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Blogs in 2014

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Why SOPs are the key to CRM Success

Recently my posts have focused on the challenges faced when introducing CRM systems such as the need for gaining User adoption and the use of On-Boarding techniques.Why SOP's are the secret to best use of your CRM.

One item which was mentioned was the need to have clear and documented SOP’s or Standard Operating Procedures. SOP’s can be critical in ensuring that your users have together with their CRM User Manual their own set of key processes documented. These Standard Operating Processes are used internally for informing and explaining to users critical workflows or information requirements.

What are the benefits of using SOP's?

Why is this just not adding more paperwork? In my view, there are four core benefits:-

• Available documented reference point for Users to refer too.

• SOP's ensure a Consistent approach in data collection or working that process. And a consistent approach is key in ensuring quality of input

• SOP's help with embedding systemisation, a key item when growing a business.

• Faster on-boarding of new Staff

Having good ,clear and simply to understand SOP's as Simon Williams of Arrivista, an award winning Action Coach has stated, is a key fundamental. As Simon says….

“Having documented process of your systems is perhaps the key building block we look for when reviewing and understanding businesses looking to grow. Our experience has shown that those companies with documented procedures tend on the whole to be a lot more effective and efficient in what they do. More importantly having SOP's means that the management team can focus on growing the business confident that new staff will adhere to the SOP's and follow the process. Not having any SOP's is a source of "growing pain" and this can inhibit their growth, so the systemisation and consistency offered by creating SOP's is well worth the investment in time.

A typical CRM SOP: "Capturing Sales Leads

Perhaps the easiest SOP to explain and the most common for new CRM users is the information required when entering a new Sales Lead.

This can be verbally given, but having a documented Standard Operating Procedure will help to embed this process and more importantly ensure consistency of approach.

For ourselves, one of our key user fields is the “Source” field containing a selection of how the Lead found us, for example, "Referral", "Email Campaign", "Website" etc. How your prospect found you or you found them is particularly important for marketing feedback and enabling Marketing (and Sales) to track and measure which campaigns are being successful in generating sales leads and ultimately Sales Opportunities and conversions.

So, completing the required information and process can be critical and after all, Sales Leads generation and quality is probably the biggest source of interaction between Sales and Marketing departments!

What information does a SOP for CRM contain?

These documents don’t have to be “War and Peace” with pages of information, better to just follow the sales processes through from initial lead through to quotation, order and customer service or helpdesk actions with simple clear and quick to update documents for each section.

We try to keep ours as simple as possible and mostly this involves screenshots as much as possible of that part of CRM, such as the Lead form with a description of why the key fields are needed to be completed as discussion earlier.

Typically, each department should produce their own e.g. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, which will all then evolve over time. A CRM SOP contents should include:-

• SOP Number

• SOP Title

• Overview Description and why it is important

• What the Process does and the importance of any impact further on down the chain

• Screenshot(s) and what are the key steps in this process

• What is the number of the next process this connects to.

• Issue Date, Author and document location

As mentioned earlier, the key is not to have to have a long documents since these need to be referred to quickly and easily. Our view is for either one of two page processes which are then easier to write, digest and implement quickly.

Your own CRM User manual should be used as reference here for the general use and flow of your CRM system whilst your SOP’s complement this with a focus on the specific steps or processes needing to take place.

For more examples of the sort of SOP’s, MAS have used plus some sample templates, please refer to our more detailed blog on this subject.

3rd November 2014

Moving from a Legacy system to New CRM…The Challenges: Part 2

In my previous article, I gave an example of what had prompted a client to move from two different systems; a pure Sales and Marketing system and a Service and Equipment Tracking system driven by then need for a single centralised CRM.

Now let’s look at the Migration Challenges!

In my view these are three steps you should consider prior to embarking on this type of migration:-

1 . Selection and Review of Core Requirements

Ensure you have gone through a selection process with your team, ideally with a CRM Advisor. Your team need to be confident that the chosen CRM solution is a good fit to your business and culture. Make sure the Project Team were actively involved in any CRM Discovery meetings.

2. CRM Scoping Workshops

For more complex CRM projects, we recommend a Scoping Workshop with your CRM Advisor to identify the fine detail down to a ‘screen by screen’ and ‘field by field’ basis. This is good practice even if it is a straight migration; you will learn what is needed and what is not Now!

This can be a great time to find out about any other databases that have evolved or been created to solve a problem. Another recent example was where high value “Samples” were sent to customers. The tracking of these inside of CRM was a simple addition and greatly extended its usefulness, now these are linked to the customer contact (and Rep) in CRM so are now easily logged and tracked. This meant quick and easy reporting and visibility and this simple addition saved everyone hours!

Once your CRM Scope is documented and mapped out, what next? …’s time for the two toughest words in CRM and the area where we and you, the client can potentially burn our fingers!

3. Data Migration

Data Migration may just involve some simple migration, but a lot first needs to be considered here!

In fact, according to recent 2013 Forester Research article, this was one of the main issues in any CRM implementation 

So in my view, as a quick guide, you need to answer these questions:-

• What data must to come across? (Do you need full sets of data or subsets of data, are there easy to agree cut-off data types – (e.g. Leads, Customers)

• How far back shall we go? (Cut-off may be this year or last year)

• Who is going to cleanse and data check prior to import? -clean data helps user adoption

• Will the ‘off-the-shelf’ CRM functionality be able to import this data or are third party tools needed such as Inaport ?

• What else? Do we need to link other documents or files types?

• Consider what is unique about your data? If you are merging multiple databases, as in the example above Which one will be the ‘parent’ or is more accurate?

• Final Big Question? Do your emails, histories, activities all need to come across per user? Think carefully here! Big implications often in the time and effort involved!

This need not be a tough decision, for many, your existing system or a back-up of it can stay in place and be used as a stand-by in read-only mode. For Cloud CRM migrations, you may look to archive or reduce to a single user for your transition period.

Before Go Live, consider a TEST Import with your Project Team


For your users, data quality, accuracy and its presentation can tremendously help or hinder their levels of adoption and enthusiasm. It can either inspire or reduce their confidence in their new CRM.

“My rule of thumb” is the more you can do and the less they have to do themselves, the better.

Think carefully about this and work out your own cost-benefit analysis. This is especially important if your users are luke-warm or reluctant to do much work themselves! Don’t give them the excuse of poor data being an excuse used not to use CRM!

Now, you have answered your Data Migration questions, next you will need to consider your CRM “On-Boarding” process. The next big Challenge is to ensure your Users have the right Training and Skills Competency.

Some proven ideas on How should you plan to do this is covered in Part 3.

By Gary Perkins

8th March 2014

Moving from a legacy system to new CRM…a typical case study - Part 1

Recently, I encountered a case of a legacy CRM system client who needed to move to a new CRM system. This was a typical case of a company that had embraced the concept of a managed CRM system 10 years ago and had developed a system themselves using internal resources.

With the upturn in the economy, migration CRM projects such as this are now back on the agenda for a number of reasons, including the usual need to stay compatible with IT and MS Office (remember Windows XP is out of life from April this year) and the need to streamline and improve existing processes to reflect the marketplace and needs of today, not of 5 or even 10 years ago.

This was classic case can be used to illustrate why we most often recommend proven CRM brands.

The client had a MS Access (2007) based database for their sales and marketing team, but a completely separate Paradox (very old) database for managing their customer service issues or cases and their installed equipment serial numbers , location etc. The problem was that neither of these systems talked to each other and that customer data was replicated across both plus both systems couldn’t be upgraded easily.

As the client said:- “We found that we were unable to move forward and needed to find an off-the-shelf solution that was quick and easy to implement. Our two systems were close to falling over and our key developer, whilst very good and able was now close to retiring. For us, these were business critical systems, which whilst they worked well individually were getting old and did leave us exposed. Our focus now is on developing our business into new markets and not in developing our own software. For us, it was far better to use an experienced consultancy to help us select a new CRM system. We were recommended to talk to MAS by our marketing agency, who have known MAS for 10 years.”

With custom developments, I also find other issues such as a lack of documentation and training material. Plus, the evolvement of the system has often been of an ad hoc nature. Most commonly, there is an often little integration with new MS Office packages (e.g. MS Outlook 2010).

But still the most common reason I come across is that the original database developer(s) have left or are about to leave the business. These system themselves were originally well designed and have delivered a good tactical solution for a number of years, making our migration easier. But they have lost some development momentum, so extra ‘databases’ often spring up to compensate (typically Excel Spread sheets are created to fill the gaps).*

Nowadays, SME organisations priority is on income generation, not in managing software development projects. After all, no one would now suggest developing a new word processing package themselves!

The position is in my view, the same for CRM, since I firmly believe that for most clients, there is no need to replicate what is already out there in abundance. A quick search showed 355 possible CRM systems, so where do you start?

If in any doubt, engage an independent CRM consultancy such as ourselves who have 16 years’ experience with a wide variety of CRM systems (GoldMine, ACT, MS CRM, Sage CRM, Sales Logix, Maximizer, Nimble CRM, and Our role really is to use our industry knowledge to help you to select the best CRM to match your business requirements.

*Part 2 of this Blog will talk about some of the challenges in moving from an old legacy system.

by Gary Perkins

7th February 2014

Should you create your own CRM system?

Or to put it another way, is it worthwhile designing and developing your own CRM system?

Recently, I had an enquiry from a large financial services company looking to purchase a large CRM system to act as their core platform, however, once they discovered the licencing costs for over 200 users and multiplied these over 5 or more years, the decision was taken to do this internally.  

For the first time in a while, this made me question if there are times when this should be considered, despite the fact that for the last 18 years I been recommending the benefits of why off- the-shelf CRM software such as GoldMine, SAGE CRM , ACT! and MS CRM is best!

Well, thinking about this situation, this particular company had a number of advantages:-

• They had strong and dedicated Project Management and Business Analysts’ team used to software projects

• They had their own established and stable software development team with excellent database skills and expertise

• A strong track record for delivering complex IT projects and custom solutions for their business users

• A variety of other industry specific systems needed to be integrated with , with which they were very familiar and had already integrated systems with many times over the years

• Their dedicated sales team were used to having and expecting customised solutions apart from standard MS Office/MS Outlook applications.

• Most importantly, they have long term financial stability and this meant that the IT team and many of the personnel had been in place for 5 or more years, thus a project may take a year or so, but the company were able to fund this and rely on a their core team of developers with many years of experience and low staff turnover.

Is this approach applicable to the smaller company?

My own view on reflection is that creating your own CRM still involves a high degree of risk and unless most of the core elements listed above are in place, can be too big a risk for most SME clients. CRM systems themselves have evolved greatly over the last 20 or so years and these are now often at the head of a range of complementary software, such as email marketing tools, marketing automation software etc.

For smaller companies, without the necessary financial resources and a strong and dedicated IT Development and Project Management team, replicating this depth of functionality would involve a lot of time, effort and risk. Even for software companies, my experience has shown that their own developers are increasingly being focussed on developing their own software for business income and do not have the spare capacity.

So what to do if you do not fit into this category?

Clearly, the key here is to engage with someone like ourselves who as an independent CRM consultancy can help you develop a business case, consider your core requirements and help you select the best CRM system from the wide range available. A recent survey we encountered, showed over 355 CRM systems capable of review!

In my view, our own role is to use our in-depth experience and knowledge of the market to help you select the best CRM for you. For more information or to request a CRM ‘Discovery’ meeting, please contact us using the form or call us

By Gary Perkins

17th January 2014