I had the good fortune to attend a presentation on Friday by Derek Johnson (IT leader at Nalco/Ecolab) who is responsible for leading the CRM initiatives at Nalco. The forum was a CRM user group – so a focused community of CRM users, partners and third-party solution providers to foster community sharing.
The presentation was well done and impressively laid out. It provided a historical perspective of the business, the challenges facing the business and finally, how they were using CRM at Nalco. The presentation, in my viewpoint, was not about technology. It was a story about sales transformation being pursued by business with the help of agile processes (like SCRUM) and tools (like Dynamics CRM). At a human level, it was also a story of organizational change management by creating highly functional, multi-disciplined and empowered teams to achieve the business goals.
Nalco is not alone in discovering the level of change that “agile approach” invariably brings forward to IT delivery. IT and business has long been conditioned to work in the world of “scope management” and “they & us”. Agile demands a 180 degree turn to this attitude. You are part of a team where by design “all” are co-located to the extent possible. The business uncertainty and change is constant.The scope creep is expected and even, welcomed. Paraphrasing the speaker, “Agile is not about knowing the entire route or even the final destination”. As long as there is a general sense of direction and the next milestone defined, the team can “sprint” along.
The shift to agile complements the growth of agile platforms like Dynamics CRM. In the world of custom applications, it was important to know all the fields and UI designs well in advance as each extra field could impact the budget and yes, the scope. The declarative programming model of Dynamics CRM makes it much easier to keep aligned with the constant changes typically demanded by agile processes.
Agile is not something that will work in all CRM implementations. As must have ingredients, you need: executive support, deep involvement from business, motivated teams & organizational willingness to embrace change in order to be successful. I am glad the recipe worked for Nalco.