CRM projects need dedicated leaders

When implementing a CRM solution, companies should appoint a project leader � a single person who is accountable

for the success of a CRM rollout. Sometimes, however, companies do not insure that this project leader has both the authority and the available time to lead the project effectively. Whomever you choose to champion the rollout of your CRM initiative, assure that this person has both the necessary clout in the organization to make people adhere to their promised deliverables and the free time in his or her schedule to devote at least half of each day to the project. Be emphatic that the CRM project is the top priority. Who should you select? The CIO or Director of Information Services can be a good choice, but only if it is clear that other technology-related projects in the organization will have a lower priority for some period of time. The reality of the IT world these days is that there are not enough skilled personnel. Therefore, other projects must take a back seat if you want to deploy resources to the CRM rollout. Typically, it is a bad idea to give the CRM project manager responsibility to someone at the vice president level. Why? They have far too much on their plates already. The result will be delegation of key tasks to people too far down the organization chart to hold other people accountable. Another option to consider is contracting with an outside consultant to manage the implementation. This choice has four distinct advantages: (1) The consultant is getting paid by the hour; therefore, it's to the company's advantage to do the tasks required quickly; (2) The consultant will have few other tasks to distract them; (3) The consultant is from the outside, so he doesn't have to worry about internal company politics; and (4) He will have experience in this type of project. The individual you select to manage your CRM project is a personal decision. There is no one correct choice � only the choice that is best for your company. But to undertake a CRM initiative without a project manager is positioning your company for a CRM failure. Stephen Brooks is director of product management at MultiActive Software Inc., http://www.multiactive.com

This was first published in September 2000

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