Ask any seasoned CRM implementation consultant what it takes to launch a successful program and you will get no less than 100 answers. Factors such as your business model, culture, and set of circumstances will require a somewhat different mix of success-enabling factors, and inattention to these elements could escalate risk of some level of failure.


One way to identify requirements for a successful CRM implementation is to ask yourself why you are moving into your new enterprise CRM business application. Most often, the need to assure that the business contains and delivers high-quality, actionable information is at the heart of the CRM mission and will surface among the critical determinants of success.


Enter-- data quality management, a practice that focuses on the definition of data quality, its measurement, practices that assure it, and its impact on the business. Data quality is both a cause and effect of an effective, reliable CRM solution, and therefore a driver of utilization. If a mature CRM program delivers unreliable data, the system will be less utilized; if it is more utilized, the data quality inevitably improves.


Below are the principles of data quality management to consider as you implement your CRM program:

Bad data is worse than no data

The design of CRM systems, being notoriously subject to the forward-thinking ideas of the sellers and marketers, often engenders a lot of data points that can become difficult to populate and track over time. Before you add more entities and fields for other users and systems to populate, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do these fields have value? 
  • Will others rely on them? 
  • Will this data be maintained?

If it’s a toss-up, just give it up and focus on more fundamental data sets. You will have enough on your hands just to manage the staples.

Balancing the data provider vs. consumer disequilibrium

Life is unfair, and so can CRM be, at times. Unfortunately, CRM users are not equally required to manage data inputs. Some users are relied upon to do more data entry and others are the beneficiaries of that information. This can disrupt the “what’s in it for me” success factor. Pay attention to who is using the tool and how much is expected of each role to provide good data vs. benefit from it, and set realistic expectations.

Executive data exposure comes last

I have seen many CRM rookies make the major mistake of creating dashboards and reports that are exposed to Director and VP level execs, only to then work backwards from there into the application. While you can and should begin with the end in mind, exposing reports and data to decision-makers too early in the implementation cycle will create a huge risk that they will see the bad information and blame the system. It is rare to find an executive who is willing to have the nascent CRM application expose bad native data and cheerfully begin a data cleanup program. A better way to approach it is to educate the entire constituency that you will be working closely with each of them on a program to improve data quality, and that at some future point, reports and dashboards will be exposed. Gain their cooperation and help make them look good.

Bad competitive legacy systems diminish good enterprise systems

CRM is never intended to be personal in nature, or pocketed into small groups. Its essential mission is to be singular, unifying, and enterprise-level. Understanding that is key to taking on the CRM challenge. When you move to install an enterprise class CRM system like Dynamics, it is important to have a specific plan to remove and retire all competing legacy systems. I’ve implemented CRM globally, and found even a year after deployment some remote corners of the business that were trained and handed over data for migration but that were still using legacy spreadsheets to update information. We noticed their CRM data was really deteriorated and unused; but that good old spreadsheet…wow! It was their personal canonical of truth. Unfortunately, their continued use of the old processes and tools had helped CRM to degenerate. A better approach is to take care of their use cases so there are no good reasons not to jump into the enterprise tool. Then, have them surrender their favorite spreadsheets in a formal “coming of age” ceremony… goodbye, faithful spreadsheet!


…Next, stay tuned as we examine the kinds of data you will be managing and how to build a DWM plan to make CRM a success.