15 Practical Challenges in CRM Implementation

15 Practical Challenges in CRM Implementation

Plan vs Reality small

Challenges in CRM Implementation can be broadly categorized into:

  1. People Challenges
  2. Technology Challenges
  3. Business Process Challenges
  4. Other Challenges

People Related Challenges in CRM Implementation

#1 Lack of senior management sponsorship

challenges in crm implementation - lack of mgmt support


  • CRM initiative solely driven by IT team without management buy-in.
  • Business users unclear or unconvinced on benefits of CRM.
  • Management not willing to commit to enforce CRM adoption.
  • Underestimating Change Management demanded by CRM.

Mitigation – Having an internal CRM champion from executive management.

#2 Expecting too much, too soon – Boiling the Ocean

challenges in crm implementation - too much too soon


  • Trying to accomplish all CRM objectives in the initial launch.
  • Adopting a ‘Water-Fall’ methodology instead of ‘Agile’ methodology for CRM project implementation.
  • Under estimating end-user transition by giving them full-featured, complex CRM system from get-go.

Mitigation – Adopting “Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast” strategy for CRM.


#3 Lack of scope clarity & budget overruns

challenges in crm implementation - scope clarity

  • Not committing adequate time & budget to requirement discovery.
  • Underestimating integration effort.
  • Not anticipating quantity & quality of data to be migrated to the new CRM.
  • Underestimating end-user resistance and training costs.
  • Underestimating infrastructure costs.Underestimating customization & implementation costs

Mitigation – Detailed requirement discovery workshops & adopting Agile project methodology that allows early identification of these issues.

#4 Underestimating Change Management

challenges in crm implementation - user adoption

  • Active resistance due to perceived threat from CRM.
  • Passive resistance to adoption due to inertia of changing old habits.
  • CRM interface slow or un-intuitive, making it cumbersome to use.
  • CRM viewed as ‘something that benefits management only’

Mitigation – Making end-users aware of what benefits they get out of CRM. Incentivizing (both positive & negative) to use CRM system. Ensuring an intuitive, easy to use, fast CRM system. Planning adequate training exercises.


#5 Changes in Key Stakeholders in Middle of Project

challenges in crm implementation - change of staff

  • Internal CRM champion(s) leaving the organization or having change of role or department.
  • Arrival of new IT Head or Business Head, who has a different vision for CRM.
  • Changes in key personnel from CRM vendor’s side that roll-back the progress made on vendor’s understanding of organizational objectives

Mitigation – Adequate documentation of CRM project objectives and intermediate progress sign-offs. Enlisting more than one internal CRM champion for redundancy.


#6 Lack of Expertise of the CRM vendor

challenges in crm implementation - vendor expertise

  • Vendor does not have enough experience with the CRM product being implemented.
  • Vendor does not have technology or process maturity of delivering CRM projects of similar scale.
  • Vendor not fully aware of the challenges in CRM implementation and is ill-prepared to anticipate and deal with them adequately.

Mitigation – Adequate due diligence at vendor selection stage to assess vendor maturity and expertise.


Technology Related Challenges in CRM Implementation

#7 Lack of CRM Product Fit

challenges in crm implementation - product fit


  • Product cannot support multiple deployment options, namely – On Cloud, On-Premise, Private Cloud, etc.
  • Product not flexible enough to allow for deeper customizations to enable fit with organization’s growing and changing needs.
  • Product not keeping pace with current CRM trends, such as – Global, Social, Mobile, etc.
  • Product not intuitive or user-friendly, thereby hindering user adoption.

Mitigation – Adequate due diligence at product selection stage to ensure fit not only for current business needs, but also for organization’s growing and changing needs.


#8 Integration Related Issues


challenges in crm implementation - integration issues

  • Existing legacy systems don’t support modern, web-services based integration that is required with CRM.
  • Lack of adequate support from other vendors of existing systems that need to be integrated with CRM.
  • Data integrity issues and uncertainty over ‘single source of truth’.

Mitigation – Adequate due diligence at requirements discovery stage, identify what data needs to be pulled from where and involve existing systems’ vendors in discussions early on. Develop prototype where needed.


#9 Infrastructure Related Issues

challenges in crm implementation - infrastructure issues


CRM On-Premise

  • Inadequately sized hardware leading to poor CRM performance for end users.
  • Underestimating the budget for setting up a true High-Availability, secure CRM setup, leading to cost overruns.

CRM On-Cloud

  • Underestimating cost of scaling up on cloud.
  • Lack of complete control over your own data and accessibility at all times.
  • Compliance/Regulatory Issues.

Mitigation – Plan carefully upfront. Best, choose a CRM that supports both models.


Process Related Challenges in CRM Implementation

#10 Data Migration Gotcha!


challenges in crm implementation - data issues

  • Data fragmented and silo-ed in various existing applications and difficult to integrate and consolidate in the CRM.
  • Data integrity issues in the migrated data.
  • Incorrect assumptions about the quality of the data to be migrated. Adequate time and budget not planned for the inevitable data cleaning/scrubbing exercise.

Mitigation – Know you Data! Having clarity about your data in terms of how much, how good and where is mandatory.


#11 Impact on Existing Business Processes


challenges in crm implementation - impact on business processes

  • Considering CRM as just a technology, instead of business transformation tool.
  • Inflexibility to change existing way of doing things, giving up entrenched (bad) business practices and adopting best practices that CRM enables.
  • Implementation that is overly disruptive of existing business practices.
  • Complexities in re-architecting customer facing processes through CRM.

Mitigation – Recognize the transformative power of CRM, be flexible to adopt best practices. Enlist a sponsor from executive management early on.


Other Challenges Unique to Large Organizations

#12 Difficulty in deploying a single CRM system spanning multiple geographic regions due to differences in business practices and the required localization.

#13 Artificial time pressures created due to end-of-contract situations with existing vendors. The urgency and impossible timelines can derail the change management efforts required for implementation & adoption of new CRM.


#14 Change in business priorities mid way through CRM implementation, e.g. reallocation of CRM budget, shifted focus on mergers & acquisitions, changes in regulatory environment, etc.


#15 Complexities in information security due to differing encryption standards, Govt access & control over data, industrial espionage in certain regions etc.


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