Welcome to CRM Risk Assessment, the fifth of our 8-part blog series, The Ultimate Guide for Your CRM Success. 

Thank you for following our CRM blog series!  As CRM strategists we believe your success depends on a clear understanding of the stages of a CRM journey.  Each stage includes its own unique planning, including risk assessment. The planning stages lead to and build upon each other, as do our blogs.

In the First 4 Blogs, You Have Learned How to:

Today, You Will Learn:    

1)  How to identify risks in the CRM project and the importance of a Premortem.

2)  Why you need to Acknowledge project risks.

3)  How to leverage a Risk Rating Register.

4)  Why you need to  Mitigate the risk before development starts.

In many instances after defining the Scope of the CRM project, managers and stakeholders alike think that they are ready to start the development of their project.  No! There is another important planning stage to address. Undisclosed risks exist for a number of reasons in a project. It’s important to follow our A.R.M. methodology: Acknowledge; Rate; and Mitigate to assess the potential risks before the CRM development begins.  To do this we will first start with a Premortem. 

4 Steps to Determine the Potential CRM Risks 

Step 1

Conduct a Premortem to Identify the Risks in the CRM Project

According to the medical profession, a postmortem is an investigation into the cause of death after a person has actually died. Families, physicians, and others want to discover what went wrong.  

A premortem, however, sets the stage for hypotheses as to what may go wrong. Imagine that death has already occurred and you speculate as to the reason for the hypothetical death.  In business terms, this can be called ‘foresight’. By imagining the death, or in a project sense, “Why did it go wrong?” will help to identify potential pitfalls and risks at the beginning of the project instead of at the end when the project failed. –  HBR Guide to Project Management

Gather the Stakeholders Insights

It’s important that all stakeholders involved in the CRM project take part in the premortem. Have each stakeholder make a list of reasons why the project may fail.  You are asking for their foresight. Combine all the stakeholders’ lists and you might be surprised at the results! 

For example, one of the success factors of a project was to integrate a CRM solution with an existing back-office financial software program in the finance department. The project team was not aware that one of the finance department initiatives in the following year’s project plan was to discontinue the use of the old software. They planned to use and install a new software package. 

Only one of the stakeholders participating in the premortem had that information.  Fortunately, his foresight brought to light a “risk” that no one else foresaw. At that point, the project scope had to be changed and redefined. 

What do you do with the risks now that they’ve been identified?  

A.R.M. Your Project Risks

I always manage my risks!

Step 2

Acknowledge the CRM Project Risks

Acknowledgment is defined as the acceptance of the truth or the existence of something. You need to accept that there are risks in every CRM project, no project goes perfectly.  What you do with the acknowledged risk defines the outcome. Like Hellen Keller’s warning, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn,” risk in a project doesn’t need to end the project, unless you fail to act. 

Once the risks are identified through the premortem, it’s important to determine the likelihood of each particular risk’s occurrence and the effect that risk will have on the project. You need to develop an understanding of the nature of that risk. To do this, you need to leverage a CRM Project Risk Register.

Step 3

Leverage a CRM Risk Rating Register

Rating the risk is part of accepting the risk and making all stakeholders aware of the risk. Providing visibility of the risk to the team allows a community of people to begin thinking of a solution. Multiple perspectives can bring creative solutions.

Determine the CRM Risk Significance 

Risk Assessment Worksheet Preview
Download our Risk Assessment worksheet by filling out the form at the bottom of this article.

Rank and rate the risk by determining its significance. The risk significance is the combination of two factors:

  • What is the likelihood that the risk will occur? 
  • What are the financial effects on the organization if it does happen? 

You make decisions based on whether the CRM risk is acceptable or egregious enough to develop a solution to mitigate it.  Evaluate and record the risk rankings to the Project Risk Register. Download a free copy of the CRM Risk Rating Register on our website. Fill out the form at the bottom of this article to download.

Step 4

Mitigate the CRM Risks

It’s been determined that a problem exists and has been presented to the stakeholders and the project team.  Now, how can you mitigate the risk? This takes team power, collected minds focused on the solution to the issue. Layout a clear risk mitigation plan and take action.  

Use the Project Risk Register to Identify the Highest-Ranked Risk(s) 

They become the main focus of the mitigation plan. The stakeholders and the project team need a collective way to alleviate the identified risk. This may be changing a deliverable, redefining an organizational process, or an employee role within the organization. 

For example, a CEO wanted a new CRM solution implemented in the call center for the call center representatives. However, during the Premortem Risk Assessment, it was determined that the CEO would be retiring prior to the deployment date of the CRM. The potential risk of the project interest waning because of the departure became an issue to address. The project team reached out to the CEO and determined who his successor would be and included that person as a stakeholder in the project as well. 

Mitigate the risks now before development begins. Save time, money and headaches!

Takeaway Tips: 

  • Do a Stakeholder Premortem for every CRM project.
  • Clearly identify the potential risks that may impact the project.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE the risks and determine the significance of the risks.
  • Complete the RISK RATING REGISTER – Fill out the form below to download.
  • Have an action plan to MITIGATE the risks.
[salesforce form=”5″]

Contact SMB Dynamics for A Free Consultation To Discuss How We Can Help You Do a Risk Assessment for Your Project.


Put November 28th on your calendar.

Blog 6 will help you define your CRM deliverables.

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