suffering from severe Analysis Paralysis. Finally he speaks, “Ever since that night I learned Project Uplift had died, I had a nagging feeling it was my fault. How can I avoid this in the future?”   As always, we are prepared to help keep Project Killers at bay and I hand Oliver a reprint of a decision making article from David Ingram:

Identify Problems

The first step in the process is to recognize that there is a decision to be made. Decisions are not made arbitrarily; they result from an attempt to address a specific problem, need or opportunity.

Seek Information

Managers seek out a range of information to clarify their options once they have identified an issue that requires a decision. Managers may seek to determine potential causes of a problem, the people and processes involved in the issue and any constraints placed on the decision-making process.

Brainstorm Solutions

Having a more complete understanding of the issue at hand, managers move on to make a list of potential solutions. This step can involve anything from a few seconds of thought to a few months or more of formal collaborative planning, depending on the nature of the decision and the time allotted to make it.

Choose an Alternative

Managers weigh the pros and cons of each potential solution, seek additional information if needed and select the option they feel has the best chance of success at the least cost. Consider seeking outside advice if you have gone through all the previous steps on your own; asking for a second opinion can provide a new perspective on the problem and your potential solutions.

Implement the Plan

There is no time to second guess yourself when you put your decision into action. Once you have committed to putting a specific solution in place, get all of your employees on board and put the decision into action with conviction. That is not to say that a managerial decision cannot change after it has been enacted; savvy managers put monitoring systems in place to evaluate the outcomes of their decisions.

Evaluate Outcomes

Even the most experienced business owners can learn from their mistakes. Always monitor the results of strategic decisions you make as a small business owner; be ready to adapt your plan as necessary, or to switch to another potential solution if your chosen solution does not work out the way you expected.

We stand to leave, and Oliver walks with us to the door. I turn to him with one last piece of advice, “The most valuable decisions are not only well informed, but are also timely as well.” As the door closes behind me, I smell the unmistakable scent of dark chocolate enrobed salted caramel from the stolen box of Sees. It is delicious!

This case is closed.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Illustration created and provided by Jonathan Pike, eVerge Group IT Specialist.

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Project Killers: An Ode to Death by Documentation

project_killers

The story below illustrates one of the most common project killers – documentation for the sake of documenting, performed at the expense of making true progress towards project completion.

This is the story of one Guru Kumar, a brightly shining Acme PMO star.

Guru was an expert on SDLC, RTM, UML, and Rational Technology

Microsoft Office, and Visio, and Plan, were as familiar to Guru as his right hand

So as soon as the project began, everyone knew Guru would be the ‘man’

First he redid the requirements list, just in case an item was missed

He re-estimated the tasks with pep, to ensure the Plan would have each step

To prevent any false move, every document would be doubly approved

And Guru proved that he could wait, even when the approvers missed the approval date

Days turned to weeks with no code begun, but the documents piled up one by one

Requirements Traceability in 2 different views, Gap Analysis for every screen to be used

Scenarios, Use Cases, Success Metrics and more, each crafted with greater care than the one before

Next came the RAID, test cases, and executive summaries too, each with redundancy about what the project would do

The project team once eager to get started, became very quickly broken hearted

The project with such potential for return, was just about certain to crash and burn

Some dared to ask wouldn’t it be smarter, to start instead with a Project Charter?

That document defines the scope and rules, defines what will be done and what will be the tools

And surely, wasn’t enough about the project known, that the first seeds of a Project Plan could have been sown?

That the other docs would be needed there was no doubt, but would it have been possible to spread them out?

At last Guru felt that the documents were created, but to his dismay found that the team hadn’t waited

New priorities in the Acme business had been found, and some from the team were no longer around

The budget for the project was almost all spent, the investigation begun into where the money went

Guru Kumar found to his dismay that Project Killers are always eager to hold sway

Guru learned that no matter how hard he was working, Death by Documentation is always lurking

He found that the method that works the best, the method that has been tried and passed the test

Is to keep in mind that the project objective is best achieved when you are selective

About the documents you think you need, and discard the rest like a noxious weed

Only create them when needed and ensure that they are living as long as the project endures

Cry not for Guru, his bridge wasn’t burned; Acme realized the lessons he had learned

The Acme PMO once again has a brightest star, the much wiser, and less busy, Guru Kumar.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Illustration created and provided by Jonathan Pike, eVerge Group IT Specialist.

 

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Project Killers: The Path to On Time, On Budget and In Scope

project_killersA new IT project has been initiated. The CRM system is going to be upgraded and integrated. Visions of new capabilities and increased profits fill the waking hours of the CEO and the VP of Sales. By day the CIO appears to share in that dream, but while everyone else sleeps, the CIO is visited by the nightmares of projects from the past where deadlines were missed, cost overruns were the norm, and a severe reduction in project scope was inevitable. Sometimes, when the nightmares are the scariest, the CIO even allows his psyche to relive the horrors of several projects that were complete failures. Meanwhile the IT Project Management Office, the Business Analysts, the System Architects, and the Developers stare in disbelief at the list of approved requirements and the approved budget and timeline for the project and sadly shake their heads. “Do they even have a window in that ivory tower?” they mutter. To all but the most uninitiated, the project is dead on arrival. How did this happen, how can it be prevented in the future?

Successful IT projects can no longer be optional or left to chance. Due to the inseparable integration of IT and the rest of the business, the success of IT at any business is the success of the business. We are taking a fun and somewhat irreverent look during the next few postings at the Project Killers in our midst and how the white knights in business and IT can vanquish them in as part of a successful project.   These Project Killers are usually easy and inexpensive to avoid, yet most of us have fallen victim to one or more of them:

  1. Dead on Arrival (a.k.a. DOA) – A project without the proper estimations for time and resources somehow is initiated
  2. Death by Documentation (a.k.a. strangled in red tape) – A great deal of time and effort goes into plans, requirement documents, and design documents with no real benefit to the project
  3. Death by Indecision (a.k.a. analysis paralysis in its milder forms) – Key project decisions are delayed or avoided altogether
  4. Death in Unchartered Lands (a.k.a. scope creep) – The participants, stakeholders, scope, and methods, are never agreed to formally when the project starts. If you don’t know where you’re going, most any road will take you there – but it may take a lot longer and cost a lot more!
  5. Sudden Unplanned Death (a.k.a. running into a dead end) – risks are not properly identified and mitigated
  6. Death by Starvation (a.k.a. bottlenecks) – resources are not properly identified and allocated

Many projects are Dead On Arrival – DOA.   Often this happens because the actual amount that would have to be invested to achieve the expected results is significant enough to reduce the return on investment to a level that is no longer acceptable. So instead of a fair estimate for a reasonable gain in productivity/reduction in cost, companies and their suppliers “tweak” the estimates to be more favorable – the delivered system is estimated to bring more benefit, the investment in licensing and maintenance costs is underestimated, the resources required – both internal and external to the company – are estimated at reduced levels, and all of that will happen during an accelerated time line! Perhaps this has happened to you once or twice?   Perhaps you have even had the project approved based on those over and under estimations to find that you can’t even get the project successfully started – in other words, the project is DOA.

If your corporate culture is geared to delivering a number of DOA projects, you can break the cycle and get back to successful IT projects that deliver fully on their promised benefits, on time, and within budget. Here are the simple and inexpensive steps to avoid a DOA project.

Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick any 2: This is a great way to prevent DOA projects. First, define ‘Good’ – what is the real problem that you are trying to solve – increased productivity, cost avoidance, customer satisfaction, employee morale, competitive advantage, new legislation, etc.? How much is solving that problem worth to your company – try hard to put it into dollars and cents! Next, define ‘Fast’ – is there an event on the horizon that dictates the release date? You should consider product releases, fiscal years, acquisitions, competitive activity, corporate recognition programs and national meetings, and meeting legal requirements among other time related drivers. Finally, define ‘Cheap’ – based on preliminary estimates what is the maximum amount of money you are willing and able to invest in the system? When putting together the project, simply remember that you will always be able to have only 2 out of Good, Fast, and Cheap. If you want a complete, high quality solution (Good) and you need it quickly (Fast) it will NOT be inexpensive (Cheap). If you want a high quality solution (Good) and you want it to be inexpensive (Cheap) it will NOT be Fast! Finally, if you want it Fast and Cheap, it will NOT be Good!

In today’s IT environment where the pace of innovation is constantly accelerating, few if any businesses can afford to choose Good and Cheap at the expense of Fast – the project delivery will be so far in the future that the envisioned benefit may not be realized (and we have seen this happen!). So that leaves just 2 choices – Good and Fast; and Cheap and Fast. That is why it is so important to carefully define ‘Good’ and ‘Cheap’ initially. If your definition of Cheap is significantly fewer dollars than Good (project has a high ROI) then pick Good and Fast and recognize that your investment may be higher than estimated. If your definition of Good and Cheap are closer together, consider breaking the project into smaller, quicker wins and choose Cheap and Fast to keep to budget with a partial solution. Finally, if your definition of Good is less than your definition of Cheap realize that the ROI for the project will most likely be break even or negative and only proceed where required by legal or business conditions and choose Good and Fast since it is likely that you are proceeding only in the cases where you need a quality, complete solution in a hurry. In this scenario, expect to invest more than you initially thought you would.

Remember “Good, Fast, Cheap pick any 2” and your projects will be vital and alive at inception. Avoiding the other Project Killers can be just as easy. We will discuss the process over the next few postings to this blog.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Keys to CRM System Adoption: Executive Involvement and Commitment

In previous articles in this series we pointed out that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. In subsequent articles we described the drivers to user adoption, and the best ways to make them part of your corporate DNA. This is the final article in this series.

An old joke:   What is it that no man wants but no man wants to lose? A bald head! It seems that we could easily paraphrase this to fit the topic. What is it that no Executive uses but no Executive wants to lose? A CRM system! It has been proven over and over in thousands of CRM implementations (in fact in just about any corporate initiative) that the number one success factor in the implementation is early commitment to the system and early adoption of the system by the Executive team. It is the #1 success factor for 2 reasons; 1.) The commitment leads to adequate funding and resources, and 2.) The adoption by the Executives drives adoption by the other employees in the company.   Unfortunately, many CRM systems deliver far less value than they should because the Executives, who committed millions of dollars to the system in hopes of a healthy improvement to the bottom line, never fully commit to or adopt the system. Ask any executive at a company with a comprehensive investment in a troubled CRM system if they want to lose the information and functionality that it provides and you will get 2 answers, both start with NO! You will either hear; “NO! We have the right system and we get some valuable information, we just need more participation.” or you will hear “NO! We are evaluating a new system that will be easier to use so that we can get more information and functionality.”

Assuming that they have addressed the other factors that drive user adoption (Pay for Play, EASE, and Coaching) it can be safe to say that if the CRM system is still suffering from user adoption issues (to mangle Shakespeare) the fault, dear executives, lies not in your users but in yourselves. This can be quickly and easily fixed, but it means that executives, who likely brought the change of a CRM system to the company, will have to move to the front and lead that change!

Another old joke to demonstrate the difference between commitment and involvement: At a bacon and egg breakfast – the pig was committed and the chicken was involved. Executives must be committed and demonstrate it by:

  1. Including the CRM system as a budget category for all business departments
  2. Creating channels for corporate change management messages about the system and ensuring that a pipeline of messages is queued up in each channel
  3. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to develop the system
  4. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to train the users
  5. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to maintain and improve the system
  6. Committing to joining and participating in industry councils
  7. Committed to the CRM System to gain a sustainable advantage in the marketplace
  8. Commit to be a key member of the executive steering committee

Executives must adopt the system and demonstrate it by:

  1. Personally using the system for forecasting, quota management, and pipeline analysis (sales). This means, no ‘one off’ out of the system spreadsheets or databases with layers of analysts between the executives and the rest of the user community
  2. Using the system for measuring performance to SLA’s, customer satisfaction, cost of service, and cross sell revenue (service)
  3. Using the system to see the ROI and effectiveness of marketing campaigns and to understand the handoff from marketing to sales and finally to service
  4. Using the system for the corporate intranet, internal communications, file transfers and storage, collaboration, and event management

Most importantly, you have to do all this with a smile on your face (and in your heart!) and you have to be the first in line to do it! Here is a quick check list of questions to ask yourself as an executive:

  1. Am I leading the change management effort for the CRM system?g. Did I organize and chair the committee? Am I involved daily in promoting the system in some way?
  2. Am I the best trained user in the company?
  3. Do I get 100% of my analyses from the CRM system for Sales, Service, and Marketing?
  4. Do I have a road map for what improvements need to be made and when to make them? Do I even have a process in place for continuous system improvement?
  5. Do my teams see me using the system proficiently?

Final old joke: Doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Ask yourself, “Did I invest millions in a CRM system, expect everyone else to change, while I remained the same and still get different results?” Instead, isn’t it time to pick up the flag, face the line of retreating users, and charge right back at the competition with a renewed commitment to the system and a promise to be the first and most important adopter!

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Keys to CRM System Adoption: EASE

Previously we’ve seen that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Are you one of the many companies that have invested millions in software licenses, maintenance, and services to install a CRM application, but haven’t invested the time and energy to create a true CRM Culture – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers? While all of the components of your CRM System are critical, your CRM Culture cannot be created without your Employee users.

Earlier articles outline the 5 key areas to investigate and correct if you are having an employee-system adoption issue: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching. We have already discussed pay for play, and coaching in earlier postings. It is time to look at the importance of the EASE formula as it relates to system adoption.

Fear and Love are great personal motivators, but employees can’t be expected to always respond professionally to them (e.g. if they fear for their job, they may find a new one rather than do more work in a current one). The best professional motivators, the ones that encourage employees (and customers as well) to act are those that fit the EASE formula. That is, the new course of action must be: Effective (or more effective than the current course of action); Accurate (or more accurate than the current course of action); Speedier (time to result is less than the current course of action); Economical (costs less than the current course of action). Of course, EASE implies that this effective, accurate, speedy, and economical course will also be easy to follow.   If you have an adoption problem, you most likely have not applied the EASE formula to fix it.   Here is the corrective action we recommend.

  1. Is your CRM system effective in doing what it is supposed to do? Remember that the goal of every CRM system is to get the right person/offer, in front of the right customer, at the right time, with the right information. Everyone’s favorite radio station is WWID-FM (what will it do for me). If your employees use the system are they more effective at selling and thereby making more sales and money while better meeting customer needs and situation? Are they more effective at providing customer service and satisfying the customer? If you have truly designed to the system to make your sales and service channels more effective, has that message been sent clearly to your teams?
  2. Is the data (base and transactional) in your system accurate? Can sales users rely on the territory alignments, the sales figures, the lead assignments, the compensation comparisons, and the pipeline and forecast analysis? Is your knowledge base for customer service current and complete? Do you enrich, standardize, and cleanse the base data for customers. Have you done a complete job of transforming and incorporating data from acquired and sunset systems?
  3. Is your CRM system fast? Is your CRM system performance optimized? Have you minimized the clicks to result? Have you eliminated wasteful cycles that were added in different times and are now obsolete? Are you persisting with complex coverage models that slow down the assignment process? Are you persisting with complex compensation models that slow down reporting on results?
  4. Are you treating your CRM system like a cost center or a selling/service investment? Are you limiting access to the system to only a few employees due to the cost of the user licenses? Do you have success metrics in place to show the return on investment in the system and are you focused on the customer as a way to improving those measurements?

Finally, is your system easy to use? Can it be accessed from multiple devices for many purposes? Have employees been trained and re-trained to use it in the context of their roles? Have you looked at it from both a function and usability perspective?

You can begin to eliminate your adoption issues if you apply the EASE formula – make sure the system is effective, accurate, speedy, and economical and wrap that in an easy to use package. The value of your system grows exponentially with each dedicated user and once it becomes part of your culture, adoption issues disappear completely.

 

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Keys to CRM System Adoption – Pay for Play

In a previous article, we discussed how high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. This article is another on what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Pay for Play is a sophisticated version of the “carrot” (positive action or reward) that many organizations routinely use to influence employee behavior. It is well documented that employees take behavioral clues from the compensation and reward/recognition programs offered by the company. In short, if you want an employee to play the game (i.e. use the CRM Application) by the company rules, you must pay them to do so. If your company is experiencing user adoption problems for your CRM Application, investigate whether or not your compensation and/or rewards and recognition programs have a neutral or even worse, a negative impact on user adoption. Start the investigation with these questions:

  1. Is use of the CRM Application specifically mentioned in the compensation agreement established with all employees who are licensed to use it?
  2. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically detailed in the company’s rewards and recognition programs for these employees?
  3. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically part of formal employee reviews?

Next ask these questions:

  1. Is there any portion of the compensation plan that might conflict with use expert use of the CRM Application? For example, are sales reps compensated for the number of calls rather than the quality of calls? Are Customer Service Representatives paid strictly on improving measures such as average handle time, average talk time, and calls per hour?
  2. Is there any portion of the rewards and recognition program that would encourage using non-standard business process to earn recognition or a reward? For example, are sales reps inadvertently rewarded for their own prospecting disproportionately instead of following up on marketing leads? Can a Customer Service Representative be rewarded for using unofficial channels to resolve a common customer issue?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of the first 3 questions and ‘Yes’ to either or both of the last 2 questions, then by definition you have a Pay for Play problem that might be the source of reduced user adoption for your CRM Application. The good news is that you have found the issue; the bad news is that finding that there is a problem is easier than pinpointing the various solutions that it will remove these roadblocks from user adoption.

If you have found from the analysis in questions 1, 2 and 3 that you are not rewarding the use of the CRM Application, your company is faced with the need to create compensation plans that reward this desired behavior. That is usually a difficult task for any organization because it is difficult to establish the value of the enhanced information and benefits from a new or re-released CRM Application. In addition most companies are already at either an optimal or even sub-optimal compensation ratio, so adding even a little more cost to employee compensation is difficult to manage. This is where the importance of having executive sponsorship and comprehensive system planning prove to be so important. The return on investment planned for the system should be adjusted for any planned increase in compensation costs. In addition, a change to the compensation program that is concurrent with a CRM Application release can send a powerful message that a system is being put in place to enhance customer experience.

If it truly isn’t possible to make immediate changes to the compensation program to provide financial rewards for expert use of the CRM Application, then be sure to include recognition in any local/regional/corporate recognition programs. While this is not the most effective Pay for Play option, it can be very effective if done correctly.

Some creative suggestions for rewarding CRM Application usage that have been successfully used:

Compensation:

  • Create a rating system for effective usage and tie a certain portion of future base pay increases to positive ratings
  • Offer different rates of incentive compensation (commissions) based on the way a sale is documented in the CRM Application
  • Offer compensation to employees who convince current customers to act as references and document this properly in the CRM Application

Recognition:

  • Create a rating system for effective usage of the CRM Application and award employees who consistently attain those levels a small memento/award that they could not obtain any other way than through this program
  • Set aside a small portion of every rewards ceremony to recognize effective CRM Application usage

Finally, if you discover that your current compensation and/or recognition programs discourage CRM Application usage, take the opportunity to modify this with any new or re-release of the CRM Application. If this cuts across the grain of your current company culture, remember you are introducing the CRM System to build a new customer oriented culture and this is certainaly the best place to start.

Remember, if you truly believe in the CRM system and continue with the appropriate levels of commitment, the cost of the additional rewards and compensation will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company. In addition the message sent throughout the organization will help enhanced Customer Experience become part of your company culture.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Keys to CRM System Adoption: Coaching

High rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Many companies invest millions in software licenses and services to install a CRM application, but don’t invest the time and energy to create a CRM System – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers. Each part of the system is critical to the system, with none more critical than the Employee users.

When Employee users eagerly use and contribute to the CRM system, user adoption is high. When Employee users do not use, or incorrectly use the system user adoption rates are low. When adoption rates are high, companies must persist on the system planning and implementation path that they have outlined to maintain and upgrade the system over time. When adoption rates are low, companies must pause and analyze the issues and take immediate corrective action. This is the first in a series of articles that detail what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Coaching may be the least understood duty that is assigned to any manager in any organization. Coaching is the ability to demonstrate and inculcate a skill as it will be used in the organization. It should not be confused with Training, Motivation, Leadership, or Management of Resources – each of these is an important duty for organization Managers, but they are not “Coaching”. Unfortunately, many organizations and the Managers in that organization DO confuse one or all of these skills for Coaching. This is particularly detrimental to CRM Application user adoption. Throwing money and bodies at the CRM Application and making speeches about the benefits will not increase the skill level of the Employee users. Even application training is only marginally effective. The only proven way to increase the employee skill level successfully on a CRM Application is for the appropriate person, which more than 95% of the time is the direct Manager of the employee, to Coach the employee on the application. Raising the employee skill level, making the employee more comfortable with the application, is a key to user adoption.

In the Carew course on Selling Skills Coaching[1], the Coaching process has 4 distinct steps:

  1. Demonstrate the skill to the employee
  2. Assist the employee in attempting the skill
  3. Allow the employee to practice the skill in a supportive, protected environment
  4. Monitor and give feedback on the employee’s skill level in day to day activities

Demonstrate the skill: This means that each Manager on the Management team must be able to use the CRM application with enough proficiency that they can fully demonstrate it to their direct reports. For example, Sales Managers must be able to do everything in the CRM application that they are expecting their team members to do – e.g. handle leads, manage opportunities, create quotes, submit orders, update contact level information, etc. This level of proficiency is gained by including the Managers early in the requirements gathering phase, the design and development process, the testing phase, and by involving them in intensive application training and train the trainer sessions prior to the release of the application.

Assist the employee in attempting the skill: Each Manager should be at every roll-out/training session for the CRM application when his/her team is involved. The Manager will demonstrate the CRM application in the context of the business model for his/her team. They will assist each employee in completing a real world use case. They will answer business questions and questions about application design and functionality. They will also be able to do this when a new employee is added to the team after the CRM Application roll-out.

Allow the employee to practice the skill: After assisting the employee on the first use case, the Manager allows the employee to practice on similar use cases. The Manager evaluates the progress, provides positive feedback for each correct step, and makes suggestions for improvement when appropriate. Finally, the Manager recognizes and congratulates the employee on having attained a skill level sufficient to begin using it in live business processes.

Monitor and give feedback: The best and only effective way to monitor progress on a CRM Application is for the Manager to use the application! Printed reports and spreadsheets send a very negative message to the employees when used for this purpose. Employees want to feel that they have enriched the organization and improved the business through their actions in the CRM Application, the best way to do this is for the Manager to demonstrate that his/her decisions are being driven by the information in the system. Managers who use the system are much better able to evaluate the performance of their teams on the CRM Application than those who do not.

The creation or re-release of a CRM system involves a great deal more than the installation of a CRM Application. If the CRM Application is not used properly, or not used at all, then the system has a greatly diminished value. Coaching is one of five key drivers to Employee user adoption. Make sure that as you are planning your CRM System you enable Coaching in your organization change management plans.

  1. Involve all Management levels in requirements, design, prototypes, and testing.
  2. Conduct intense training and train the trainer sessions (and include Coaching training if it is not already part of your Management training curriculum) for all managers before general release
  3. Involve the Managers in all direct rollout activities to their teams
  4. Make training environments available to the organization
  5. Ensure that Managers can work in the CRM Application to accomplish the vast majority of the business process cycles they manage.
  6. Ensure that employee onboarding is not considered complete until the Coaching process has progressed to step 4.

The cost of these activities will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company, and the Coaching skills you give to your Managers will be used many, many times in other business processes and become part of your Customer Experience driven culture.

[1] http://www.carew.com/selling-skills-coaching.php

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin