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Hand in Hand: Why Project Management Leads to Successful CRM Implementation

CRM software has matured in the higher education environment, from a means to engage prospects into a tool for lifetime engagement. But while CRM holds the promise of tremendous benefits for your institution, success is not guaranteed. CRM, especially in the corporate world, has had a notoriously low rate of success, causing untold losses in dollars, time and morale. Such failure may be a matter of charging ahead without a good game plan or from siloing (when the CRM solution is sponsored or adopted by one unit of the organization without reference to the needs or goals of other units).

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of selecting a technology solution that aligns with organizational goals and requirements. Beyond this, the management of the project is a key determinant to whether CRM will advance your mission or weigh you down.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management

What makes it “Successful”?
What makes CRM Project Management successful is much like what makes CRM holistic. At its heart, a CRM system is a technology that enables and enhances the management of the engagement of student.  Success is achieved by achieving the organizational change capable of leveraging the technology and adding value to the student. Although this change can be focused on one area – say, engagement of prospective students – the big value is achieved when CRM provides a broad view of how an individual interacts with your institution from prospect to applicant to student to alumnus and everything in between. Therefore, the approach to CRM Project Management must take a broad view, as well, and identify how all of the areas of the organization will benefit, participate in, and organizational change from the project.

As you can imagine, implementing CRM is not just a technical matter, it is an organizational change issue. At issue are a wide spectrum of factors: What are your institutional goals and expectations? What is the right level of cost and ROI? How do you get different users and groups to buy in to change, adopt the technology and work together? Project management puts these organizational issues first, and builds a technology solution to serve your institution, rather than the other way around.

To implement a CRM solution is a major decision for your institution. Before you commit your precious human and capital resources, be sure to think about the desired results and ensure your team clearly sees the new picture of the organization after the project.


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