Answer

Buyers should seek IT guidance for CRM deployments

The key criteria around choosing CRM software might be driven from business requirements, but should IT play an integral role in this initiative? How do we go about approaching this?

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When approaching the selection of CRM software, companies need a customer-centered business strategy in place and a thorough understanding of the CRM processes that support the strategy.

IT should be part of that support, with staffers working as trusted advisers on how to go about the implementation of the CRM software and services that will support the business plans. However, the reality is that IT often (incorrectly) drives the CRM initiative.

If you have a CRM initiative run by a line-of-business leader inside the company, IT should be in on the planning from the beginning, making suggestions based on how the business units define their requirements. IT can help fine-tune the requirements by saying, "That's your requirement, and we'll look to see if it can be fulfilled." In other words, IT can operate as a realistic brake on the expectations that the line-of-business folks have on how the program or project can be supported.  

Thus the relationship becomes symbiotic. I'm not suggesting that this is all that IT does. Ultimately, IT pros are going to have to be responsible for technology selection and implementation, and that is best left in their hands -- or with the outside firm they are using. But all in all they can be involved with the line-of-business leaders from the beginning as a partner.

This was first published in August 2011

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