Project Management

First Things First

Tom Keenze

There is an old axiom in the world of information technology: The hardware is easy and the software is hard. I am no longer sure that it is a valid statement. Regrettably, the hardware has become more complex and is hard for most of us, since it is not something we deal with regularly (certain IT professionals excepted). However, the software is as hard as ever--even more so, as there are now many alternatives for virtually any software application you may consider. This is certainly true for Customer Relationship Management tools.

Yet when it comes to CRM, we often find it easier to focus on the technology than on critical and difficult issues such as culture, processes, organizational structure, reward systems and the many other areas that can spell the difference between success and failure. We must remember that technology is merely an enabler that supports CRM strategies, tactics and processes. It is the means to the end, not the beginning.

An important business practice that you may not have in place today is one that allows you to determine which customers are profitable. A bedrock principle of CRM is that you identify and grow profitable customers and gently encourage the unprofitable ones (who make purchase decisions based solely on price) to drift over to a competitor. It is a well-known fact, taught in all the very best business schools…

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You suffer for your soup.

- Kramer