Panel: Executive Management Must Support CRM Projects

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NEW YORK -- It is imperative that a company has buy-in from executive management before launching CRM programs, customer relationship management experts speaking at a conference yesterday said.


"Most CRM projects that fail do so because of managerial causes, not technical," said Robert Burgess, group manager, CRM, at Verizon. "Lack of executive management is one of the leading culprits."


Burgess spoke on the panel "Building an Organizational Culture to Support CRM" at the 2002 Customer Relationship Management Conference, sponsored by the Conference Board.


Others on the panel were Cynthia A. Graham, vice president, customer insights and programs, JP Morgan Chase, and Thomas Wick Sr.; marketing consultant, Hewlett-Packard. Thomas M. Bodenberg, senior research associate, the Conference Board, moderated the discussion.


Burgess said that until executive management understands how CRM can transform their companies' businesses, there is little benefit in attempting to change the organization to accommodate CRM.


"It is the only group that can make that change," he said. "Executive management is the only party who can realign the organization around a new business model."


Burgess said that in order to have a successful CRM program in an organization, executive management must:


• Define the common CRM vision.


• Articulate the role of CRM in the company's future.


• Hold managers accountable for results.


• Provide necessary resources to achieve project success.


• Lead by example.


"Executive management has to walk the walk and talk the talk," he said


Wick discussed a successful CRM implementation taking place in his company right now, and said a reason for its success was the strong support it received from management.


"In our commuication to our employees, we focused on the 4 Ws," said Wick. 'Why will CRM add value to my work? What is changing through CRM in terms of processes in sales, marketing, back-office? When will the change through CRM affect me? And who initiates the change through CRM."


Wick also said that his company made an effort to communicate to its employees that CRM was being embraced by upper management.


"People need to feel top-down commitment and to have someone to turn to as a trusted adviser to cope with change," he said.


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