Relationship be broken down into two categories, these

Relationship
Management is about the partnership with stakeholders and with a project as
important as the roll out of a new CRM system, a company needs to consider its
stakeholders and what it takes to ensure that it is implemented with as little
risk as possible to the goal of creating a competitive edge. Stakeholders are
defined as any individual or group who is affected by the achievement of the organization’s
objective (Freeman, 1984, p.46). Expounding on his definition, Freeman also
states as cited in (Zech, 2013)
that stakeholders include, employees, customers, suppliers, stockholders,
banks, environmentalist, government and other groups who can help or hurt the
corporations (Freeman R.E., 1984, p.vi).

Stakeholders
can be broken down into two categories, these are internal and external.
Internal stakeholders are defined as individuals or organizations that are
affected by the consequences and outcomes of decisions. For the nature of this
assignment the key internal stakeholders are employees in which the IT
department plays a pivotal role as an internal stakeholder and are the individuals
who take the needs of the organization to information needed for the suppliers to
provide an adequate system.

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Employees
or end users hold a certain level of power over any software implementation within
an organization as Papadopoulos et al, 2012 cited Lombardo (2003) “either
initially or eventually, users should be involved in the CRM implementation
project team.” This is an important group as they can determine the success or
failure of the new CRM software that will be implemented. In 2012, when a
billing software was introduced, there was a lot of stigma shown by employees
who were not included in the initial design and as such refused to use the
software optimally, to mitigate this it took training of the end users to
lessen the backlash that could be caused.

External
stakeholders are individuals, groups and entities from outside the organization
that are affected by the consequences and outcomes of an organizations
objectives. Examples of externals stakeholders include customers, suppliers and
the government. Two vital stakeholders would be customers and suppliers. Customers
are a vital part of any service oriented company, and the purchase of a
software should on the basis of the company construct an ease in transactions
and delivery of service is reasons why customers stay loyal to an organization.

The
suppliers are the external stakeholders and are the providers of the resources
needed to create the new CRM software. Suppliers add a value to the company by
providing a tool that should add efficiency and an increase in competitor
advantage to the organization and should meet the organization’s needs.

According
to Johnson 2013, stakeholder mapping identifies a stakeholder interest and
power and helps in understanding political priorities with focus on power
differing stakeholders have to influence strategy and the interest each stakeholder
has in particular issues. A tool that can be used to show how stakeholders
affect decisions can be illustrated by the power/ interest matrix, a tool
adapted from (Mendelow, 1981) “The matrix classifies stakeholders in relation
to the power they hold and the extent to which they are likely to show interest
in supporting or opposing a particular strategy” (Johnson 2013). With the
implementation of a new CRM software, the power/ interest matrix shows how
employees, suppliers and the customers can affect the implementation.
Management and IT departments are key players and want to be kept informed. Customers
have minimal effort but whose needs must be satisfied, suppliers are key
players in CRM implementation and must meet the needs of the organization.

Customers
have for years asked about e-billing and from their engagement the CRM software
gives them the ease of having their telecommunications billed emailed to those
who desire as opposed to mailman delivery.

            The suppliers that have offered
system software to enhance the efficiency of day to day functions have had a
positive and negative in the organization. Service provisioning has been
automated and the need for manual activation orders can now be used.

From
my time at APUA I’ve seen stakeholder engagement from every angle. Employees
have countless concerns and opinions when it comes to the implementation of a
new CRM software. Many of the employees are withdrawn and though they appear to
be interested in what is being shown to them with regards to the functionality
of a new system, their day to day functions show that they are not the least
bit interested in the changes that come with a new CRM system and go about
using the software the way they think it should be done. At the same time these
employees often enter incorrect information and at times it takes customers
longer than it should for them to have their services activated which in turn
leads to disgruntled or unsatisfied customers. On the other hand, there are those
employees that are grateful for an upgraded system and the ease it brings to
their day to day tasks.

            Conflict amongst stakeholders arises
when there is conflict involving the project team, as well as groups that are
outside of the project, can be detrimental to project performance Yu-Chin Liu
et al., (2011 cited by Prieto-Remóna, et al.,
2015, p.156). It can be said that if we can resolve conflicts between
stakeholders throughout the project, we can also increase our chances of completing
the project successfully Robey, Smith, & Vijayasarathy (1993 cited by Semeniuk, 2010). To be put more loosely
conflict is any situation good or bad that happens between individuals. With
relevance to this assignment, conflict in this case is derived from the
implementation of a new CRM system. Conflict of interest may arise among
stakeholders include:

o  
Poor or lack communication between
employees and top management or the project team on the change in software.
This can cause resistance to change and not all employees will be willing to
work with a software they know nothing about or were not made aware of during
the design or set up process of this new system. Employees now feel a lack of
motivation as they do not feel that they are considered when there are
primarily the main users of any implemented software and this affects them
directly.

o  
Second example of conflict would be where
the new CRM tool does not meet the needs of the customer. Where the new
solution was guaranteed to offer customers access to view their bills through a
self-web care feature for services offered from the company as well as being
able to view their transaction history and send in queries from the comfort of
their home. This can in turn result in a lack of trust from customers who now
feel that the company is unable to deliver on promises made for more
effectiveness and ease of business.

o  
Third example is the lack of trust in
supplier deliverability. Where the supplier promised the project team that the
migration and launch of the new CRM software along with all its functionalities
would be made available within 6-8 months but is unable past to deliver a
completed product within the time as promised. This inability to do so could
cause an inflation in the cost to produce the end product and increasing the
cost/budget the company that the company was not prepared for. Conflict arises
where the money the company had budgeted for the project is now being increased
as it takes the suppliers more time to deliver on the system.  

It
is said that “conflict is inevitable in any situation involving more than one
person, a consequence of interactions and differences in goals, viewpoints and
needs, can be good or bad and a result of differences in objectives, values,
and perceptions” (Pinto, 2009). One cannot argue with this statement as conflict
within an organization are counteractive to the objectives originally sought
out by the organization and are as means to resolve such conflict resolution
measures must be taken.

In
an attempt at conflict resolution and minimization a six step process can be
used. These steps are:

1.     Define
the problem—understand what the problem is

2.      Gather data—collect data to support your
problem definition

3.      Analyze the data—analyze data to produce
valuable information

4.     Choose
the best solution—amongst different options

5.      Implement the solution—the chosen solution
must be implemented

6.     Continue
to refine the solution

 

            Once the management and project team
understand that there is conflict and that this causes an impact on the
completion of a project with guidance from the six steps process start finding
ways to reduce the conflicts brought about. A useful that can be used when the
project team is analyzing the conflict brought about is a compromising
strategy. A compromising strategy tries to resolve the conflict with a solution
that will moderately satisfy everyone (Giotis & Pinto, 2009). This approach is
useful when the cost of conflict is higher than the cost of losing ground, when
strong opponents are at a standstill and a deadline is approaching. (Giotis & Pinto, 2009). With respect to the
employees this method of resolution is quite useful as a resistance to the
implementation of the new CRM system would come about and it’s on the onus of
the project team and management to have this resolved as quickly as possible.
Through the organization and customer conflict, incentive measures can be taken
to keep the customer happy with the organization till the new features are able
to be introduced to them. The supplier and organization conflict is a bit more
tedious as at times suppliers dictate and try to convince individuals of the
need for extra time to complete a project. The company has to decide on a best
solution among the different scenarios that can take place with the deadline of
the project approaching. That is why it is very important to use train and
experienced consultants who understand the implementation requirements and can
deliver a project on time and within the company’s budget (Oracle, 2006).

A
conflict management tool that can be included in the steps at conflict
resolution that may meet the needs of all individuals impacted is a win-win
resolution which is chosen to help find a solution to the issues that have
arisen. In a win-win conflict resolution, the project team attempts to find a
way of getting the employees to agree on the use of the CRM system. Finding
ways of engaging the stakeholder together with a compromise to find a solution
that works for the employee and the organization. Although this is a good
measure to take when dealing with conflict there are pitfalls that can arise
from a compromise. One such pitfall that can occur is the inability to
accomplish all the suggestions given through dialogue with the varying
stakeholders affected by the CRM implementation. The project team can say yes
to the recommendations given but in actuality not fulfill all that is required,
the mission is to complete as much as possible to not incur more conflict with
employees.

On
the other hand, alongside the win-win approach at conflict resolution a
collaborative approach method could be implemented. Collaboration strategy is
the joining of ideas in order to achieve the best solutions of a conflict (Madalina, 2015). Solutions are done
through a creative resolution and are not designed by one individual Madalina
also states. Through this method the project team and the various stakeholders
can work out approaches that bring about the best solution to the conflicts
caused. The involvement of employees or customers gives them a sense of
importance and they in turn want to work out the best solution needed that
benefits them in the long run. The project team/ management involvement with
suppliers brings about an agreement to the best fit way of resolving the deliverability
issue and in so doing severely impacting the organizations budget. 

            Risk can be defined as the
combination of the probability of an event and its consequences. Based on the
nature of this project the type of risk that can be identified it project risk.
Project risk are those risks that might result in an impact on the quality,
timeliness, content or cost of the delivered solution (Henshaw, 2004).  When end users (employees) are not involved
in the implementation or design of a new CRM software, this causes resistance, and
the present design may not meet the needs of the end users. This in the terms
of project risk is the impact felt on the quality of the project, this in turn now
poses a risk to the organization. Agreeably so, (Keramati, et al., 2013) posits
in their paper that “not involving the final users in designing the CRM
solution will result in dissatisfaction with the functionalities of the system,
and users are prone not to use the final system”. In an attempt to manage the
risk associated with APUA’s go live of this new CRM software desires a
mitigation strategy that can aid in addressing the risk.

(Buttle, 2009) defines resource as
the human, financial, legal, physical, managerial, intellectual and other
strengths and weaknesses of the organization. The human resource of employees
is of critical importance to the organization as they are directly affected by
the changes brought about by this new CRM tool that can now affect their day to
day tasks. Management or the project team must have as a mitigation to this
issue set up training of all end users. Training of all end users on the functionalities
of the new CRM system would in turn allow for feedback from end users on how to
better design the system to meet their needs and possibly by extension the
customer. The risk could have been thwarted if during the design phase input
was gathered from all areas so that there would be no need to adjust an already
designed system that is now being “forced” on to employees. (Papadopoulos, et al., 2012) suggests that user
training and education has a positive effect on the implementation of CRM
projects” and as such should result in end users being supportive of the
software being implemented. This is also cemented in (Oracle, 2006) paper on
critical success factors that states that an organization should invest in
training to empower end users. It is said that “training should not come as an
afterthought….training should not merely focus on demonstrating how to use
software’s features and functionality, instead training should teach employees
how to effectively execute the business processes enabled by the CRM system”

With
the roll out of the project taking longer than forecasted, this, as stated
previously can cause an increase in the budget costs associated with it. This
can affect the total cost of ownership. (Sheryl, 2001) has gathered an extensive document that
centers its findings on the fact that there are many variables that take place
when a business strategy is used that may not factor in all the costs
associated with CRM implementation and could affect the company’s ability to
offer customers quality of service and affects the technological resource of
the company.

CRM
systems provide an analytical collaborative and operational resource to the
company.

Park
and Kim (2003) have stated how important a well-organized tool can be used
within an organization. This can be completed in three phases. These are
customer acquisition, retention and expansion. Acquisition involves data
collection from employees which when added to the system now forms a customer
database. With retention the company can used the information gathered to build
its relationship with the customer by offering quality products and services
and expansion the customer increases the company’s customer base by way of word
of mouth.

If
the CRM system cannot be delivered in a timely manner or does not meet the
needs of APUA, any effort to increase their market and customer share is
heavily affected and time lost for profitability.

            One can also argue that this time
lag has an adverse effect on the company’s total cost of ownership; a
systematic quantification of all costs generated over the lifetime of the
project, as now it’ll take a longer time for the company to take ownership of
the system being created.

            A deficiency in the quick turnaround
and the launch of a new CRM system, the ability to offer better services to
customers now becomes a risk to APUA. With the hope of being able to compete
with private entities offering a better quality in data and customer service,
continually delaying on the promise made to customers on a guarantee for better
service, and the inability to deliver as time passes can cause a fall in trust
and the customer-organization relationship. Where the services offered include
the ability for online bill payments and customer queries, shorter sign up
times, quicker activation of service, fault reporting and repairs, the
inability to deliver on this promise within a reasonable timeframe could result
in a customer churn. This once again is a consideration within project risk.

            According to APM (2016) stakeholder
engagement is the practice of interacting with, an influencing project
stakeholders to its overall benefit of the project and its advocates. The foundation
of engagement is centered on effective communication with stakeholders who are
directly or indirectly affected by a new business process; in this case the
implementation of a new CRM system. A recent study done by (Bourne, 2015) states that ‘effective communication
and stakeholder engagement requires recognition that the subject of all the
processes and lists are people – they cannot be categorized in the same way as
inanimate objects. People make projects possible: they are done by people for
the benefit of other people. Therefore effective relationships built and
maintained through effective communication are essential for project success”.
Communication is important within and throughout any project being undertaken
and is vitally important as a new CRM system could have an effect on employee’s
day to day operations. There is a need to engage these stakeholders at every
step of its creation and implementation; and it’s the onus of the organizations
leaders to ensure that stakeholders are kept informed.

 Leadership is defined as setting goals and
direction for strategy and plans effectiveness depends on their management
style.  Leadership is very important and
is synonymous with communication, a good manager knows how to communicate
effectively with staff. In so doing top management could encourage motivation
of staff and indirectly, once again mitigate risk and possible conflict.

APM
(2016) has documented what can be argued as important principles when it comes
to communication and are very applicable to APUA’s CRM implementation. These
are but not limited to:

o  
Gain stakeholder approval and support

o  
Minimize their opposition and satisfy
their needs as far as possible

o  
Anticipate what human risks and
opportunities may arise and

o  
Enable plans to be laid and managed.

There
a three communication and leadership strategies that can be undertaken that is
based around stakeholder engagement. These are stakeholder information
strategy, stakeholder response strategy and stakeholder involvement strategy.
For the basis of this assignment the two strategies most applicable would be
stakeholder information strategy and stakeholder involvement strategy.

In
stakeholder involvement strategy, communication is one way and is primarily
viewed as “telling, not listening” (Grunig & Hunt 1984: 23) and top
management is more or less concerned about informing its stakeholders. This
communication strategy is mirrored in the transactional leadership strategy
which is also a one way means of communication and lends to the notion that top
management dictates what information stakeholders are made aware of company’s
projects (APM, 2016). With this strategy it could lead to an issue where
stakeholders are resistant to change and a lack of stakeholder interaction with
the use of the new CRM system being implemented. While this strategy could be
useful it is not the best fit at this time with regards to the objectives the
company is working towards for a competitive edge. 

Stakeholder
involvement strategy is a two way “symmetric” means of communication and allows
for stakeholders to be involved in the decisions and actions of the
organization. It invites a proactive dialogue with stakeholders and may involve
persuasion with an objective to encourage change (Morsing M, 2006). Where a new CRM
system is being implemented it is quite important to the organization through
this means of communication to gather input from stakeholders about the use of
the system and how it can benefit each segment of the organization from data
collection to using the information gathered for marketing. If done correctly
the project team can gather imperative information form the end users that will
aid in creating a CRM system that meets the needs of everyone including the
customers. This form of communication is called a transformational leadership strategy.
In this strategy, leaders are involved in a two way means of communication involving
face to face communication as well as joint decision making (Herremans, et al., 2015) expounding on this
further, citing (Bowen et al. 2010) which states that a transformational
strategy leads to involvement also when communication lines are two way, the
company develops capabilities to transform and evolve (Herremans, et al., 2015). Face to face
communication is quite useful when finding out the concerns from employees
about the use of the CRM system and can even result in finding new ways at implementing
different segments of the system. Conducting focus groups with customers can
enable the organization to make note of ways in which they can increase on the
efficiency to which APUA services they offer and how they can add features to
the system that can offer a competitive advantage and customer satisfaction
within the functionalities of the CRM system.

            Relationship management is of great
importance when it comes to the considerations needed for a company like APUA
to embark on a roll out of a new CRM system. It requires engaging stakeholders
and their relationship to the proposed project. Proper leadership, actively
communicating and providing feedback with each stakeholder and having in place management
strategies that enable the organization to manage any conflict that may arise
from the implementation. Though this paper was designed to research these
points there were limitations as these are based on experience this writer has
from CRM implementation within the organization and a lot of the information
studied support the need for a change in the behavior of primarily top
management on their decisions on how to go about CRM implementation without
accurate feedback from the employees who use the system on a day to day basis.

 

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