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Are You Getting Value Out of Your CRM?

I have previously blogged about the various Keys to Successful Project Delivery. But what about what happens after delivery? The first measure of success in a CRM project is whether the CRM is being used. That may sound rather obvious, but more than a few well-designed, expensive CRM implementations have died from disuse, only to be replaced by similar, equally disused CRMs. This scenario is quite obviously problematic for institutions and the product but also the vendor, as many times they will be blamed for the less than satisfactory outcome. With the increased focus on CRM and CRM implementations in Higher Education, it is critical that institutions answer the question of value from their CRM.

CRM concept

The Value of CRM
CRM is highly valuable to institutions and is or is beginning to become a mission-critical asset like the ERP. Success/failure of an ERP implementation is easily identified when you cannot close monthly financials, provide transcripts to students or disburse financial aid as your world quickly grinds to a halt. While the CRM automates and manages communications, workflows and relationships, it’s also brought in with the promise of understanding and improving service to students. Success of the CRM is the use of the CRM as intended. An underutilized CRM will not typically present problems with the same degree of urgency as the ERP, for instance, but you will also not see the expected value.

Applying Business Goals to CRM
So how do you know that your CRM implementation was worth it? First and foremost, the CRM implementation must be perceived through a business lens. These projects should not be thought of as merely a new technology, but rather a holistic, business implementation. Such organizational philosophical goals must be defined early on so that they can be measured in time. Of course, it must be said that measuring the success of a CRM implementation can be difficult. Certain metrics are at your disposal, but they tend to be less tangible than in other areas of your business. Therefore, “buy-in” from the people who will use the CRM is critical both to its implementation and its continued use.

How to Get the Most from Your CRM
The following tips will help your organization achieve desired results with your CRM:

  • Demonstrated value – Your users need to believe in the value of the system. They need to see that this CRM will make them more effective and improve the student experience. This is best done early in the process to show users that their feedback and support is valuable.
  • Training – Users need to be properly trained to use the system (both how and why), and given the time and support to continue improving their processes and habits.
  • Management – Leadership needs to be provided to keep CRM users engaged and motivated, and to provide the support they need. Management should also celebrate successes.

Lastly, I will leave you with a word about process metrics. It is important to build process metrics based on the desired results. For example, retention and persistence are used as a measure of student success and the process metrics will be important to ensure that the defined processes in the CRM are indeed being used and achieving the desired results. In other words, make sure that you’re able to assess along the way whether users are putting the system to use and creating value.

If the process of CRM adoption can be properly considered and planned before the actual project implementation, you’ll be well on your way to a CRM that delivers to its full potential.

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