CRM in Manufacturing Doesn't Need to Be Perfect

Why IT deployments are better off flawed


Another example that emphasizes the importance of rapid deployment is the tale of two competitors. The first company embraced a CRM technology and began to develop their application with a goal of providing a perfect system that automated the quote-to-order process and required minimal engineering resources from quote-to-build. While this was an admirable goal and one that they ultimately achieved, the time involved in putting all this functionality into the system severely delayed their time to value. Since this was considered a strategic advantage for them, they did not want to tip their hand and deploy a portion of the application until it was completely functional. Two years later, they are finally deploying the application and the value is significant. The expectations however, are even more significant.

Their competitor, who was late to embrace the technology and who knew they were behind the power curve to streamline their processes, chose to deploy only part of the application for part of their product line. They chose their most popular product that represented half their sales volume and developed a no-frills quote-to-order system within three months. Even though they started over a year after their competitor, they deployed it to their channels first and received value six months earlier. Anticipation was low and the functionality deployed exceeded their dealer's expectations. While the application was not nearly as feature-rich and lacked much of the functionality, they achieved a higher return on their investment earlier than their rival.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Delays in application deployment cost companies dearly and dramatically reduce the anticipated return on investment. If projects get delayed beyond their expected date of deployment, senior management loses confidence and the project loses momentum. This can be very dangerous in an organization where there are multiple priorities and where strategies may shift due to economic or competitive pressures.

Management should require project plans that achieve ROI in a phased approach for the following reasons:

  • To maintain momentum over the project life cycle.
  • Phased implementations with partial functionality have a higher chance for success.
  • Roadblocks or delays are discovered earlier in the project, relieving upper management worries.
  • By requiring short term deliverables, the steering committee can provide better direction and take the necessary action to maintain the project momentum.

About the Author: Jim Hessin is a Cincom Manufacturing Business Solutions senior advisor in the Quote-to-Order practice. Prior to Cincom, Hessin was a manufacturer's representative for eight years, specializing in electrical and electro-mechanical motion control solutions for special machinery OEMs and end-users. For more information, you can contact him at jhessin@cincom.com.

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