CRM Implementation Horror Stories

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Despite the maturity of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market, there are still many CRM Implementation horror stories. Why? In this post we’ll look at some of the main reasons that CRM implementations fail.

No CRM Strategy

Although there is a strong link between customer experience and the supporting technology, a CRM implementation alone won’t result in more satisfied customers.

Organisations need to explore and clarify the exact problems that they want their CRM solution to solve by setting out clear goals and objectives before embarking on a CRM implementation.

Investing time up-front, before you even engage a potential supplier, in defining your ‘To Be’ processes and ways of working, will pay dividends in your software and vendor selection.

No Effective Executive Sponsorship

Finding the right executive to sponsor your CRM implementation is almost as crucial as choosing the correct software. The day-to-day implementation and on-going running of the CRM system will reside with the project team and system owner, however, the executive sponsor should have key tasks and responsibilities, such as:

  • Obtaining board approval on the organisations strategy and objectives for the system.
  • Involvement in software and vendor selection, business case sign-off as well as any “Go / No Go” decisions.
  • Agreeing the functional priorities and phases for implementation.
  • Ensuring that goals, objectives and project milestones are well communicated throughout the project.
  • Ensuring project updates are communicated to the executive team and key stakeholders effectively.
  • Assessing and determining changes raised by the project.
  • Recognising and celebrating project successes and early wins.
  • Continual review of the CRM system against evolving business plans and situations.

Poor User Adoption

Poor user adoption can thwart the success of even the most professionally implemented CRM solution. Below are just a few reasons as to why your teams are not engaging with your CRM:

  • Not getting influential employees and potential saboteurs engaged in the project.
  • Not involving these key stakeholders in the early design and planning stages of the project.
  • Lack of training for staff, managers and ‘power users’.
  • Lack of explaining what substantial changes to internal processes there will be.
  • Not communicating how CRM is going to improve their work and make their lives better/easier.

Weak Project Team

Building the right project team will be crucial to a successful implementation of a CRM solution. Include the right people, give them the time and authority to complete project tasks, and make sure all team members are committed to the project’s success. This is particularly important in small to medium sized organisations where most or all of the project team will be assigned this project in addition to their existing duties. Make sure that team members are allowed to spend the appropriate amount of time to make the project a success.

At a basic level, you should include:

  • Project manager: Project management experience is a must, and ideally, they should have experience with the primary areas where the software is to be used.
  • Subject Matter Experts: From all key user groups e.g. Sales, Marketing, Customer Service
  • Application analyst: responsible for data migration and cleansing
  • Application developer: in charge of system customisation
  • User Acceptance Testing Lead: heads up testing efforts

Other roles will be brought in as the project progresses such as administrators, testers, CRM Champions to name a few. For more information read our A to Z of CRM Implementation.

Choosing the Wrong Software and Supplier

There are many CRM solutions, technologies and vendors to choose from globally. Choosing the right supplier and CRM solution is just the beginning of a successful CRM implementation and so it’s crucial to get the right combination. For most organisations, the range of possible solutions and the range of possible suppliers is dauntingly vast.

What works for one organisation may not work for another. Therefore, it’s important to look for a solution that meets your requirements.

Key aspects to consider:


Whilst CRM software can be powerful in its own right, integrating your CRM with other tools and applications across your organisation can give you a 360-degree view of your customers. Be sure to consider a CRM system that could integrate with your ERP system, your email and calendaring systems as well as marketing tools such as Mailchimp. It’s important to take into consideration that with any CRM system, although you currently might not need that integration with another system, you may need it in the future.


No two organisations are the same and it is unlikely an off-the-shelf product will match how you operate exactly. Look for a solution that can be adapted to reflect your processes, including personalised dashboards, reports and workflows.


Many software solutions offer standardised reports, however, the option to customise them or build your own will prove invaluable. Look out for CRM business intelligence tools such as power BI, business insights and KPI reporting.


With flexible and remote working on the rise, mobility is a significant driver for the adoption of business software. Look for a CRM solution with cloud or mobile accessibility, enabling secure, anytime anywhere access.

Complex Requirements and Big Bang Approach

Deploying a CRM solution across every department at once, especially in a complex working environment is probably not the best way to implement your CRM solution.

It’s often better to develop and rollout the solution in a series of self-contained, albeit connected, packages of work in staged phases. The benefits of this method are many but, principally, a staged approach helps:

  • Minimise the risks and the impact the solution might have on your business as usual activities;
  • Deliver some early project wins in a shorter timeframe, meaning that users get an early chance to work with it, and the business also starts to generate ROI right away; and,
  • Users are able to provide feedback on any issues or changes required during the project journey as opposed to at the end.

Changing Your Processes to Suit the CRM

Always start with process and not with software.  The right software should match your process and improve productivity, you shouldn’t be changing the way you do things in your business just to fit a new software product. All processes should be mapped out and written down in advance; from acquiring a customer through to project delivery and customer support.

It is always advisable to try to evolve and improve processes as part of a digital transformation, but not necessarily because of your software choice.

Lack of Support

Ensuring that you have people internally as well as externally to support your CRM in-life is crucial, as is the support contract that you have with your CRM vendor.

Internal Support

Deploying CRM champions and administrators in each department not only helps with user adoption, but can help to minimise support calls to your IT department and ultimately your software partner. These people quickly become experts on the CRM solution and can iron out training issues and teething troubles quickly. They can also help to reduce early user frustrations that can build up if left unchecked.

External Support

A good supplier should invest time in the early stages of a CRM deployment in training users, or even train the trainer for larger implementations and be available to answer questions and fix issues that will inevitably occur in the first few days and weeks of a CRM implementation. Over time the supplier should still be able to react in good time to change requests and genuine faults. It is imperative that all of these service levels are discussed and agreed during the procurement stages of any CRM solution.

If you would like to discuss your business challenges and how ViewPointCRM can help your organisation, please get in touch with our expert team today or book a demo.