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Evolving CRM.  What is Digital Transformation?

Introduction

The World of CRM is changing and nowadays a CRM project will be just one core component in a Digital Transformation project. Whilst this concept is gaining more and more air time and notice, this blog really attempts to identify what Digital transformation really is and what you need to consider for your business. So the four questions we want to answer are:-

• What is Digital Transformation?

• How do you go about it?

• Do you need it and why is it so topical?

• What does it look like?

In this article, I want to focus on the first two aspects…

What is Digital Transformation?

The term Digital Transformation is now gaining a lot of traction and increasingly being added to Tenders. But this really key term has come about over the last few years and from a CRM perspective means CRM and the concept of CRM remains at the heart of these projects. Put simply, without a robust and well aligned CRM system, digital transformation will either not happen or be effective. It will be like a car running on just three tyres!

How do we define it?

A good and simple definition, from Wikipedia, as good a source here as any , and a definition which is easy to relate to:-:-

“Digital transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspect of human society…

The transformation stage means that digital usages inherently enable new types of innovation and creativity in a particular domain, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods.”

This last sentence appeals since it uses technology and recognises that in today’s increasingly online digital world, technology acts as a disrupter.

In essence, we see that from a business B2B perspective, this enables us to gain an end to end understanding of the whole Lead to Prospect to Customer and Customer to Advocate process and how this impacts your business in today’s digital world. From an application perspective, it is the merging of the various software vertical sectors for Marketing Automation software blended into and aligned with your Customer Relationship Management other systems such as Web sites, email marketing etc so your clients have a complete throughput of digital data from their first digital engagement as a suspect to prospect to customer.

Previously, CRM was central, but we added bolt-ons were created for tactical marketing usage such as Email marketing, Social Media integrations and now this whole process can be defined and created almost as seamless process, depending on the applications chosen.

We can see this as an outer and inner ring, with the CRM being at the centre, since at some point all contacts will be drawn to the CRM centre after qualification criteria have been defined.

Do we need it?

Digital Transformation has shown repeated success and most Footsie100 and Fortune 100 clients now have digital transformation in place or have initiated and implemented them over the last 5 years.

This concept is now rolling into the SME market where the applications themselves have evolved tremendously in the last 5 years to offer true value and with the cloud, seamless integration between and within applications.

How do you go about it? The First Step

Digital Transformation project will often go through a number of stages, buy the first stage is Awareness of the need for some sort of digital transformation strategy and plan.

So, in my view the first step is to understand and audit your existing business processes and how your clients engage with you from the initial introduction to after they become a customer.

You will probably find that many new clients over the last five years have first engaged you through some sort of on-line activity, now in 2017 this can take many forms

• Website Visit (either known visitor or tracked)

• Social Media including LinkedIn approaches

However, you may still engage through more traditional methods including trade shows and referrals, but they key concept here is that for most new clients and indeed many existing clients, they will have engaged with you in many ways through some sort of digital journey.

You need to understand or try to understand this journey and then review the ‘gaps’ in your process. Typically, for many, this could be that there is no clean line into their CRM system.

Once in CRM, then most contacts can then be tracked and followed, up but this outer rim of engagement can often involve different system which may or may not be talking to each other.

A typical engagement may be to use Hubspot, for Marketing Automation and integration with your website, an application we have used extensively since this has native (i.e. in-built link) integration with ‘best of breed’ CRM applications such as Dynamics 365 and Salesforce.

In fact, your whole website can be hosted on website or just sections such as landing pages. This integration will often act as your first point for the Client journey with information, at some point then passing through into your CRM system, possibly based on key criteria, which will talk about in a later blog.

Where to Start?

So, as a first step, prior to looking at a whole project, we recommend you audit your existing systems I use and you may be surprised, so feel free to request our Beginning your Digital Transformation project Checklist.

A future blog will then consider what happens next and explore the stages you need to go through to develop and plan your Digital Marketing Strategy?

31st August 2017

Do you need a CRM MOT?

Is now the time to perform a MOT on your CRM system?

Now this week Summer finally arrived, this is a good time to consider if your system is up to speed and performs well and if your Users are getting the most out of the software.

At this time of year, the system tends to be used on a daily basis for updating of day to day activities, opportunities, cases, so in our experience, this is a great time to conduct a MOT or better know perhaps as an Health-check or Audit.

For many B2B Companies, September can be the start of an intensive sale and marketing campaign focussed on achieving year end targets, be that sales for in closing Opportunities or Marketing for maximising lead generation and ensuring Sales have a steady supply of Marketing Qualified Leads.

So, why undertake a CRM MOT now?

From the mid-year onwards, you will now have a host of good data you can review, for example on:-

• Leads and Opportunities

• Campaigns

• Accounts and Contacts

• Cases and SLA Compliance

• Reports and Dashboards

• Data Quality

  • User Interactions and training

You can review this information and over the next 2 months develop or refine your plans and make sure you system is ready, so for example you can:-

• Make any needed changes during these quieter months (complete with updating your training materials such as Playbooks).

• Look to ensure that your overall system and processes are optimised or tweaked as needed.

• Looking at any specific additional training requirements for your Users.

• Looking at where you can clean data or reduce deduplications

• Review System performance and integrations.

All in all, then, this Summer is an ideal time to focus on how your CRM system can be optimised and made ready to meet your year-end targets.

What should a CRM Audit include?

Here are some suggestions from our experience, grouped by function and assuming you have a full CRM system (i.e. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service functionality), rather than just a legacy Contact Management system where not all the items below will be relevant. Within a blog, we can give you some indicators, but a typical Audit may range from ½ a day to a full or even more days depending on the depth and documentation outcome you require. As a starter, here are just some of the items we look to cover:-

• Marketing: Lead generation, Sources Review, Campaign effectiveness, Lead to Opportunities conversions metrics, number of Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads (and differences).

• Sales : Open Opportunities, Opportunity conversions, Opportunities velocity, Legacy open Opportunities (there are always some!). Won and Lost reasons review, Marketing feedback loop effectiveness.

• Customer Service: Number of Cases open, Average per month rates, types of Case, Trends, Closing and Response times, SLA compliance, Knowledgebase articles, top 10 Case problems review.

• Portal or Self Service usage: If you have a portal, how effective or engaging is it, who is using it, who is not using it? Can we develop this more? Is it saving us time or money or can it in new areas (e.g. adding Self Service knowledgebase articles or reviewing these, new ideas).

• Reporting: The audit gives us a chance to reflect on how useful the current reports are and if these should be made into dashboards or do we need to create any new or amend existing reports. Are they being used? Should they be automated?

• Technical Review: Performance issues particularly, speed, storage sizes, email integration issues, other integration or data feed audits.

• User Review: Who is using system and who is not? What is the average frequency, (look at actual log-on, log-off times). What is the nature of usage e.g. mobile or desktop usage. Are there any outstanding User engagement issues or requests. Any mobile usage and trends are important to review since nowadays this can be a key indicator of Sales Team usage and how easy the tool is to use via your mobile device. This can be a key questions in any User Feedback survey.

• Data quality. Here we are looking at duplicates, quality of data, especially amongst new records created this last six months.

A CRM system more than any other software relies heavily on your Users enthusiasm, sense of ownership and their willing adoption. This half year or Summer review is we think the perfect time to conduct a User Feedback Survey or questionnaire. Since this time of year gives you an opportunity to gain direct feedback from your Users. Let them know you are reviewing the system and you welcome their input and suggestions. This can throw up some enlightened ideas and helps to reinforce your User Adoption and ownership success. Importantly, you may be able to initiate quick wins and response prior to the September blitz.

From this Audit and User Survey, you can also review and better understand the need for any refresher training either due to ‘gaps’ in knowledge, understanding or because you are amending the system.

If you have time, it may also be useful to look at training needs and competency by Role/User.

As you can read, whilst this is not an exhaustive list and we cover a lot more items in a full one day review, you can see potentially there is a lot to consider. Our ebook on this subject adds to this list.

Who should do it?

Again, our experience shows that overall having external consultants such as ourselves can give you additional insight, shared best practices and offer a wider experience and that an internal audit may not pick up all this up as well.

What result should I expect?

A good question. And of course it does depend.

But when we do a CRM MOT/Audit we put together a detailed report on performance and feedback, hence the usefulness of the User survey or questionnaire and depending on audit time booked, then more information on how the system can both be improved and what changes should be made can be included

We are also as mentioned can offer additional insight and recommendations on your overall CRM Eco-system as well and how this can be better balanced and improved. 

So, all in all July and August are the ideal times to slot in a day’s health-check audit as well as the fact that CRM consultancies themselves are usually in this period pretty flexible and able to fit this in between projects.

This gives you then the balance of August and maybe the first week or so in September to either make changes, arrange refresher training on a process or just to ensure your plans fully align with your refreshed system capabilities.

Taking the opportunity now to organise your CRM Audit or MOT in can help you reap dividends quickly and can help to ensure that focus and feedback are on how it is going to deliver over the final four months of the year. Useful insights into the system performance should mean you are able to make minor adjustments to improve overall performance levels.

Finally, if you are interested in the ebook on this subject, please contact us here to request your CRM Audit ebook

25th June 2017

The CRM and Technology Gap

Mind the Gap!

It is always worth reminding ourselves that when we introduce CRM, it is very easy to customise and configure the system to suit your own processes, but of course, as numerous companies have found, this can lead to a number of issues...

Typically these include:-

• Costly and or just time consuming customisations as opposed to configuration. By customisation we mean coding, for example small pieces of javascript.

• Upgrading problems. We come across many companies who have so customised their system that when a new version comes out with significant database schema or other differences, the upgrade itself can be a timely process and often needs rigorous and lengthy testing and then coding amendments first.

• Users can get lost and also not always fully understand their process when applied to CRM.

So, when introducing your system, you need to be aware first and foremost of both your existing processes, so, some of the questions we ask are:-

• Are they right?

• Are they documented and more importantly clearly understood?

• Are they actually needed?

• Can we change or modify them to fit the system better?

For example, we had one customer who insisted that their renewal contract for their clients, had to be based on joining dates, clear enough, but that this had to be based against whether it was before or after 21st? of the month . So it moved to 1st or 30th of the month each side of the line for invoicing!

Why? Because that was what was always done. Rather than just base it on the date and then invoice.

Solving this issue in the CRM system chosen by them (we had come into rescue the project), involved around 1-2 days of extra work. Taking the configured or out-of-the-box solution would have saved them £1500….and for what? To their clients this difference meant nothing, they just assumed an annual renewal date as per car or home insurance. To them it was just an annual renewal date!

There was no benefit to anyone, apart from we had 2 extra days consultancy! But, this meant 2 less days from their budget and from our perspective, 2 less days where we could have added some value. There was no value in this process.

Delving through the archives, this illustration is a great example of why you need before or during your scoping of any CRM project to take the opportunity to re-look at your processes and take time to consider if they can be modified or changed to better suit the CRM system and most importantly save you cost and time and effort in customising the system this process.  This is what we call mapping the Technology Gap

Conclusion

So, in any CRM Project, you need to understand if there is a ‘gap’ between your existing process and how this can be applied to your new CRM system.

Ask yourselves the key questions as we have stated above to identify if there is a  ‘gap’ between the actual process and how this can be applied within the CRM system.

Does it need costly and time consuming customisation or can the process either be amended or improved to better fit the software, saving you time and money in the long run. Can it be improved?

This is the essence of what we can the “Technology Gap” and this is why when we are looking at Scoping Workshops, understanding  or when you are looking at how to optimise your CRM system, you need to consider the three pillars of CRM planning:-

• Technology

• Processes

• People.

This blog focuses on the need to review and if required adjust your processes.

We see this as an opportunity to gain feedback, ask questions and not just accept the status quo. With Business Process Reviews, you can find that, often you will be able to simplify a process or certainly reduce its complexity.

Bearing all this in mind, it is why a key starting point before the CRM Scoping workshop can be a Business Process workshop held either internally or with our help and it is why companies such as ourselves who are looking at the complete Lead to Customer process and involve not just CRM, but Marketing Automation will offer this as a key part of the service.

22nd May 2017

Data Nightmares in CRM!

As we come to the end of another CRM project, in this instance by far our biggest challenge has been the data migration and importing. This project has had more issues than usual, but the difference here was that I was very closely involved with the whole data migration project and so have re-learnt some invaluable lessons!

What are the lessons learnt from these last few weeks, when I was back in the data migration trenches so to speak!!! Here are some invaluable lessons, worth repeating!

Agree ALL data sources in advance

Never accept or confirm your quotation until you have all the data available and have seen this. Anything that is added after an agreed list of Sources should be costed separately, this protects both you and the client. As an example in this project, we have 3 separate core sources, but in each source, were myriad individual spreadsheets

Lesson learnt: Data migration costing is Always “subject to sight of data”, now we are adding the caveats (up to 2k records in one source and “ALL data Must be seen in advance.” Data sent after the cut-off date will be treated as NEW and costed accordingly!

Insist on common format

Again, whilst in this instance a common format template was issued, individuals then decided to re-label columns and add new columns to their own data, so almost creating their own individual data format!. So we had to check and ensure every excel column matched before import, despite a common template being issued to prevent this!

Lesson learnt here is Client need to be aware of time this can take and again this is chargeable.

Press for unique ID if possible.

If not create one as invariably you may be asked to add more data at some point and this can be time well spent.

Lesson Learnt: This can save a lot of time in re-work, there shouldn’t be any of course, but in the real world….

Ensure Client reviews and looks at their own data first.

Much time was spent in trying to put data into some sort of shape. So, for instance, in telephone field there were email addresses, in postcode there were Towns and in towns Zip codes. This was due in part to various source exports.

Lesson learnt. This is for the client, since they will better understand issues and avoid paying for re-work which they could have done before submitting.

Ensure a good import utility tool

The lesson here is to cost this in initially, invariably data once starting to be looked at gets more complex especially in a new system where data sources are often excel with multiple contacts. Most CRM system struggle with this, especially as it is often the case there are no matching ID or unique fields created, so deduplication is needed.

Lesson learnt. Include this as an allowance always since at some point, you may need as you see the data arrive and requirements grow from simple to the ‘is it possible or can you just add this?”

Within the ebook download request, we include more Lessons together with an additional list of Data Import ‘Gotchas’ that should be reviewed as well.

A final lesson is:-

Allow for adequate Client Testing time

The client importantly must have their project team or designated testers available for a ‘first pass’ testing for EACH data source and these do need to be signed off. Yes, this sound very bureaucratic, but time and again, clients give data imports only a cursory look, glad to see their data moving across from the old system, but then don’t look at the detail. For the consultant importing, this is just ‘data’ and they don’t always see the minute differences or nuances that can be in there in placing information in slightly differently. Invariably it is a new look and format for the new CRM system, so time must be paid and checklists created!

Lesson Learnt: UAT team need to have a conference call and test and review data closely.

Conclusion

When speaking with clients, the term ‘best endeavours’ is really the most apt, since we are so reliant on the quality of data and more importantly data consistency. But, here Is the good result, as discussed with this client, they now have a single centralised database in their Customer Relationship Management software. This now means that the new system data is consistent, accurate and de-duplicated data, thus preventing the myriad ‘silos’ of information building up again.

Yes, Data Migration is time consuming and can be expensive and this is do due to the complexity of source data and mapping data across to new system. IT project suffer from this, and it is one reason why the Big Banks and Government have so many big failures and delays, since Data Migration can be a nightmare and you can lose sleep, so take these lessons to heart!

More lessons and some important data gotcha’s are contained in the downloadable ebook Data Nightmare Lessons in CRM.

27th March 2017

Using the Carrot and Stick in CRM

We have all heard of the carrot and stick analogy and this is often applied to Sales teams.

Customer Relationship Management software projects, in addition to good system design and choice, in particular are very dependent for their success on the following factors:-

  • Sales Team culture

• Existing sales and marketing processes

• Ability to take ownership of their data

• Enthusiasm and commitment to CRM

A lot of time is spent on these topics, in education, design and in cleansing data and of course in training.

However, the history of CRM is littered with projects that have not been successful, and whilst you can argue what this actually constitutes, nonetheless, in my view, uniquely, CRM adoption does depend to a large degree on the attitude and commitment to the system by the Sales Team, more so than in comparison with other more regimented software applications such as ERP.

In any sales team there will be a mix of some who readily adopt and update the system on a regular basis and embrace the benefits and usefulness of the software in helping to manage their day to day activities and reporting, whilst for others, they may well be, shall we say, less than enthusiastic.…hence the consideration of the use of the Carrot and the Stick.

So how can we use this approach when introducing a new system or indeed in revitalising a project?

Let’s split the two elements down with Carrot Factors being now relabelled as Motivators and Stick Factors being the Non-Compliance Motivators or in plain language, Penalties!

Motivating or Carrot factors

Save time. Yes, an extra 5 minutes adding information when it is still fresh can save time and embarrassment in future. I always say whenever a price is mentioned, record this in your notes since every customer and prospect always remembers a price that is quoted. This also saves times for others, so 5 minutes now can save either you or others an hour further down the line!

Less conversations with the Boss! The Manager can see information now easily so this should lead in theory at least, to fewer internal ‘update’ meetings and those that happen should be more focussed.

Less time producing Management reports or even, now don’t have too! If the system is kept up to data and data is inputted correctly (there are aspects here of good system design) then Reports just need to be generated on the basis of a click.

More and better Qualified Leads. Marketing rely on good quality data and their campaigns will be better focused and targeted with an up-to-date relevant source system.

Better Opportunity Conversion ratios. So, it follows that if the data from marketing is better, less time is wasted on chasing ‘tyre kickers’ and the engagement with prospects should be improved, which can lead to shorter lead times and better conversions.

Less chasing from Marketing. If contact data is correct, marketing can rely on the quality of data, making better engagement campaigns and less chasing, for example ‘Titles’ not being completed is a pet hate of mine over the years.

Fewer internal meetings or corridor meetings, and those that are needed, can with information from CRM, dive straight into the point and be shorter.

Finally, with any good design and implementation, there should be less paperwork for the Salesman…..always a big motivator since both Management Reports and Marketing Reports should be able to be taken directly from the system and confidence in a well-maintained and up-to-date system will in turn give Management confidence. A poorly maintained system conversely could lead to more of the above since data gaps will become self-evident. E.g. No Closing date, No update on an Opportunity Stage for weeks, No Titles, Missed Closing Dates or just no notes or activity on the Opportunity!

….which nicely leads us onto, shall we say Non-Compliance Motivators or in reality the Stick!

Compliance Motivators or the Stick factors

Here we need to consider ideas like:-

• Terms and Conditions. My view is that this works best with new appointees since the use of a system should be a key part of any new contract, in the same way as there is a duty of care to look after the new car, laptop and mobile, so using the CRM system is actually a key Role/Duty for any Sales Rep and they need to update the system on a daily basis.

Performance Bonuses. A common example of this are those tied to Sales Opportunity, for example, if it has not been created before the sale, none or more likely, a reduced commission applies! After all, the visibility of a Sales Pipeline in CRM is frequently a key reason for its introduction as well as accuracy.

Account or Ownership Disputes. One of the great things about CRM is that it tracks and date stamps the creation time and who created a record. So you can use this in disputes in terms of who created, gets ownership. Those that register the account first are the winners in any dispute, as the system proves this!

Expenses Payments. These can be cross-checked or indeed based on completed Appointments and some systems do this or there are integrations around. Possibly a bit onerous and often a sensitive subject!

But, my favourite mantra in any problem or conflict is that “If it’s not in CRM, then it didn’t happen!”

Before you apply both…

Firstly, you will need to consider and ensure that the sales teams views and input has been taken into account during the decision making process and there has been active engagement in any Scoping and System Design Workshop meetings. If the teams or chosen key members are actively involved, ideally with changes made and agreed to with the team, for example ensuring there are not too many fields on day one, this will help with adoption and usage without the need for too many or too onerous non-compliance motivators.

Secondly, my view is that the benefits of CRM should be sold in first to the team and that these are Big Self Evident Carrots and that the balancing Stick should be small. In fact, the bigger the Stick, then this is symptomatic of possibly more deep rooted problems and it may be time to revisit the design and choice of system being used, so you do need to recognise sometimes, the software itself may be the problem or this highlights other problems with the sales team.

Conclusion

When planning a CRM implementation, as in many software and IT projects, the psychology of the Users needs to be understood and taken into account, but consider beforehand the culture of your team and ensure you are aware of what the main motivators or carrots need to be and whether you need a big or small stick. Make it clear to all about not only the importance of the system, but why non-compliance has to be penalised, even if you reduce these penalties to a minimum, invariably there are lines of conflict between salespeople or teams and this is one of the great things about CRM, you can say “if it’s not there, it didn’t happen” and date stamping enables you to wield out those that are trying to ‘pull the other one’.

Now your own thoughts and feedback?

Whilst writing this blog, it became apparent that there are lots of possible ways to help motivate and penalise and I’ve tried to highlight just a few ideas in each category, so this does not claim to be a complete list of all factors. It would be interesting to hear readers own views and ideas of what Carrot and Sticks you have used and what results you have achieved. Indeed, what is your most successful Carrot factor!

20th February 2017

Changing your CRM in 2017

If you’ve had your CRM for a few years now, then you may now be looking to change in 2017.

According to Gartner, over 80% of new CRM systems will be cloud based by 2020 and we are pretty certain that in the UK, this figure is at least 60% now if not more and has increased substantially since around 2012 as we came out of recession and companies started investing in software again...

There are a few key reasons for this and borne by our experiences, we think that two of the main reasons are:-

Hardware investment. The focus has been since 2010 on reducing hardware expenditure and in reducing IT staff overhead. Clients are trying to reduce their hardware infrastructure and capital investment (capex) costs well as their day to day operational costs, including in-house IT staff by looking to outsource more. Over the years, the cost and need for hardware, even with virtual servers still means investment and someone needing to maintain and upgrade these servers.

Office365. With the massive take up of Office 365, cloud based applications are now mainstream for many clients and in daily use on their smartphones, hence this has been another driving factor in encouraging more cloud based application adoption. Of course, this is also driven by Microsoft Dynamics CRM focus over the last few years to make cloud based CRM the first choice amongst start-ups and SME's.

However, whilst it is not all sunny skies, since you are now locked into either an annual or monthly recurring payment, but at least your investment will always be up-to-date and it is not your problem when upgrades are released. Strangely, upgrades seem to be more stable when released by cloud providers on their own hardware!

So, if you are looking to change this year, then what should you be looking for in choosing your next CRM system?

Here are five key factors that influence us when we are reviewing new CRM applications for clients:-

Pedigree. Our view is that having a robust and well known and respected application is a key element in reducing your risk.

Evolving CRM. Sounds obvious, but some systems and especially older legacy on- premise applications appear not to be so keen to develop and continue to develop their applications and again, this doesn’t appear with cloud based systems who are always keen  for others to integrate with them, giving you the ability to create your own CRM eco-system.

Cloud based. This means in our view, you effectively just sign up and start using the system. There is no need to do anything else or indeed worry too much when starting your trial as long as you have previously done some due diligence on your chosen application.

• Support network. Here, we think this is a key factor, so you need to ensure that the vendor has in place UK support, be this in terms of partners or the vendors own staff. Invariably, you may want some customisation, specialist training or indeed just someone to call to ask a question.

Customer base. Ideally, you may want to talk to other clients or just know they have a reasonable size customer base in the UK and this is led to some extent by their strategy but also the point above. Having no UK or partner base should probably be seen as an ‘amber’ light warning sign that the base is not big enough yet to sustain dedicated resellers or UK based staff.

With over 300 applications available in the CRM market, you don’t want to take a chance with some of the smaller applications that may not last.

Our final recommendation is that you find an independent CRM consultant such as ourselves who are able to suggest, recommend and endorse the best solutions and create a short-list of the most viable solutions for your business. Given our extensive experience, having a wide network of industry contacts gained over 20 years in the industry means we can give our clients the best advice we can.

A great starting point is to request our CRM Checklist. In CRM, the key is in choosing the right fit application to match your business requirement and your team. Not doing this can end up costing you money, wasted time and stress!

11th January 2017

What work needs to be done on your CRM system over the Christmas period?

Well, with Santa probably just already about ready to start loading his sleigh, what work do we need to do on our CRM system before the year end and indeed what should we do if we are having to work over the festive period?

Here are my top ten tips for making the most of the next two weeks:-

• Ensure you have Backups of all your files. Now is the time to check this with your IT, especially if you have any planned maintenance work and indeed have an on-premise CRM installation. For cloud CRM users, this should not be a concern.

• Don’t do any major data imports or data deletions. Whilst this appears to be a good time to ‘tidy up’ the system, now is not the time to do major changes to the database. Key people are often pre-occupied or off on holiday and others many not give you the time you need as the minds may be understandably sometimes not fully focussed this week.

• Don’t go messing around and improving or changing workflows or automations as our experience shows that your Users want to come back to the system pretty much as they left it. They won’t thank you for improvements made as they will have their own ideas on what they want to focus on in that first week.

So, that’s really a few Don’ts’ …and now the Do’s

• Do some investigative work on your database, but please no changes. For example, identify all those key contacts with no email address or incorrect emails or where your Christmas Newsletter has a bounce. Start to look at and possibly flag these records for when the Users come back.

• Consider running some duplicate testing. This will be welcome as long as you don’t actually merge anything, it is always the wrong parent-child that is merged! But consider flagging these records ready for User investigation and approval in those first days back.

• Review which custom fields are filled in and frequency. For example, is the “number of employees” field always completed. Is it needed still or are there other fields more important that perhaps should be moved around the screen? Remember, screen design is a key ingredient in User adoption.

• Look at your existing Reports and also your key Metrics. Which Reports are used and do these need updating? What are the key metrics from the year, how do they compare to last year. Are these being accurately measured?

• Review your Active and Lapsed customers. Again, don’t make any actual changes, but create a List or Group for your Users to review when they return. You should have clear written guidelines on what a “Lapsed Customer” is based on your industry.

That first week back after New Year can appear to be slow as customers and suppliers pick up where they left off and many sales people are reluctant to make calls on the first day so this is a good time to possibly ‘ask’ if they can review work like this that you have done over the holidays.

All of which leads me to my last few recommendations…

• Update your User Manuals, Playbooks and SOPs. Probably the best time to do this as you can run through these and add-in or tweak the manual ready for either new training in the New Year or for training new recruits. Having up-to-date manuals and doing this work now when there is less interference and interruption can be a great use of your time. It is certainly something we do. Update any SOP (Standard Operating Processes) documents ready for a review in the first week you are back. This may just be a case of simply adding in new screenshots to show a process better or more relevant screenshots.

Finally,

• Make a list of possible improvements you may want to make to your CRM in the New Year, ready for the first Sales or Marketing Meeting. This should include ideas for reducing clutter on the screen, replacing/relabelling or simply adding or taking away custom fields not readily used. Your case here will be helped by any previous analysis as suggested above. The simpler the screen here, the better. In addition, look at ideas for workflow or automation with the objective of making the sales team and your work easier. A good example for a support desk is the automatic case creation email to the client giving details of their case and a chance to respond/question the case that has been raised. Another element could be creating self-service facilities for clients to request items or raise a support case.

Hopefully, this list of questions will give you some ideas on how to maximise your time if you are having to work over the Christmas period and more importantly this will help to prepare your CRM system ready for the challenges of 2017.

As they say, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas….

28th December 2016

The Big Five in CRM:  Big Changes in 2016

Introduction

As we draw to the close of the year, it is time to reflect One of my most popular and commented posts was my interpretation of the Big Five in CRM, both for on-premise and for cloud based CRM.

2016 has proved to have been an interesting year and there have been big changes amongst the Big Five with one major brand exiting the cloud altogether in 2016.

My Big Five CRM Cloud - Changes in 2016

Salesforce

Continue to extend their new Lightning interface, although the big news was that the UK had a 33% increase in price for the Professional product to £60 per user per month for over 5 users (this rise was slightly less for the IQ product, a cut-down version for under 5 users rising from £17 to £20 per user per month, an 18% increase). With the various modules now needed to create a strong CRM eco-system, then this can become a major annual investment for a typical 10/15 user Sales and Marketing team. This is the size of team which we consider a good benchmark for most CRM usage amongst SME’s.

MS Dynamics CRM

The new Dynamics 365 was launched and we are expecting a price increase from January due to £ vs $ decline. Microsoft Dynamics CRM continues to expand its functionality and focus on social engagement. This was highlighted in the Summer by the acquisition for $26Bn of LinkedIn, the most powerful B2B social media tool and upon which many CRM applications focus their social media integration. This could be a game changer for social media engagement in CRM systems and is still under some dispute with rival companies claiming this is anti-competitive in US and within the EU where Microsoft have offered concessions in the last few weeks.

Now, this month, Microsoft announced the launch of Customer Manager , a basic in-built CRM system to their Office 365 offering for small businesses. This will have an impact in the lower end of the market, although how the take-up will be is too early to say. What we can infer is that this is clearly intended to act as a feed towards MS Dynamics CRM and probably reflects the knowledge gained from MS Dynamics CRM Online where the minimum licence count is now 5 users.

SAGE CRM

Another somewhat unexpected surprise was that SAGE CRM withdrew its SAGECRM.com application in October apart from existing clients after having a cloud based alternative to the on-premise application for at least 13 years since we are aware. This product was also attractively priced. My understanding from industry sources is that the focus is now going to be on more integration with the SAGE financial on-premise applications especially SAGE 200.

Other Players

ACT! moved seriously into the CRM Cloud Market in the UK and also moved to the subscription model pricing in July 2016 after earlier trials with clients and partners.

There have numerous other changes in the market and currently we are reviewing these with regard to a new updated list of the cloud CRM Big Five to reflect this years changes.

Some initial thoughts on 2017

So, what do we see happening  now in 2017?

For the first time, this years’ experience has shown and reinforced just from my meetings that as Gartner predicted a few years ago, the march of cloud CRM continues apace and this is especially true within the SME sector.

With all these changes together with more entrants into a crowded market, we will need to harness our thoughts for the next blog…

21st November 2016

Why you need a CRM Change Log

 Now you’ve implemented your new system, why do you need to have a central CRM Change Log.

Building on our CRM documentation theme from last month’s blog, for most implementations, we recommend that customisations are kept to a minimal during the important initial rollout period but there are always likely to be requests for additional ad hoc customisations as your team start to use the system in earnest.

This should be encouraged since it is a great indicator of User Adoption enthusiasm.

They will also start to provide you with new suggestions on how CRM can be improved or developed. One good example of this is the use of workflow automation, for example, the automated email to a client who has just logged a support call giving the details logged and their Case reference number.

All these enhancement suggestions need to be fed through to the Administrators and the original Project team or Steering Group, together with your consultants for their own advice and input. Not all suggestions are feasible or right at a particular moment in time.

Now, often during a project, your Lead consultant will track Change Requests in a log and after implementation this CRM Change Log needs to be continued and maintained by the Project team and Administrators.

One of the big issues we find, especially during migration or taking on a new client, is there being no real documentation on any of the changes that have been made to the original system. In many instances, the Administrators after their own training, are itching to create and add new fields or customise screens, but this needs to be controlled and managed.

Our advice is to create a centralised CRM Change Log document, listing the reasons and the rationale for these changes. This can be a simple MS Word or MS Excel covering the key elements of why the changes need to be made. This document may be stored centrally, often within the global documents section of many CRM systems.

This change log needs in my view should include most of the following:-

• Suggestions source, after all you want to credit those people giving suggestions.

• Nature and rationale for the change.

• Authority

• What was done and by Whom and When

• Notification method to inform the user, for instance, email or ad hoc training which then relates to...

• Amendments made to documentation, e.g. CRM playbook updates

These changes should always be authorised which is why we always suggest where possible a minimum of two Administrators, with one being part of IT to consider the system implications of any changes. For example, the adding of a new field. Does this impact on any other processes or more often on any Reports/Dashboards which may also need to be updated to show the extra field.

After Go-Live the CRM Change Log should be kept centrally and easily accessible and the Project team should really meet once a month, possibly every two or three weeks in the all-important first 90 days. These Change Requests all need to be approved and if required, budget approved if you need your external consultant is needed to implement these changes.

On this topic, in the first six months after Go Live you still need to maintain a close contact with any external consultants as they can advise on best practice and call upon previous experience. The first three months are the most critical in any CRM project and when need to ensure your on-boarding User Adoption process works.

If you are interested in our CRM Log book and Change Request template, then please feel free to email gary@thecrmcloud.co.uk.

Gary Perkins

23rd September 2016

8 Benefits of a CRM Scoping Workshop

Introduction

Typically, when discussing CRM requirements with our clients, we sit down during a Discovery session to get a better grasp and overview of their sales and marketing processes as well as delving deeper into their actual CRM customisation requirements. From this meeting and a software overview, in many instances, clients may know what they want or may still be undecided between a final two applications.

In either case, the next recommended step is to hold a CRM Scoping Workshop.

CRM Scoping Workshop

A Scoping Workshop typically involves a key members of the team, so for a full CRM project, you would involve key or Senior Management, a Project Sponsor (who is senior and who will be responsible internally for the project’s success and may also be the Client Project Manager) as well as members of the Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and IT and sometimes Finance teams.

Prior to the meeting, we would be asking for key documents such as business process flow diagrams and any key reports to be made available. Oftentimes, to kick-start the project, the Sponsor will indicate why the team is meeting and why the business is investing time and money in an implementation. We recommend at least a full day is needed to understand and document the key processes and how these can be applied in CRM.

Wherever possible, some items may be discussed offline as the Scoping meeting is not a talk shop, for example defining internal differences between a Lead or a Prospect or a Suspect should be clear before the meeting as well as any detail on field drop-down selections such as Industries classification.

The objective for the CRM Consultants is we have a clearer understanding of how and where the new system can help to streamline the entire sales process from Lead through to Client Retention as well as establishing what key Metrics and Reports are needed by Management. The CRM system should ideally reduce duplication of effort and reduce any existing ‘silos’ of information since all customer facing contact and day to day activities are now being centralised in CRM.

Other aspects dealt with in the meeting will be IT issues such as compatibility, importing of data (again, sample data should be available before) as well as the need for integrations with other applications.

The Outcome

From the Workshop, where we have both our technical and sales personnel involved to ensure continuity of our own process, the objective is to produce a first draft Functional System Design (FSD) document which can then be circulated for comment and feedback amongst the project team.

A follow-up meeting is usually required to delve into areas that are not clear or need further refinement.

The FSD is probably the most significant document in any CRM project, since it will outline what needs to be done to create a smooth implementation or migration to your new CRM system.

Experience shows that on bigger projects, not having a single FSD document can lead to confusion and wasted time and effort on the consultant’s side awaiting answers. A strong, robust and signed-off FSD document will actually save time and act as an additional internal CRM justification document internally.

8 key benefits of a Workshop?

Just identifying these 8 we have expanded this list ow to 16, but here are eight benefits divided into two broad areas - internal and external:-

Internal

1. Clear understanding of the Project Objectives and development and sharing of ideas to improve the business.

2. Internal communication and open discussion leads to better understanding and buy-in from key stakeholders.

3. Early Involvement of stakeholders will help create enthusiasm and momentum for new CRM (if we’ve done our job right!).

4. A strong FSD document acts as supporting ROI justification and can be used as a milestone document for further sign-off.

External

1. Clear understanding of client key business processes highlighting where CRM can resolve issues and reduce duplication of effort.

2. Understanding of core reporting metrics for CRM system leading to often, a clearer and simpler system design.

3. Ability to highlight phases as clients move to new system with milestones and breaks for feedback.

4. Overall saving in Consultancy and Project Management time up-front from robust FSD sign-off.

But the best example is a quote from a client who undertook this process a year ago

“The scoping workshop not only helped form the CRM detailed requirements, but importantly brought the team together to help to share and enthuse my vision of how we needed to improve and streamline our processes together. More importantly, a number of good ideas were brought forward from the team being involved early in the process with encouragement from CRMC.”

Next Steps

If you are interested in more information on what a Scoping Workshop should cover, then please download our ebook on a CRM Scoping Workshop which includes an outline of topics plus an expanded list of 16 key benefits here.

17th August 2016