Angry Young Man of CRM Implementations

Let me start by explaining the meaning of expression “Angry Young Man”.

The expression comes from Bollywood (India’s Hollywood). One of the legendary Indian Bollywood Superstar acted in a film made in early 1970’s. The film was about ills prevailing in the society and it’s about how a young cop (played by this superstar) fights those ills single handily against all odds. The young cop was very angry in his fight. This film was a major blockbuster and that’s how the expression “Angry Young Man” became very popular.

Now let me tell you why I feel like the angry young man when I go on CRM implementations:

Transformation Vs System Change: Most enterprise level CRM implementations start as transformational exercises.
What ends up happening on the ground is exactly opposite to transformation. Very soon, the exercise turns into a mere system change exercise which is far from transformation. What is even more amazing is that how most of the stakeholders and implementation partners become a party to this. In the heat and hurry of implementation, it becomes almost impossible to ask introspective questions regarding transformation Vs system change?, Where are we going?, What are we doing and Why are we doing? Makes me feel like an angry young man.

Definition of a Customer: It is almost imperative to start with knowing your customer. In transformational implementations the definition of the customer should be revisited and recreated if required. It makes me very angry to see how implementation teams take the customer definition for granted and feels that it is an exercise in vain. Anyone who questions about this is frowned upon and considered a pariah and soon shown the exit door. What is all the more surprising is that your own team does not want you to ask these questions because these are understood to be awkward and irritable and everyone is scared of losing the gig.

Client appeasement culture: I believe that a client chooses a consulting or an implementation partner because there are gaps which need to be filled. What is frustrating and makes me angry is how most of these engagements become a one-way, yes sir type of deals with no value add. I think the biggest service to the client is to be honest and straightforward about the assessment of system and processes. What also makes me angry is that how teams become superficially convinced about avoiding to get in the bad books of the client and in the process loose sight of what is required. I always feel that we as consultants are hired by clients because there are gaps and we have value to offer to fill the gaps and we should do full justice to the same.

Really Agile?: I know it is all about Agile. Everyone on the team want to believe that they are agile and everything they are doing is Agile. What makes me angry is that when we start sprinting (sprints) without having sufficient and efficient backlog. The backlog is also simultaneously defined along with development.

What is even more frustrating is that when the foundational elements are also treated as agile and want to be handled in the same way. Teams become so obsessed with sprints that the very first day of the implementation starts with a sprint without knowing what needs to be done. Seems like no one wants to understand that there are certain things that cannot be done in a sprint, that they should be taking a step back, get in a zero hour mode and define some items and prepare a backlog. People often misunderstand Sprint zero as Waterfall which adds to the frustration.

The above ills make an implementation frustrating and less pleasant. I can say with great degree of confidence that this is state of most implementations today. I can also say that most established consulting practices are ignoring to address these issues. They are over obsessed with sales and getting people with system skills. The above ills can be addressing by inculcating the skill to ask probing questions amongst the team and developing thought leaders from an early level.

There are other multiple ways to address the above issues. I will write about them in a future blog.

On a lighter note the Bollywood superstar I am referring to is the legendary Amitabh Bachchan and the film is Zanjeer. I am also not young any more but the frustration and emotions are still raw and young.



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