3 reasons CRM project budgets blow out

(and 3 ways to stop it happening)

“Cool, I get the idea that a CRM is good for my business, but honestly, these projects always go over budget, so….nah, thanks”

 

Let’s talk about the elephant in the CRM room: The dreaded implementation budget blow out.

It’s the thing no-one wants to talk about, admit to experiencing, or even worse - causing. And if you’re a public or listed organisation, it’s usually a poorly kept secret thanks to media interest.

After completing hundreds of CRM projects for customers across both New Zealand and Australia, we can honestly say we’ve learnt a thing or two about how and why budgets blow out. And more importantly, how to keep them on track.

But let’s start at the beginning. What usually goes wrong, and why?

 

3 harsh-but-true reasons why project budgets blow out.

  • Going off track. This is a biggie, and perhaps the most common reason for budget blow outs. Over the course of the implementation, users, stakeholders and even implementation partners lose sight of what’s included in the Statement of Work (SoW) and why. Users request or demand on-the-fly changes to agreed processes and/or the addition of new functionality – and the partner does them without question. The focus on the excitement of ‘what else can we do?’ overtakes the more strategic ‘why are we doing this?’. The result? Business objectives aren’t achieved, and deliverables, timelines and costs all suffer from slippage. And the day of reckoning isn’t a pleasant one for you, or your partner.

  • Reinventing the wheel. Business processes often start out as simple and clean. But over time (and in usually in response to working with disparate, legacy systems) they can become unnecessarily convoluted and complex. And users who have worked that way for years naturally become reluctant to change how they do things. So, when a new CRM project comes along, they want those processes replicated so they don’t have to modify how they’ve always worked. The outcome? Costly customisations which are put in place to mollify users but are expensive to develop and implement, often inefficient, and difficult to carry forward during upgrades.
     
  • Lack of control and accountability. A lack of clear direction, ownership or leadership can easily derail a project. And this is from both sides of the fence. But in the end, it’s the project partner (as they/we do implementations day in and day out), who is ultimately responsible for keeping the project on track or making it clear that out-of-scope changes will impact cost and delivery. A lack of commitment, reporting and visibility on both sides will guarantee budget slippage, lack of user acceptance and poor uptake.


So, how do you keep your project budget under control?
Or rather, how do WE keep it under control?

3 ways we keep your budget on the straight and narrow.

  • We help you stick to the plan. We take a proactive ‘North Star’ approach to keep you firmly on track. We maintain a tight, single minded focus on your business objectives, deliverables, timelines and costs. Above all, we make sure no-one - us included - loses sight of WHY we are doing the project. As part of this, we say ‘no’ in a very loud and firm voice to out of scope requests unless they add genuine value to the project, and you agree upfront (not in retrospect) to any impact on the budget.

  • We advocate best practice. Modern applications are designed to provide a best practice approach to business processes rather than replicating and perpetuating poor historical practices. While it may cause some initial grumbling in the ranks from long-time employees, users (and the business) usually quickly realise the efficiency, productivity and cost advantages in the short and long term.

  • We step up to provide experienced leadership and project management, disciplined planning and reporting. We use a methodology called ‘project canvas’ as an instrument for the project definition stage because of the way it allows us to clearly and simply structure the elements of the project. Ideally, our project manager and your project team develop the canvas together as part of a workshop to gain a common understanding of the project. We pay particular attention to ensuring that cross-departmental or intercultural team members have an exact understanding of the purpose and goals of the project.

    We also introduce a schedule of strong and regular internal governance – complete with weekly project reports. This requires buy-in from your business stakeholders and project team but realises a well-run, disciplined approach to the implementation. And it provides clarity and transparency – so there are no surprises. One of our customers said: “This is the first time in any of our technology projects with a range of partners that we’ve ever seen a project report.”

We think we do a good job,
but don’t just take our word for it.

We’re an award-winning Microsoft partner based on our ability to deliver projects which help customers improve how they do business. But our customer feedback is just as valuable to us:

  • “Although a large project, it ran to time and budget. There was a tight focus on the initial requirements to avoid scope creep. A strong relationship with the Fusion5 Microsoft team and clear, responsive communications kept the project and relationship firmly on track.”

    PHILIP DOAK, DIRECTOR AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, NZ FUNDS

  • “Fusion5 was easy to work with, very knowledgeable and valuable to us in terms of what we needed to do. We came in within budget, and within deadline, and their lead consultant was awesome. He absolutely knew the system backwards and had a brilliant understanding of our implementation requirements.”

    CRAIG COLLIS, DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY
  • “Everything Fusion5 did hit the nail on the head. A lot of people say that IT projects are never finished on time or within budget, but we achieved both. So, kudos to Fusion5. Their project manager was exceptional. We monitored progress from week to week. We kept on top of the timeline and cost, even allowing for change requests, so our expectations were set and met. It was a completely transparent process and very successful.”

    ANDY ADAMS, OPERATIONS MANAGER, GYMNASTICS NZ

Takeaways

From our perspective, we’re not big on elephants in the room, or inflated CRM project budgets. Both are uncomfortable and take some explaining.

With all the business benefits it has to offer, taking on a CRM project shouldn’t be a risk. By working with an experienced, mature and proven partner who has your business objectives and budget front of mind, you minimise the likelihood of blowing your budget before you even go live and start to reap the rewards.

Talk to us about how to stay on track, stick to best practice and stay in control of your budget.

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