Critique of the JISC Self-Analysis Framework for CRM

This post summarises some work that I have been doing to follow up PIPaL, our recent JISC project looking into Customer Relationship Management. PIPaL applied the JISC Self-Analysis Framework for CRM to our initial investigation of the potential for an institutional CRM facility. In this post I will pick up on areas where I felt that the Self-Analysis Framework could be improved or further developed. Some passing familiarity with the Framework (or an interpreter!) is advisable.

For the research supporting these conclusions please see my Critique of the JISC Self-Analysis Framework for CRM document on As development begins on the JISC Online CRM Handbook I hope this material will be timely. I'm afraid that the references are largely hidden behind academic publishers' paywalls, though :-(

Scope and Context

My key finding here is that the JISC Framework could do a lot more to draw examples from the education sector and the peer reviewed literature. There is much in the way of prior work in this area, and the findings are readily available. Examples include Svensson and Wood (2005), Driscoll and Wicks (1998), Wolf (2008) and Tierney (1999).

The JISC Framework also makes few allowances for the unique nature of the education environment.  Indeed the language of the Framework documents is that of business, and the jargon of “prospects”, “leads” and “sales” is still quite alien to most staff working in Higher Education - for this reason the PIPaL Case Study (Hamilton et al, 2010) refers to “Relationship Management” with no “Customer” prefix. The difficulties of reaching agreement in an environment where all the actors are effectively independent operators should also be noted (HEFCE, 2004).

The key role of Academics in the introduction of a CRM system is not discussed in the JISC Framework, and here the results of PIPaL and the other JISC Relationship Management programme projects may be useful additions to the literature referred to in the JISC Framework. For example, PIPaL found that the vast majority of the institution's commercial exploitation and consultancy leads were generated directly through the activities of Loughborough's Academic staff members and their professional networks.

The scope of the CRM implementation is also crucial – how does an institution decide whether to put a “full service” system in for use by everyone, or a system for use by (say) staff in external facing departments only? Advice and survey/case study results would be very helpful here. The KSA Partnership study (Heywood et al, 2007) offers much in the way of potential source material. The KSA Partnership carried out both qualitative and quantitative research into CRM adoption in the sector, and it is unfortunate that greater use is not made of their results to inform the Framework. This would be more relevant to readers in FE and HE than many of the examples that the Framework uses.

An observation from the literature of some relevance is that to carry out the analytical work required to scope out a CRM implementation, it may be necessary to put into place something that comes close to the functionality of a CRM system (Xu and Walton, 2005). This in itself may be a clue as to why many CRM implementations are reported as failing or being incorrectly specified (Lindgreen, 2004)

Business Process Modelling

The link between the Business Process Mapping and Business Process Re-engineering (Vakola et al, 1998 and Proesel, 2001) is not explicitly stated and there is a clear danger that users of the framework will leap to the conclusion that the Relationship Management system should be implemented around existing processes.

The JISC Framework presents a single approach to process mapping (derived from Fowler, 2003), with an implicit implication that this will always be appropriate.  The case study produced by the PIPaL project provides examples illustrating the problems that may arise when a “one size fits all” approach is followed.

In fact there are a range of techniques that may be applied when conducting Business Process Modelling (BPM), as detailed by Huckvale and Ould (1995) and Winograd and Flores (1986). In a future revision of the JISC Framework I would propose adopting a matrix model that allows the consultant to choose an effective tool for a given process mapping scenario (Kettinger et al, 1997).

I am particularly keen on the Value Stream Mapping technique (Rother and Shook, 2003).  This approach is particularly attractive as it combines information about the stages of a process where value is added with information about the timescales of the various stages of the process – e.g. time spent waiting, and what for.  I have previously blogged about Value Stream Mapping in the IT Service Desk, itself a key area where CRM would come into play.

Value Stream Mapping in the IT Service Desk

Conceptual Underpinnings

A lack of clarity may also be noted over core concepts – the JISC Framework’s descriptions of CRM and its uses tend to be at quite a high level. Business stakeholders and staff affected by the introduction of a CRM system would require additional information about day-to-day practicalities.  Some examples may be found in the literature, e.g. Boulding et al (2005) note the effect on consumer behaviour of being monitored and profiled via CRM.

The literature referred to in the JISC Framework tends to reinforce its rather upbeat message about the benefits of CRM technology. However, we do not have to search far to find some cautionary counter examples.  Comparisons may be drawn with Facebook’s “sinister” side (e.g. Jones and Soltren, 2005), in the absence of CRM specific literature covering data protection and privacy.

The concept of Customer Experience Management (CEM) is introduced in passing in the JISC Framework, but merits further coverage – there are some obvious quotes which could be teased out from the referenced material, notably Alperin (2005) and Peppers and Rogers (2007).

The concept of “institutional maturity” is presented without any further comment. This makes it difficult for the lay reader to determine whether institutional maturity is something that has been invented for the Framework, or is already in widespread use.  My own research has shown that this is a common label (King, 2006 and Cap Gemini, 2005), but failed to identify any literature focusing on the education sector.

In terms of the peer reviewed literature and its relevance to the JISC CRM work, the Complexity Theory perspective on Change Management  (Lewin and Regine,1999 and Olson and Eoyang, 2001), nicely contrasts with the Framework's more traditional process and procedure oriented approach to project management. The impact of emergent and episodic behavior may also be relevant. For example, Stacey’s Agreement & Certainty Matrix may be used to illustrate the “co-creation” approach to change management (Zimmerman, 2001 and Stacey, 1999).

The JISC Framework makes frequent reference to the JISC InfoNet infoKit series, but in a generic way that adds no particular material relating to CRM from the literature. Whilst the generic examples are complemented by anecdotal evidence around the introduction of CRM in the public sector.


A future revision of the JISC Framework might benefit from consideration being given to the following:

·      The sector’s existing use of techniques such as the Balanced Scorecard and Key Performance Indicators (e.g. HEFCE, 2009)
·      The role of Customer Experience Management in the success of leading brands such as Apple and Virgin, if no appropriate case studies can be found for the HE/FE sector (Burton, 2005)
·      Greater use of the literature around CRM in Further and Higher Education (e.g. Svensson and Wood, 2005)
·      Coverage of the subtle distinctions between “partner” and “customer” relations (Hamilton et al, 2010)
·      Inclusion of further material from other JISC projects, including the JISC InfoNet infoPack on Change Management (InfoNet, 2006) and the KSA Partnership Relationship Management study (Heywood et al, 2007)
·      Exploration of additional/alternative process mapping techniques such as Value Stream Mapping (Rother and Shook, 2003)
·      Greater use of the literature around CRM failures and how these may be avoided - such as by improving engagement with employees (e.g. Bohling et al, 2006)

There should be a wealth of data available about the recent initiative to introduce CRM across local government. Unfortunately key results from the programme appear to have been lost due to there being no Digital Preservation strategy (Farrell, 2010) in place at the time of this work – something to avoid for future projects. The key players in the “CRM National Programme” are well known, and qualitative interviews might help to inform further work by JISC in this area.

The literature suggests that both the mechanistic elements (project and programme management) and the softer (people oriented) side need to be considered alongside each other, and that a time of great upheaval such as the introduction of a CRM system can usefully lend itself to a re-examination of the organization’s “mental model” (Kolind, 2006).

Finally, it has been observed that documents such as the JISC Framework play an important part in channelling research results back to practitioners. JISC potentially have a key role here in terms of fostering deeper engagement between Academics and CRM practitioners.


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Bohling, T, Bowman, D, LaValle, S, Mittal, V, Narayandas, D, Ramani, G and Varadarajan, R (2006) CRM Implementation: Effectiveness Issues and Insights. In  Journal of Service Research, Volume 9, Number 2, pp. 184-194.

Boulding, W, Staelin, R, Ehret, M and Johnson, W J (2005) A Customer Relationship Management Roadmap: What is Known, Potential Pitfalls and Where to Go.  In Journal of the American Marketing Association, Volume 69, Number 4, pp. 155-166.
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HEFCE (2004) Effecting change in HE. Higher Education Funding Council for England, report number GMP 201.

HEFCE (2009) Participation in higher education continues to widen, Higher Education Funding Council for England Key Performance Indicators.  Internet publication:

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Kolind, L (2006) The Second Cycle: Winning the War Against Bureaucracy. Wharton School Publishing.

Jones, H and Soltren, J H (2005) Facebook: Threats to Privacy.  MIT Term Paper, Internet publication:
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Lindgreen, A (2004) The design, implementation and monitoring of a CRM programme: a case study. In Marketing Intelligence and Planning, Volume 22, Number 2, pp. 160-186.

Olson, E E  and Eoyang, G H (2001) Facilitating Organizational Change: Lessons from Complexity Science. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
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Proesel, J (2001) The role of process in CRM: Putting it on paper.  ZDNet TechRepublic Internet publication:
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Stacey, R (1999) Strategic Management and Organizational Dynamics: The Challenge of Complexity. Prentice Hall.

Svensson, G and Wood, G (2007) Are university students really customers?  When illusion may lead to delusion for all.  In International Journal of Education Management, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp. 17-28.

Tierney, W G (1999) Building the Responsive Campus: Creating High Performance Colleges and Universities.  Sage Publications.
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Xu, M and Walton, J (2005) Gaining customer knowledge through analytical CRM. In Industrial Management and Data Systems, Volume 105, Number 7, pp. 955-971.

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