As I mentioned in my ‘How long does CRM really take post’, Gartner consultant, Mark McDonald, used the phrase ‘popcorn applications’ in his ‘Everything is up for grabs, making it a great time for IT’ post, to describe applications that users want, can relatively easily be delivered, but which don’t generate much strategic value.

It was the first time I’d heard that phrase, and I like it a lot. It perfectly captures the essence of the problem that has dogged the CRM industry for years, that CRM technology has often been a popcorn rather than a strategic application.

Popcorn projects are not in themselves a problem as long as that was what was intended. The problem is when strategic projects unintentionally become popcorn projects. And that happens a lot more than it should.

The solution is to define up front whether your project is popcorn or strategic, and recognise that the approach, the resourcing, and the time-lines are significantly different depending on which you choose. Mixing a strategic objective with a popcorn approach just produces needlessly expensive popcorn.

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