Preparing for CRM

This series of blog articles will take you through the steps required to prepare for your new CRM system.  They will be published weekly and link from this article, so bookmark this page to easily find the full series.  Part 2 can be found here:  Preparing for CRM:  Data.

Pre-Planning your CRM

Setting Goals, Aims, and (SMART) Objectives is as important when implementing CRM as it is with any new project. You need to consider what a successful implementation looks like to you. Simply stating, “We need a CRM” is not going to get you off to a great start to a truly effective system.  Ask yourself:

  • Why do we need a CRM?
  • What do we expect to see as benefits?
  • Who needs to access it?
  • What does “good” look like?
  • What should the ROI be?
  • What is the minimum benefit we expect to gain in the first instance?

These and similar questions help qualify that you are about to embark on a worthwhile project and that you have established some criteria to confirm your most important needs and quantifiable objectives that can be used to confirm success at the end of the project.

The minimum gain/benefit will help in the prioritisation of requirements so that you can focus on the primary benefits first.

With these defined, you can move on to the next important step, documenting your Processes.

Preparing for CRM: Processes

Moving to a new house?  They say the top 3 considerations are Location, Location, Location.  If you’re implementing CRM, it should be Processes, Processes, Processes.

Many organisations think they know how they operate; our experience of over 20 years is that most of the time, they don’t.  Put a group of employees in a room, from different parts of the business, and ask them “How does the business operate?” and you will get a wide variety of answers, many of which will be conflicting.  How can you define a set of requirements for a system if it not clear to everyone how the business operates? Or more accurately, should operate.

There’s a simple solution: look at the processes you want to implement before looking at a solution.  The root cause of many CRM implementation “failures” is a lack of understanding of the business processes.  Many systems are faithfully implemented to a set of requirements, but without any due diligence on the underlying business processes.  Many organisations do not have these defined and the implementation team do not question this.

Planning Your CRM - Processes

Where do you start?  There are Six key points to consider when looking at your processes:

  1. Review the processes with representatives from across the business, even if, on the face of it, a particular process may not affect their team
  2. Start with the end in mind – define the objective of each process, then work towards it
  3. Look to the future, not the past – how do you want to run your processes going forward?
  4. Think digital! Will users access information from their hand-held devices, or a portal? Could changes here improve your user or customer journey?
  5. Continually challenge along the way – use the “why?” question a lot!
  6. Use an external facilitator

The last point is probably the most critical and will help get the others right.  We are not talking a business processing re-engineering consultant necessarily, but someone with a reasonable business understanding (NOT technical) who can:

  • Ask naive, even seemingly “stupid” questions
  • Offer up left field ideas
  • Help you understand how the process affects their team and others in the organisation
  • Not be influenced by loyalties, in-house politics, historic culture, etc.

At QGate, we have these capabilities and advantages.  We have to ask basic/silly questions in order to understand the business, challenge the status quo and in doing so, also help your own people who had possibly assumed an answer but never were quite sure.  It often empowers others to ask questions or confirm (correctly/incorrectly) what others thought.

Suggesting left field options can also be very helpful. These come about because the external person is not constrained by the “norm” of the existing thinking.  In addition, an external facilitator of the right background should be able to add value in their own right, by sharing and offering up ideas and input based on their own experience.

Using an external resource to facilitate the business process review is a highly recommended and worthwhile investment in your business.

Document your findings in visual form: this is easier to understand than long-winded text.  Flow charts or swim lane diagrams are a much better option and support a “what if” check and balance approach, i.e. you can look through the flow and identify the impact of any breaks.  Literally, once you have a process flow defined, draw a line through it at various points and ask, what happens if it breaks here?

The final step: share all the great work you’ve done across the business.  Don’t hide it.  Keep the processes up to date and they’ll make a great resource to train new starters or help identify even more improvements to the processes and business.

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