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Accenture : you need to implement CRM TWICE

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Home » Blog » Accenture : you need to implement CRM TWICE

The Directors Cut

There is a great ebook that Accenture has written called The Director’s Cut. The thrust behind it is:

How do movie directors create new value with their previously released films? They issue a “director’s cut”— a revised, updated version of a previously released movie over which the director has complete artistic control. In issuing an original film, directors battle against deadlines, budgets, resource constraints and movie studio executives who sometimes demand a different product than the director’s original vision. But with the advent of new technologies, new marketing opportunities and newly available funds and resources, a director has the opportunity to revisit his original idea and deliver a new and stronger film.

How does this apply to CRM and Salesforce? Well, for the larger and complex implementations, the first project is the struggle to configure, build integrations and convert data. Engaging end users, redesigning processes, training and driving adoption are all chopped out of the plan in the scramble to go live within budget. The second attempt at the implementation – The Director’s Cut – addresses all these softer factors.  BTW The client pays for the second project too.

Sounds familiar?  It is beautifully written but a very sad story. Unfortunately, the ebook was written in 2002.

Cloud changes very little

The only difference that I can see between 2002 and now is that the apps are in the cloud. There are still the project failures. Cloud eliminates the hardware procurement and software installation.  Everything else you would have found in Accenture’s project plan in the 2002 is still  required.

In fact, I dusted off the Andersen Consulting (Accenture) Method/1 implementation methodology for Packaged Systems Selection & Design and Packaged Systems Installation – dated 1992.  Of the 17 major work packages, ONLY ONE can be eliminated because of the cloud – Hardware and software installation.

So why are we still failing to implement CRM and drive a tangible ROI first time, on time, on budget?  Despite the CRM vendors best efforts to fix them before they hit the news – there are still issues out there. So don’t buy the “cloud implementations are super easy” line. Implementations that are going to deliver real benefits are still going to need to change the hearts and minds of a large number of people. Marketing, sales admin, inside sales, field sales and management will all need to work slightly differently, using different systems. This change management is a big factor in adoption and ROI. It is hasn’t changed with the cloud. So there are still failures out there.

But this is cloud’s dirty little secret. With the cloud annuity revenue model, it is in the CRM vendor’s best interest to do what ever it takes to shore up or fix the implementation. The Customer Success team goes around mopping up the tears after the implementation consultants have left – often at the vendor’s own cost. But what is ironic, is that it isn’t the vendor’s fault.  The CRM software works perfectly well.  The problem is how it is being used. How it was implemented.

Here is a recent quote:

The biggest CRM failure reason I’ve seen is companies trying to implement CRM software without alignment to customer strategy or regard for changes in business processes. These companies seem to believe that the CRM software in itself will benefit the company. In reality, this approach can add value in terms of record keeping, data management and some information visibility, but it will certainly not increase customer relationships.

And another example

A problem we incurred when trying to implement our salesforce.com CRM system was not recognizing and fixing our inefficient and broken business processes before we deployed the new system. Only after we realized we were implementing far less than ideal business processes in the new CRM software did we stop the effort. This caused us to terminate a 3 month implementation, go back and revise processes and then start again. We eventually got it right, but that lesson learned cost us an extra 6 months.

So is there a better way – a proven approach?


We have many examples of customers taking a process-driven approach to implementation and getting huge benefits. Here are some success stories. These are some quotes from clients from our days at Nimbus in 2001-2011. Nimbus is a business analysis / process mapping app. The examples are all in the public domain and are all systems implementation related. None are Salesforce, because back then Salesforce implementations weren’t as established or complex in the Fortune500 which was our target market. However, our own internal implementation of Salesforce was a Salesforce Case Study.  Roll the clock forward to 2016 and Salesforce implementations are as big and risky as the examples below. So now the approach is totally relevant.

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My worst business decision

Now, this is VERY painful flashback for me.  We developed an awesome business analysis app called Nimbus Control which was used to implement the approach we have talked about. It was an on-premise solution. We charged consultants and clients to use it.  Accenture got excited and saw the potential but wanted it for free. We said no. BIG MISTAKE.  Nevertheless we had some huge client successes but how much bigger could it have been if Accenture had adopted it? We were acquired in 2011 and had a chance to step out and reflect for a few years. Nimbus is still a great product delivering value for clients.

A happy ending

In 2014 we got the founders back together and launched Elements – a business analysis app.  Essentially a reboot of Nimbus, but some fundamental differences this time:

  • free, for ever, for everyone: all the core capabilities to run a Salesforce project are free, for consultants and clients  Why not register now
  • 100% in the cloud: architected with a clean sheet, knowing what know now about the business need, built using the latest technology
  • focused on the Salesforce market: pricing means it is affordable for all 180,000 customers, not just the Fortune 500
  • tightly integrated into Salesforce: capture business processes and embed them inside objects, with single sign-on
  • headquartered in San Francisco: close to the action, but the cloud and partners means we can support clients around the world

Proven approach

So what is the “proven approach”?  It is actually quite simple. The best things often are. It is only a small difference from the way that the implementation consultants are working. But a small change in direction at the start, over time becomes a huge distance.

We are currently writing an eBook called “Analysis, Automation and Adoption for the #AwesomeAdmin” which will be out in time for Dreamforce 2016. It will explain the approach in a ton of detail.  Ping us an email and we’ll get a copy to you  success@elements.cloud

In summary the approach is:

  • You or your consultants develop a hierarchical business process map in live workshops that describes the generic end to end process. The map goes down a couple of levels and has links from process steps to the related screen in Salesforce app and other supporting materials (training, config, hints & tips).
  • You could start with one of the Elements standard maps – eg  Salesforce Sales, Salesforce Field Service – and you change it to reflect the differences in your business processes.
  • You use the map to define the customizations that are required.
  • The map is used for User Acceptance Testing of the customizations.
  • The lower levels of the map are the training material. Train the users on the business processes with links to Salesforce and other supporting hints and tips, notes and videos. This helps massively with adoption and data quality.
  • It is also used as the way to train, guide and support new employees as they come on board, at point of need.
  • If  you need support, then you can give the Salesforce Customer Success team access to the map, so that they can quickly understand how and why the app was customized. That will enable them to be more specific in their help.
  • The map is the way to generate and evaluate feedback and improvement ideas.
  • Finally it is the basis for  implementing new releases of the Salesforce or an upgrade to Lightning.

Pay for only one project

Simple really. But it all starts with a hierarchical process map – not a huge flowchart or a massive MSWord document.  And that way you pay for only one project – not two.

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