Happy New Year to all and I have been so busy writing for other publications like Search CRM and Destination CRM I have been neglecting some of my blog duties. Nevertheless, here we are again waking up to another promising year and and even more innovative year in the world of CRM. When you look at some of what SAP brought us last year in their CRM suite, Microsoft’s dynamic improvements (yes, pun intended), and Salesforce’s next Wave (couldn’t help myself) of functionality one has to ask where their priorities should be in trying to make their CRM better. The answer, surprisingly, may not be in what you put in or what you take out.. it may be on how you provide a better user navigation and ease of use to those whose job it is to navigate and use your CRM every day.
I wrote an article a while back talking about the shiny new toy syndrome in CRM and how software vendors and SaaS publishers are always jumping to the next big thing. And, while innovation is great and some of us don’t have any idea of how we would get along without some of those innovations, it is increasingly hard to get any type of momentum and real productivity gains when we are constantly shifting that which we have not perfected. There are lots of examples to site so we will run through a few of them and then talk about some methods for ensuring that we know how to “throttle”what goes into production, why it goes in, and when it goes in.
In the small market CRM one of the biggest tragedies are emerging companies that try to bit off more than they can handle as it relates to CRM. The goal for most smaller organizations using CRM is to get a handle on communicating (email marketing) and bringing their people together in one unified place to handle either customer service issues or maintain a pipeline. Yet, many small organizations have jumped directly to integration to accounting or modifying their mobile experience when they haven’t gotten the basics down. What this leads to is confusion with the small number of users about what they should be doing and spending their time with. The end result is usually a lower adoption rate and questioning the value of CRM by team members.
Midsize organizations suffer from a different type of complex. Many of them are using CRM to try and solidify operational and sales process. Yet, many of them go overboard on customization and mapping of CRM to how they currently operate rather than trying to see if they would be better off learning why certain core functionality of CRM operates a certain way. What this leads to, in many cases, is the desire to plug in too many add on apps or needing to customize those apps to meet customization done on the core technology. The end result is much like the smaller organizations where users either have confusion on exactly what the goals of their usage of CRM should be rather than meeting business goals that have been clearly defined by the functionality. Not to say that the CRM won’t be extended over time but it is important to know why you are using specific apps and how they will enable meeting those business goals.
The last group are those enterprise organizations and their challenges are much more about priorities than they are about what CRM does for their organization. When there are competing groups inside an organization and some are driving for specific capabilities there is often not a good process for understanding how making these changes will impact the usability for the population as a whole. Often times we see that when one group has more of a mind share from internal project managers the other groups are left behind and their goals for CRM also get left behind. This is why it is important to have a feedback loop and a prioritization of what changes are made and their strategic value to the entire firm nut just and individual group. At the very least there should be a phased approach to enabling new apps and technology within an environment so that each constituency can have a measure of success in terms of business results.
So here are a few keys to establishing a process for reviewing, evaluating, and enabling new apps or functionality with your CRM instance.
1. Establish a CRM committee which includes users at all levels for discussing organizational challenges and goals on a periodic basis.
2. Generate a feedback mechanism for logging challenge areas or requested functionality.
3. Generate a “New Features” list of functionality communicated by your publisher regarding new capabilities or modules that you may want to implement.
4. Use a scoring system to create a priority list for your internal project team or outside consultant.
5. Validate the priorities against specific business goals.
6. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to make sure that you meet operational goals before jumping to the next set of priorities.
7. Re-prioritize each time your committee goes through the list because, as business conditions change, your needs will evolve as well.
Remember, functionality is only is good as the results it brings, and focus produces results. Now I am off to go look at all the shiny new toys the publishers are pushing as we start the New Year.