In the life sciences industry, there are no clear best practices or standard frameworks on how to establish a measurement plan for an end-to-end CRM implementation. A CRM roadmap strategy is challenging and the specificities of pharmaceuticals, with R&D being such an important piece of the business model, make it even more difficult.
But it’s necessary — and arguably mandatory — to have a measurement program that ensures your company goals and projects actually transform from mere plans to reality. CRM program achievements must be tracked through metrics that enable all stakeholders to make fact-supported decisions. A measurement plan translates business goals into well-defined, unambiguous metrics, which transparently reveal successes and failures to stakeholders, thus enabling effective project decision-making.
To help you get there, I will describe a high-level approach on how to build an agile measurement plan for a CRM implementation. I will also share some insights and opinions on how to improve the effectiveness of your CRM roadmap. The first step is to develop a Standard CRM Roadmap. As part of that, at the onset, we need to understand the different phases in a CRM implementation project. We also need to grasp the interaction between each phase. Then, we can develop a suitable metrics plan. In the pharmaceutical industry, a CRM Implementation Roadmap usually has three distinct phases of execution, with each containing different objectives, milestones, outcomes, and strategies. In addition, in all phases of the CRM Roadmap, the metrics to evaluate and measure key milestones are different. In each phase, they may also affect a myriad of stakeholders. The phases are as follows:
- Phase I: Adoption (Pre Go-Live)
- Phase II: Engage (Go-Live)
- Phase III: Maturity (Post Go-Live)
In the Adoption Phase, the end-user is only involved in requirements gathering, testing (e.g., UAT), and training. They tend to play a more passive role. On the project team, the leading roles are played by IT and business management/analysts. Issues during this phase will likely stem from not involving real end-users and/or poor communications across countries, departments, and roles. In addition, while creating the measurement plan and framework, it’s strongly suggested to visualize the CRM Lifecycle from the end-user perspective. This will help you validate that the metrics are indeed aligned with their needs.
Once the system is live, the Engage Phase begins with training, hypercare, and the initial changes in day-to-day activities. Once the CRM is stable and becomes fully integrated with daily business operations, the Maturity Phase starts. In this phase, innovation, improvements, enhancements, and future design considerations occur.
A simple framework should be leveraged to gain a better understanding of the metric dimensions involved in a CRM implementation, as well as to enable monitoring of metric flows across CRM Roadmap phases. The plan I propose here is based on five distinctive metric dimensions, which should allow better tracking. These dimensions, as seen in the graphic below, will capture various aspects of a project:
- Data: In all IT projects, data is the most meaningful and critical connection point. Data drives a CRM Roadmap in the right direction and supports the capabilities and features that allow a CRM program to be successful. Data also drives end-user behavior and connectivity. Furthermore, data metrics measure system performance. That includes data connection points, integrations, management, governance, migration, privacy, and consumption, as well as reporting.
- Capabilities: This dimension is critical. It must include processes (business, compliance, GxP, IT). But it should always reflect, and be mindful of, unique company cultures (country-by-country basis, as well as aggregated) and operations. It could also include new processes that your company may desire. In this metrics group, the local and central vision may be distinct. There might be central KPIs and local KPIs, which may or may not cohere with the global strategy. Regardless, the overall strategy should be the ultimate target of the KPI(s), as well as developing and executing new capabilities (organizational and individual). This will provide a broad view on how the company is performing relevant to desired, measurable results. One of the greatest challenges with these metrics, however, is evaluating local versus central constraints, harmonized versus localized, and expectations versus reality. Corporate culture and executive sponsorship usually drive these factors and trade-off potential.
- Tool: This dimension involves system functionalities, configurations, and specific technical designs, which impact end-users. However, usually, CRM implementation failures are due to misaligned business needs and technology — not just a pure technical problem. Business/tech misalignment is very challenging to resolve compared to technical issues. It can adversely affect adoption and must be rectified in order to expeditiously move forward with an effective CRM implementation.
- Timeline: These metrics involve tracking project milestones — achievements and setbacks. Timeline achievement and target completion should be visible. It is integral to developing a specific CRM measurement plan.
- Connection: These metrics aim to measure the traceability between the initial needs expressed by users and the final requirements that were implemented in various releases. Initially, this dimension appears to be qualitative. But it is, in fact, the most critical metric dimension where factors like requirements, expectations, user journey, and even perceptions are collected and assessed. This dimension, however, should be defined and monitored within a completely controlled environment. Ultimately, from the user perspective, you want to trace evolution from the vision requested to the actual achievement. With this metric, you should also decide the importance of the following questions within your CRM implementation:
- How important is feedback from one user?
- How important is system perception from a single country?
- How can you effectively and efficiently manage connection points among stakeholders?
In this dimension, it is also important to measure internal evaluations from the program team, as well as leadership engagement. Moreover, we must determine how we can measure CRM simplicity, usability, awareness, strategy, and even engagement levels. We can do this by measuring connection points. An ideal measurement plan of a CRM implementation should encompass these dimensions, as well as CRM engagement phases. Blending those two perspectives will ensure all aspects of an implementation are monitored. In addition, user clustering is another technique that can be used to facilitate the setup of the measurement framework.
The following illustration and text explains the linkages between CRM Lifecycle and the preceding measurement dimensions:
In Phase II, the most important characteristic is system agility toward end-user behaviors. Typically, they will need to search and assess customer data, as well as report daily activities. Their ability to execute is fundamental to system stability. The Measurement Plan must integrate this CRM Lifecycle. Phase III has a future orientation, including a deep focus on future enhancements of the system to ensure users extract the best value from the CRM. The Measurement Plan should replicate this future orientation as well. In this phase, the most critical and relevant metric dimensions are Capabilities and Connections.
Ultimately, your plan is always evolving with the different phases of the CRM implementation. Naturally, the more complex the program, the more complex the measurement plan should be. What I have described here can assist simple, straightforward projects, as well as complex programs. An effective measurement plan — created in conjunction with all CRM stakeholders — will help your organization know whether you’ve achieved actual success. And remember for long-term projects, especially projects that involve multiple countries and cultures, you must develop metrics that are accepted company-wide.