Do-It-Yourself CRM vs. Using a Professional Partner

A real-world experience that closely parallels the potential methods of implementing a CRM system.

When I built my first house, the neighborhood covenant required that the front yard be sod and they didn’t care what you did for grass in your back yard.  This made me angry because even though I got nearly instant and perfect grass with the sod, it was more money out of pocket up front after I just paid out a bunch of money to build the new house.  The timing could not have been worse.  I reluctantly went ahead and purchased the sod and installed it in the front yard and at the same time went to work preparing my back yard for seeding which was a barren dirt moonscape.  Within a few days, the front yard looked spectacular, a green and lush lawn.  It was returning all of the beauty and value I paid for and made me proud of my new house.  It was grown in perfectly prepared soil and skillfully installed by professionals that had years of experience and knew how to get it right the first time.  All I had to do was water it and mow it regularly to keep it healthy.

In the back yard I had to level all of the dirt by hand, spread out the seed, rake it in and water the heck out of it for weeks. What I got from the first crop was mostly weeds and bare spots that looked nothing like a lawn should.  It was a disaster and the more I watered it the more weeds I got.  I finally decided that there was no way the soil could properly support grass and overtake the weeds so I had to Roundup the whole yard, rake up and haul away all the dead weeds and have black dirt hauled in and spread evenly.  Now I needed to seed and water all over again.  This time the grass grew evenly but was very thin and sparse.  A few weeks later I over-seeded which required more rental equipment to drill the seeds into the soil.  Now that the summer was in full swing, the weeds came back with a vengeance so I spent more money to kill the weeds which also killed some of the new grass and left it looking sick and yellow.  By the end of the summer I was tired of spending time and money on the back yard trying to make it look even remotely like the front yard and it never happened.  For years I lived with a crappy, weedy, dusty back yard that in the end cost me more money and was way more work to keep up than my perfect sod lawn in the front yard.

We see this same thing happen all of the time in the CRM world.  A company will expend all kinds of resources on making the decision to purchase the right software for their needs and then they attempt to self-implement the system and try to get by with minimal help from qualified, experienced professionals believing they will save money.  Most of the time, the result is the CRM system never delivering on its full potential and in the worst case never being implemented at all which is sad.  Best case is that it takes far longer then it could have and many mistakes and do over’s occur before the system is performing at its best.  User confidence quickly erodes, management is not getting the tools and business insight they were counting on and the owner is not seeing the positive impact on his business that justified the original expense.  Who gets blamed? The software gets blamed.  The fact is, the software is rarely the root cause of a CRM mis-fire or failure but it is the company’s lack of insight and proper assessment of the magnitude of the personal investment and internal resources and skills required to implement the system properly and in a timely fashion.   


The only way a self implemented CRM system can deliver its full value is if your company has experienced business consultants, technical engineers, software developers, data analysts, project managers and a trainer all with years of CRM implementation experience and nothing else to do for a few months. 


Scott Weber

Scott Weber is CRM Practice Manager and Senior Consultant for Customer FX Corporation.

1 Comment

  1. I really do believe it is possible to succeed with a DIY approach.  But…you really need to go into it with your eyes open and be realistic when assessing whether or not it is a good idea for your company.  You bring up important considerations.  We’ve seen poor results far more often than not, but I still think it’s possible.


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