Key takeaways

  • Having a successful CRM project is not about the software you choose. It’s about avoiding the pitfalls that come from a poorly executed strategy.
  • Establishing a Centre of Excellence to oversee decision making is the first step to taking control of the CRM rollout across the firm.
  • Deciding whether to run a single- or multi-org strategy depends on the unique needs of your business, but the golden rule is the fewer the better.

There’s a very large graveyard of failed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) projects.

There’s an even bigger wasteland of CRM initiatives that have spiralled out of control, become multimillion dollar investments that ultimately negatively impacted large numbers of customer facing employees, and failed to deliver any real results to boot.

The costs of poor CRM adoption are two-fold: underutilised investments and unmet business objectives. And they can seriously undermine a business’ growth strategy.

Why it’s not
about the software

To understand the risks and pitfalls that must be navigated in order to successfully implement a CRM, research firm Forrester recently conducted a survey in partnership with CustomerThink.1 From the survey of 414 participants, who had been involved in implementing a CRM either in a sales, marketing, customer service or technology management role, came an unsurprising result: successful CRM projects were not about choosing the right software.

The survey found that 38% of respondents attributed their problems to people issues, including slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organisational culture with new ways of working. A third of respondents faced problems from poor or insufficient definition of business requirements, inadequate business process designs, and the need to customise solutions to fit the unique needs of their organisation. A third of respondents had challenges related to CRM strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, a lack of organisational readiness, and insufficient solution governance practices.

The good news is that these problems can be mitigated, and adopting the following best practice approaches when choosing your CRM platform will help ensure a smooth transition for the whole business.

Establishing a
Centre of Excellence

The first step to taking control of your CRM deployment is establishing the right governance. This means creating a team that is dedicated to overseeing decisions, streamlining processes and improving the experience.

The team should include application-development professionals, customer strategy leaders and software representatives, whose responsibilities include governing the CRM environment and being the stewards of the CRM strategy. That covers deployment, priority lists, release schedule, reviewing technology projects inline with both the strategy and the vendors roadmap, as well as change management policies.

Through this, they mitigate risks by setting up an enterprise-wide roadmap of the business and technical capabilities of your CRM through which the broader firm can be trained up on. It also establishes a strong link between your business and the platform.

Optimising your

It’s critical to choose the architecture that best suits your business requirements. Using Salesforce as the example, there are generally two approaches to CRM strategy: single or multi-org (an ‘org’ is an individual instance of Salesforce). In the single-org approach, the mantra is ‘customer centricity’ and the business runs off a single instance of Salesforce; while multi-org is use when either a tactical approach is taken to solve business problems quickly (hence separately) or where multiple non-related problems are solved. For example, sales and HR or teams that don’t deal with the same set of customer data or have very different business processes.

Certainly there are both pros and cons to adopting both single- and multi-org approaches. Single-org strategies establish a unified business process that enables upselling and cross selling, as well as enabling a centralised administration and maintenance. This approach is also customer centric as it delivers a ‘single customer view’, enhanced by the analytics. It also delivers cost reductions in terms of overheads and reducing duplication of data.

Multi-org strategies provide speed to market, with less interdepartmental communication needed, as well as a reduction in chain reactions – that is, the risk of impacting on another group when one department makes a change.  This approach also increases the control and security, particularly in instances where businesses are spread across different locations or have different working styles. A multi-org structure can however be characterised by a lack of communication and direction from across the business, and more often than not undermines the inherent value in the platform itself.

Whatever the decision, having a strategy is better than no strategy at all; in many cases a single- or multi-org structure occurs organically without any control or thought. Take for example the wasted opportunity and reworking that must occur when two sales teams independently decide that they need a CRM without consulting the other, and six months later find out they have both installed a program and are now using it differently.

Choosing the right org architecture.

As few as possible,
as many as necessary

Consolidation should be undertaken where possible. The mantra preached by Salesforce at its 2016 Dreamforce conference – “as few as possible, as many as necessary” – should be front of mind for decision makers. It’s not an insurmountable task: take tech behemoth Dell, which between 2013 and 2016 consolidated its 28 orgs down to just three.

Some questions worth considering when contemplating consolidating to a single-org structure:

  • Are we dealing with the same customers, products or assets?
  • Are the processes the same or do we need to standardise?
  • Is there a need to centralise application administration, can we drive a share benefit?
  • Does the c-suite want an all-inclusive report?
  • Is there a need for a 360 degree view of the customer?
  • Are upsell/cross-sell opportunities being missed?

By addressing these questions, consolidating, and adhering to best practice, you will enhance your ability to make the most of your platform, and reap the benefits of its competitive advantage it delivers your business. Most of all, you’ll help ensure your strategy doesn’t end up in the CRM graveyard.


PwC is a leading Salesforce partner both in Australia and abroad and is recognised as one of the biggest Salesforce systems integrators globally. We provide services across the entire value chain, leveraging the breadth of PwC including: large scale Salesforce implementations, risk and quality assurance, transformational confidence, business case development, architecture and code reviews and remediation for those projects that have gone awry.



Michael Diamond

Michael Diamond is a technology strategy director in PwC’s Salesforce practice.

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