To succeed in the Age of the Customer, IT leaders that that support “front-office” business processes cannot afford failed technology initiatives. Traditionally, IT organizations have existed to support internal operations but in today’s world, the technology leaders must play a key role when it comes to delivering solutions that support better external customer experiences.

With business partners in need of help, it’s up to technology leaders to help identify and deliver solutions that will give their companies a competitive edge. This fall, Forrester will host a Forum for Application Development & Delivery Professionals that will focus specifically on the top technologies, skills and practices you will need to take a leadership role in the development of world-class customer experiences at your company. At the Forum, I will sharing findings from new research about the types and prevalence of the CRM pitfalls that you need to navigate,

Working in partnership with CustomerThink, Forrester collected opinions from over 600 individuals who had been involved in a CRM technology project as a business professional in Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, or IT. Last week, I reported in this blog that our data show that CRM technology deployments require a balanced and multi-faceted approach which addresses four critical fundamentals: process, people, strategy, and technology.

CRM processes consist of the work practices associated with major customer-facing business functions in your organization. For example, marketing, eCommerce, direct sales, partner sales, customer service, and field service. Increasingly, organizations are striving to orchestrate processes across business functions to deliver better customer experiences. They look to CRM solutions to "connect the dots" across the organization.

However, immature business processes are the biggest risk factor for CRM technology projects. In our survey, 44% agreed they faced “business process problems” that were roadblocks to  the effective use of CRM technology solutions to achieve better business outcomes

Specifically, within the CRM business processes category, the pitfalls to watch out are: inadequately defined business requirements (55%), poor business process design (40%), and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements (37%)

What does this mean?

  •  Define business requirements so you don't navigate blind. Technologists have an important role to play in helping business leaders understand how to take advantage of CRM technologies. In most organizations, however, business leaders are accountable for delivering profit and loss. Business executives who own and manage the customer-facing processes that impact organization success metrics should lead CRM initiatives.
  •  Lock down process designs before applying technology. Sound business process designs are the foundation for effective workflows. Individuals with business process expertise must validate designs before requirements are incorporated in technology release plans.