Skip to navigation | Skip to content | Skip to footer

Blogs in 2020

Follow our blog to keep up-to-date with the most recent industry news & updates. Alternatively, you can browse our archive below.

Self Service portal support Customer Engagement


This post was very nearly entitled “Why are Portals not more common?” And this is a good question.

If you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform suite, then adding a self-service element of some sort to your website to improve customer service is shown to be of great benefit and well-liked by clients, in fact in UK, 86% of clients expected this according to a recent Microsoft Report

On today’s cloud based CRM platforms from the leading CRM vendors, this is often just another module you can deploy.

Since March, there has been a sea change in how customers interact with businesses, especially in the B2B sector where from face to face meetings still being the norm with traditional customer visits/presentations now having long given way to Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings. Whilst, in my experience nearly everyone misses this personal interaction, we have all adjusted to this more digital way of working.

This is part of a recurring theme which has just increased with the Covid-19 pandemic, since over the last five years we have seen a gradual digital transformation across many businesses, although this may not always be labelled as such, this transformation has now been greatly accelerated during the pandemic, with Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO saying at Insphire, Microsoft’s global partner conference in July, that in just 3 months, they had started more Digital Transformation projects than were predicted for the whole year.

This is much the same across all types of businesses and many types of consumer from ‘Millennials’ where there was possibly no change at all to the Baby Boom generation, many of whom have embraced, sometimes reluctantly, this new technology and have found themselves adjusting to using more and more apps from internet banking and contactless payments through to ordering items on Amazon from their mobile!

In this Digital Engagement world, the change is so big that in many areas, your customers now prefer to engage digitally first!  This really reiterates the need for deploying self-service portals and other digital engagement tools as an intrinsic part of your overall customer engagement strategy.

The role of technology to help support customer service has never been more important, a recent Harvard Business review study during the early days of pandemic and found a massive increase in customer demand and the number of “difficult” calls doubled from 10% to 20% whilst hold times ballooned 34%. This impacted agent’s ability to cross-sell or upsell and even to retain customers.

My belief is that you now is the time to start to embrace a key part of what is often called Omni-channel. This really just means that your customers are able to contact you across a variety of different channels from phone and email through new channels such as portals, webchat, Bots, SMS (text) and of course social media such as Twitter and Facebook. A key starting point or first step in moving to this more “Omni” or “Multiple” channel approach is in my view through the adoption of self-service portals.

Self Service Portals

According to recent Salesforce report*, Customer portals are the 4th most used channel after in-person, phone, email for customer service.

The rationale for any client portal is the ability for your clients or Users to self-serve and for them to either easily find or add information to your CRM system. Typically, the most used example is for customer service with a client adding or logging their own case or searching a knowledgebase.

Example Use cases

As an example, in 2007/2008, we were deploying the SAGE CRM Self Service portal, since this was one of the few CRM vendors which had its own built-in Self Service module at the time and which was very configurable.

We had a client servicing cameras at railway stations and their own client could log a case at any time 24 x 7 x 365 via the web portal. Once the case was logged, then a series of escalation rules relayed this via SMS text and email messages to on-call engineers and also up the chain of command eventually to the Managing Director on a complex SLA depending on the nature of the camera/number of cameras effected to ensure an engineer was dispatched and the issue fixed. This fix was then updated from site via a mobile phone app. At the time this use of a standard mobile was way ahead, but today using something like Power Apps on a smart phone this would be so much easier to accomplish, back then it needed some coding. Once proven, this effectively saved a whole night shift of someone just on stand-by awaiting a call or email. The client then had resolution statistics available next day, but importantly customer service massively improved since so much was automated and the ROI was less than 4 months!

Another use case was myself for using a self service knowledgebase. In 2009 a client’s on-premise CRM hit a problem on Boxing Day and I was on call. I resolved this case simply by looking at the internal knowledgebase in less than 10 minutes and that included starting the laptop and sending the details across to the client!

Portals Features

This examples above are classic self-service support use cases driving portal adoption. For Customer Service there are usually at least two core requirements:

• Users ability to raise and see status of a case. This enables Users to describe and raise a case 24*7 adding all relevant information such as screenshots in an IT example or even photos nowadays.

• Knowledgebase article library. Enabling your end users to find information and resolve their own problem before requiring help from an agent.

According to Microsoft’s Report “Global State of Customer Service”, in UK, 90% of customers now expect there to be a self-service function which is actually higher than the US at 85%!

Deployment Considerations

So what do you need to consider and how easy is it to deploy a portal? In my view a portal needs to be:

• Easy to use to create cases/tickets

• Easy to navigate

• Include some simple automation (e.g. acknowledgment of case raised, status change)

• Populated with well written knowledgebase articles (which are up to date)

• Easy to find information already submitted (e.g. to add or see progress on your case)

• Integrated into your website (e.g. a Login icon somewhere)

• Piloted or trialled with a few selected clients

Prior to deployment of a portal, it can be useful to do a quick survey to make sure your own clients actually want and will use this channel. You can then to further reinforce this engagement include some clients in your testing to get buy-in at an early stage and provide some useful stats and references.

After mapping out your detailed functional requirements, don’t forget that a Portal UX (User experience) and its design can be a critical factor in adoption according to the same report “Self-service”.

In addition, the success or failure of a self-service knowledgebase rests heavily on the relevancy and accuracy of the topics and articles, and the ability of Users to quickly access this information. If the information is difficult to access or is infrequently updated or not well written, then the knowledgebase can quickly turn into a liability.

The ROI Case

Setting up a self-service portal Return on Investment (ROI) business case can actually be surprisingly easy to make and build. So, here are some recent stats from a study by Metronet:

• Average cost of service raising a IT ticket (2017) was around $22,

• For a self-service ticket this was around $2, or just 10%.

• If this case was escalated to say desktop, then price increased to $70.

However, in deflecting away the lower value or easy to resolve items you are enabling your support desk to focus on resolving the more complex cases and possibly being able to uncover new opportunities for the Sales Team to up-sell or cross-sell.

Another key point made in the study above is that Users should be able to resolve their issue in less than 10 minutes. In my experience over last 10 years, the time taken to document a case, ask some simple questions alone can be 5-10 minutes, so having this task completed online by Users helps to reduce time spent on the call, but also helps to increase first time resolution time since Users tend to diligently follow on-screen instructions and provide more information compared to a quick email/call to the Helpdesk to ‘just fix this issue.’

With no apologies for mentioning this again, don’t underestimate the importance of website portal design. At Dogma, we are in the enviable position for a technology consultancy of having as part of the group, Sirius Apps, a company focused on and staffed with designers and UX consultants used to creating mobile apps and websites. Having an internal group of website designers, familiar and used to working with CRM can speed up project delivery and communications.

This was something in the past both myself and I know other consultancies struggled with, having to use either a client’s own website designers, who were not always fully engaged, or instead find a reliable freelancer since CRM consultancies don’t on the whole employ full time website designers.

What to do next?

You need to have a reasonable volume of cases/tickets and to be able to gather a few statistics. First, if you are not already doing so, track some metrics in your CRM over a week or better still a month, so you have a short time frame to focus. My thoughts are you should include:

• Number of cases, by type and agent

• Review any recurring themes

• Measure resolution times, again by type and agent

• Track if you can, time spent on the case, ideally at each stage (e.g. case creation, investigation, resolution), ideally by agent if this is possible

• Agent level. Know your costs here.

You should be able to build a picture of costs per case resolved, by level of agent and by type of case Do some analysis, for example would any of the themes be suitable for your Knowledgebase articles? Are the problems and resolutions of these themes or article easy to describe and is the resolution easy to follow, as simple as 1, 2, 3?

Clearly, your method of capturing data should be realistic, but the prime intention here is to give you some sort of benchmark. This can then help to structure the business case. And it may even be that a self-service portal is not right for you at the moment. If not then revisit these metrics in six months.

And finally

A key aspect of customer service in 2020 for clients is their ability to get a first time fix or resolution. Self-service portals are able to contribute to this as well as having the ability to deflect pressure off the Support team enabling them to focus higher value or more difficult cases. With more time to possibly spend on these more complex cases, then your customer service agents have an opportunity to uncover potential up-sell or cross-sell opportunities as well and become more revenue generating.

Giving your clients more channel options to get in contact with you and engage is seen as the key to Omni-channel success. The challenge for many businesses is in deciding how you want to develop your engagement and how to build a plan that enables you to move your customer engagement to next level. Implementing a self-service portal can be an effective and efficient first step on the ‘Road to Omni-channel digital engagement’ and if done right will improve both your client’s perception of your business as well as enhancing your overall customer service operation and effectiveness.


26th November 2020

Kanban in CRM


Kanban is nowadays a well-known concept, originally developed by the Japanese in the 1950’s for moving items in manufacturing through a series of stages or process steps, but having complete visibility of what items were needed in each stage. The key was and is visibility.

Kanban literally means signboard or billboard in Japanese. In the West, this concept was widely adopted in Europe during the 1970’s and 1980’s by many manufacturers.

This Kanban concept has in the last few years been widely adopted by Customer Relationship Management applications, particularly for sales Opportunity Management, but also elsewhere including Project management.


Kanban’s biggest benefit is it provides a clear visual presentation of what “stage” of your opportunity process you are and so this concept has been applied by a number of vendors with the first software application vendor using this I came across being Pipeliner CRM, which used this view as key differentiator to highlight their very visual representation of data and this was back in 2014.

For CRM apps, the most common use of Kanban visualisation is still in helping to manage Sales Opportunities (although it is widely used for Cases and Activities) but my focus in this post is purely on managing the Sales Pipeline. In hindsight, a weakness of many CRM systems at that time was that to view your opportunities you really could only do this in two ways:

• Clicking into the Company/Account and Opportunity record itself to see the active stage


• Looking at a long list of the opportunities, possibly sorted or filtered by their stages but still only in a grid format

Of course, you could usually extract and manipulate data to present information differently, but again this was not so easy with the reporting tools of the time, such as the current in-app reporting or even using Crystal Reports, the reporting formats and visuals were limited compared to nowadays with say Power BI reports.

The Kanban view as advocated by Pipeliner CRM back in 2014 meant you had a clear view of all the opportunities in terms of these being able to be grouped visually by their stage and more importantly you could easily ‘drag and drop’ any onto the next stage on the screen. This visual view focussed the mind on how many opportunities were at each stage, whilst adding another filter say by close by date for your next target period could also be used. Later, this was the refined to show your average time in each stage, drop-off ratio and other metrics such as showing your sales velocity (I have covered in a previous post Sales Velocity).

For Sales Reps and Sales Management, knowing where your opportunities are in your sales process and at what stage is critical as many sales people will have 30, 40, 50 or even more opportunities open at any one time to manage and prioritise.

Other vendors took note and whilst I may be wrong which CRM first introduced this*, it wasn’t long before this was being widely introduced.

So why is this Kanban view so useful?

In my view, using Kanban for managing your opportunities offers the following five key benefits:

Visual: The clear, often colourful visual representation of opportunities is easy to absorb compared to the traditional standard List view. You can see the number of opportunities in each sales stage instantly.

Understanding: Reps can instantly understand that all things being equal, they need a balanced pipeline, more at the front of their funnel and so there is likely to be less at the end stages. In addition, it can become quickly apparent which opportunities may be ‘sticking‘ at a stage for example.

Filter capability: In most systems, it is easy to filter say by close by date or other criteria, such as value, again helping Reps to decide on which sales to focus on say this month, this quarter etc.

Drag and Drop. It is easy to update and ‘drag and drop’ selected opportunities into the next stage or even back a stage ensuring for Management a more up to date and possibly more accurate and realistic sales pipeline.

Reporting and Coaching: Sales Management like this view since it can make it easier to see where opportunities may be sticking or needing to be moved along and they can feed this back to a Rep as well since this can be easily communicated in any coaching or review meeting.

There are other reasons, including often the ability to review your Sales Velocity by seeing how many days an opportunity is in a stage against your average for that stage for example, but I covered this concept in my detail in a post a while ago (link), still these are my top 5 benefits.

Kanban Adoption by major Vendors

Talking of the Top 5, let’s review the progress of this adoption amongst my Big Five CRM sales team focused applications:

Dynamics 365

Kanban has been introduced as part of the new Unified Client interface in 2019 for new clients, whilst existing clients are able to use this as soon as they upgrade to this new ‘look and feel’, although this will be applied globally from 1st December. In my view, this is one of the major reasons for adopting this new interface, not least that it is more attractive and easier to work with.

Users can now pin to show the current opportunities key fields and change this as for a quick review as well.


Kanban has been around to my understanding now for over five years, since the introduction of the “Lightning” interface which modernised the look and feel from the traditional “Classic” view which had been around for a number of years. Only available in this new release, the Kanban view was originally known as the “Opportunity Board” before being renamed in Spring’16 release. By now, almost all clients, certainly in the SMB sector will be on this interface, first launched in 2015.

For their Summer’ 20 update Salesforce have announced they will be adding to this so Reps can edit a record’s key fields inline, without leaving their Kanban view. Also, as with Dynamics 365, you will be able to open and close the details panel by clicking without opening full record to show key fields for faster on-the-go update whilst still staying in Kanban context


Primarily a marketing automation provider and market leader in this segment, the company has expanded its offering over the last five years as well and recent reports suggest large numbers of new users for its core CRM have been added over the last few years. As part of this CRM core platform expansion, within the Opportunities or ‘Deals’ view, again Kanban is offered as standard.

Pipeliner CRM

Since I first came across the software in 2014, what struck me was its visual focus aimed at the sales team and this is still the apps core niche today. With added functionality and filtering on sales velocity for example, they have now added a Bubble chart view as well, showing opportunities filtered by stage across a timeline of months, quarters etc which is a new and innovative visual presentation of Kanban.


Originally open source and this was widely adopted from around 2009 onwards by SME’s although not something I encounter as much anymore in talking to clients and prospects, again Zoho has adopted the Kanban in its opportunities or ‘Potentials-Opps’ view.


Kanban from the main CRM vendors continues to be developed with additional functionality making this easier for your Users to find, filter and to clearly see their opportunities and more importantly encourage them to take action. The Vendors continue to evolve and improve what is possible to be shown and worked on in their various Kanban-type views, but at heart, the concept remains the same as does the goal of clearly representing key information, so 40 years after it first was adopted, Kanban is very much here to stay in the world of CRM.

*A Note on Dates. Often, the dates of Kanban introduction are based on my own first encounter with functionality by app

31st August 2020

How the CRM vendors are helping in this pandemic


At the risk of over saturating everyone with news of the COVID-19 virus, I thought it would be very useful to outline what some of the top CRM vendors are doing to help in these strange times.

My thought is that if ever there was a good time to move from your old on-premise CRM system, if you still have it, then this is it!

With everyone now having to work from home on their or a company laptop, Tablets and smart mobiles, this is where cloud based CRM is really coming into its own and I wanted to see how the software leading vendors are making it easier to migrate with possible roll-out offers and packages.

Furlough Impact

With Covid-19 and many staff going into furlough, then they are not able to work, having a single cloud view of the customer is now more important than ever as those colleagues helping out will be expected by clients, to know their account and their business, so having an up to date CRM has never been so important for businesses.

Trends since 2010

Whilst this is not the time to dwell on this, recent stats have shown us that in the space of 10 years, we have moved from 20% cloud based CRM in 2010 to a staggering 87% of all CRM being cloud hosted in 2018. However, this still means that possibly 1 in 5 companies have a legacy on-premise CRM which may not be cloud facing, possibly more in UK as this was a US based source.

So, back to the question, how many of the key cloud vendors are recognising this and putting into place some offerings to take advantage of.

This post is based on what I listed as my Big Five in a post from a few years ago (time for an update?)

Let’s look at the key platforms first.

The “Big Beast” CRM Platforms

These are the major cloud based CRM vendors in the UK identified in my post, offering a wide range of modules from Sales, Customer Service and Marketing to full E-commerce and Customer portals on the same platform.

You just need to choose and add the module that will best fits your business. The real beauty of course is everything is integrated, so choose the application modules you want to start off with and then add as you require. A big change in functionality really since my last post has been the advance and integration of AI or Machine Learning into many of these applications, but that is a theme for another day.

Each of the platforms have their own eco-systems of tactical applications to meet particular requirements, for example e-signature.

So now let us have a quick overview and for each application and in each I will highlight if and what their Covid-19 inspired offer is currently, although this is of course subject to change fast.

Starting with the two leading platforms as identified in my post from 2018 which reading this again it still relevant.

Dynamics 365 platform

With so much money being spent on this application suite by Microsoft in the last few years this has now rapidly expanded to now offer a full CRM/ERP suite. Recently, a branding restructure relabelled the suite into the Dynamics 365 and Power applications, all of course integrated with MS Outlook/Office 365, so you now have the following applications available on a CSP or monthly invoicing option. Core modules for readers of this post would possibly include:

• Sales

• Customer Services

• Marketing

• Portal for communities and self service

• Finance via Business Central

• Power BI –for reporting

With the new UCI (Unified Client Interface), the look and feel is the same on all devices (desktop, Tablet and Mobile) making this easier to adopt if you are used to O365. In addition, LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 as well as a point of interest.

Whilst, not of course CRM, with so many modules, the Dynamics Business Central is the finance module for small to mid-sized companies and if your finance team are still on legacy desktop or server based system this is well worth a look.

Covid-19 Offering: Some add-on capabilities, for example Remote Assist for field based technicains is being offered free for 6 months to client with Customer Service module. This module is also available for certain sectors as well, e.g. HealthCare, Charity. For the day to day headline module pricing, no change.

Note: If you are on the Dynamics platform and are using the CSP (Cloud Service Provider) offer enabling you to pay monthly, don’t forget that if you have people on Furlough then you could move those affected with say Full licences into Team (at c.10% of licence cost) licences or remove and reactivate these licences later. Check with your CSP provider on your options here.

Salesforce platform

Salesforce has been the leading proponent of cloud CRM since 1999 so were early advocates, now of course known as one of the leading CRM platforms. This platform continues to grow and has made major acquisitions in the last few years. Core modules for this post audience are likely to be:

• Sales

• Customer Services

• Marketing.

• Communities (Portals and self service)

• Ecommerce

• Tableau for reporting as well as Power BI (with standard connector to Salesforce)

In addition, for existing customers, they are some add on modules which are free to use, helping to support co-workers internally. There are also Trailhead e-learning modules specially to support this.

Covid-19 Offering: Offering small businesses a pack of information, including an extended, 3 month trial sign-up to Salesforce Essentials package.


Another consideration for smaller companies on restricted budgets may also be this product which has a wide suite of add-on modules, but is not as well-known. Certainly over the last few years, my personal experience has shown that this tends to be for smaller organisation since I have not come across this much in the mid-sized market as frequently as say just 5 years ago. Module of interest are likely to be:-

• Sales

• Customer Service

• Marketing

• Omni-channel or Self Service

Again a wide variety of add-on and eco-system of associated apps

Covid-19 Offering: Current offer is for up to 3 users FOC plus a new low priced simple solution, called Bigin for those moving away from Spread-sheets.

In fact, as I pointed out in a post a year or so ago, the last five years have seen the Top CRM vendors focusing a lot on improving their eco-system of partner and third party app that can integrate into their system, for example many client have integration now with e-signature and CPQ software apps

Niche Applications

Within this group, are the niche players which whilst they may not offer a full platform approach, but are able to offer strong Sales and Customer service functionality as well as having partnerships with other strategic vendors, for example in Email Marketing Mailchimp.

Pipeliner CRM

Over the last few years, this has steadily expanded and last year, entered the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales systems. So if you are sales specific and keen to focus on this aspect, then this is an easy to use visual CRM with the key features you would expect as well as lot of integration to other applications through its eco-system. There is a nice ability for online and offline capability, useful for field reps with the app. A free 14 day trial is available


Since SAGE withdrew their offering which was pure cloud based back in late 2017, I have excluded this application since this is now only available as a Server based or Server hosted solution, which kind of takes us back to the start. However, SAGE CRM was always cloud facing and accessed via a browser, so as long as your system is maintained if you are on SAGE CRM then this post is unlikely to be relevant. Whilst there is a dedicated Covid-19 hub, this support appears to be mainly focussed around financial implication information and e-learning.


Within recent years, this has expanded from a Marketing Automation vendor into CRM and now offers a full platform approach. Recently launched its own Hubspot CMS as a rival to WordPress dominance and continues to attract new clients in the UK with attractive offers

Covid-19 offering. Has reduced its Starter Suite pricing for new prospect and clients by significant amount for next 12 months. It has also suspended email marketing limits and made an number of add-on features free to trial for 90 days

Setting up the new system

Whilst choosing the next CRM Cloud solution is only one key decision, and of course if you are not sure, then we are able to give you independent of vendor advice on which may be the best-fit solution for your business. That is just the first step. To get the most out of any CRM you will probably need help to configure and train your users.

And amongst the CRM consultancy community we recognise that you may need or want to get some set-up quickly so are able to offer tailored packages to both configure the system and migrate core data from your old system as well as being able to deliver online training and e-learning training for repeat use and reference.


This post is not intended to direct you to one application or the other, after all that was what my Big Five post helped with a few years ago, but if you need help and support choosing a CRM, or just in setting up your chosen CRM, then that is a good time to make contact since it is likely you will have other systems linked or needing to be linked in the future as well as part of your own business application eco-system.

Finally, my apologies if anything is already out of date when this is published, but as you will appreciate, this is a moving target and vendors are adjusting to the changes almost daily it seems since I started to write this.

29th April 2020

Is UAT the secret to CRM Adoption and Engagement Success?


UAT or User Acceptance testing is widely used when introducing new software systems in large and complex ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) projects and in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) projects.

This post reflects on why in my view, particularly in CRM of all IT projects, this can be a crucial if not a critical factor in a projects success and in the subsequent roll-out and engagement of Users. Many authors over the years have noted a high failure rate in CRM projects and again, my view is that inadequate UAT amongst other factors, will often be a root cause, but why is this?

What is it?

First let’s just clarify what UAT is.

User Acceptance Testing is usually towards the end of a project and will pre-date User roll-out and full training delivery depending on your project methodology, for example ‘waterfall’ or agile.

As a general rule, after any configuration or customisation changes to your system and internal supplier testing, time is then allocated to a select number of customer users to test what has been changed in context and ensure that this works or behaves in the manner which is acceptable and meets stated and documented requirements.

Usually scripts or usage cases are already prepared by the client or consultant to test the key usage scenarios effected by the change.

Any deviations are then fed back in some form of log, often called a Findings and Issues list showing items needing to be addressed/discussed by the Project sponsors. These findings may be rated by priority or impact and urgency.

How these are addressed will then be decided. But once these changes are made, these will then be tested again in another round of UAT until passed and accepted.

A simple enough process in theory and practice!

Why do it?

The core reason for UAT is to ensure prior to the new system or changes being handed over, there is a sign-off of the system to ensure it meets client specifications as shown and agreed in any Functional System Design documentation or Blueprint specification. Think of this UAT as the final check-list prior used and walked through when agreeing to accept a new car. In much the same way, often there will be a milestone payment associated with sign-off to focus all minds attention to the detail!

The focus on UAT is on how the system behaves. However, often during this process, a subset of real data may be added as Test Data prior to final migration and this may be tested too, but, I will touch on this aspect again later.

My experience shows that always there will be a Findings and Issues log that comes back from the Customer after their UAT. Often these findings may be minor and easy to fix, but sometimes major changes may be identified. These major changes are of big concern and a plan needs to be agreed and the impact understood in terms of the project plan.

Dangers and Risks

In many projects under tight time deadlines, the risk is this Testing and UAT period can be rushed or too short or that not enough trained personnel or not enough End Users are given the necessary time and tools to test and report thoroughly. How the feedback is documented can also cause an issue.

However, with good Project Management, these Risks should be clearly identified and early on in a RAID Log. This is simply a project planning tool, usually in Excel for identifying key Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies. At start of any project, the Project Manager should identify any events, activities, resources that could impact on the successful completion of the project. This should be a weekly or monthly Update to project sponsors as the project evolves.

What to do what not to do

Any good testing will have a Finding and Issues log from UAT and don’t forget you may have more than one round of UAT. Some suggestions now on what to do and what not to do:

To do

• Selected Users need to undergo some form of system training before they are involved in UAT, so they must understand the system as if they were new Users, not come to this fresh with only limited exposure.

• UAT must be built-in with enough time for testing and a fixing allowance of time before Go-Live. Having it too close to this date runs risk of having to move it out the go live date which will not be welcome and impacts the business and the projects reputation.

• Have good script or usage scenarios available, easy to read and answer. Again, this requires adequate preparation time, don’t leave this to the last minute

Perhaps the most important point, but also one of the hardest to meet is:

• Allow adequate time for fixes. Most of the time, if there is a good cleat blueprint, good project management and enough resource allocation then many issues tended to be minor such as screen form design issues where users may want certain fields moved around or drop downs added too.

Also, it can be useful to split your UAT Testing into two work streams: User UAT and a separate Data Migration UAT team. They may be the same team but ensure different time is allocated or a different room, for instance swapping over. Trying to combine the two may result in missed testing since Data Migration UAT needs careful diligence and is not exciting, so allocate separate time to this. The quality of data can impact the project and I’ve covered this in other posts in the past.

What not to do!

• Don’t rush this process

• Don’t do a last minute allocation of resources with no adequate testing time in their diary

• Don’t forget these User need some Training first

• Try not to have your Testing by different people spread out. Ideally aim to have a minimum time in a “locked room” scenario. So there are no email or other distractions to enable people to focus 100% on their testing. Reflect on how best to achieve this in your project.

• Try not to do fixing “on the fly” before all your first round of testing is completed by all Users. This can just create complications…”Finish the testing, log it, fix it” is a good mantra.

• Don’t skimp on the Findings log detail. Ensure you are providing a good log and detailed description for everyone to be clear on the issue and for other to be able to replicate your findings. This will save time tooing and froing on clarification.

This is a short list, but no doubt experienced practitioners can add to this immensely, but for now let’s focus on the big picture still.

Resource Allocation

Choosing your Project Team and your internal Testing Team should involve a mix of Users and ideally at all levels and all impacted departments. If you can, you want champion End Users and sometimes, whilst it may be tough for ourselves, those Users who are the most vocal and even resistant to change can be your most effective champions if they can be turned around. In my experience oftentimes, they will also appreciate the fact they have been asked to contribute in the first place. More importantly, you want them onside.

As mentioned above, for data migration testing you want people who are very detailed. Data migration issues can really deflate a new project rollout, so attention to detail when reviewing is a vital skill. Hence I think this should be considered a separate work-stream.

A final note here, which is if you are struggling for resources, don’t be afraid to ask others including your consultants for help.

How to recover?

But what happens if for whatever reason UAT has not identified all the key issues. You then either go to User training and find out problems during the training, not the nicest experience for a Trainer or later only after Go Live.

This can still happen. Often the root cause is traceable down in my view down to three core reasons:

• Usage scripts not having right information or enough scenarios or being well written and easy to follow, or no scripts at all!

• Not enough adequate Testing time. Rushing the test time or just not allocating enough time or people not being disciplined to use this time. Again, having a whole dedicated day and ‘locked room’ will help here.

• Right mix or level of Tester. Possibly the Testers were not familiar with all the processes they were testing, it can happen, especially if time or resource is tight.

To recover the answer is pretty simple. You many need lots of bodies and take action early and fast to get back to a recovery position. I’ve said it many times in post before, but I believe the first 90 days after roll-out are critical.

But you need to see the signs, so if your users begin to say things like:

“It takes longer”

and more importantly can prove it, take this as a good sign! It is feedback at least and concern for the business, or:

“I can’t easily find what I need “

This last is often easier to fix, where often it is a question of improving the screen design and layout.

As in all things it, prevention is easier than cure

But act fast and recognise you have a problem and don’t blame the Users.

They are simply trying to do their job. Your job is to listen and validate first, not moan at the Users, whatever they say there will be kernel of truth there, the key is in then finding how big the impact actually is. Ignoring these warning signs will lead to a system with poor User adoption or worse a reluctant adoption and can lead to lost data, wasted time and eventually even employee de-motivation and churn.

Benefits of getting it right

Rather than me, I think, it is worth noting this comment from a leading CRM Project Manager with 20 years’ experience.

“Good UAT and the resultant follow-up and fixing is one of the key ingredients to successful adoption. Avoid ‘rushing’ it, but remember this also needs a strong Project Management focus on both sides here…

Let’s not forget, this process is all to do with User Adoption and User Engagement. And the key to any CRM new project is this User Engagement in my view. This means that not only do your Users embrace the new system and can use it well, but they develop a strong a sense of ownership. Any ideas that come up then will be for positive improvements rather than just negatives.

Failure in that first 30 - 90 days can kill a system and is probably single biggest source of system change and failure in CRM projects.

And finally

So, don’t underestimate power and importance of good UAT.

This post is really all about appreciating just how important this stage can be to your User Adoption and Engagement success.

Don’t rush it!

Ensure as a client you do give this process the necessary resources, ‘time to test’ and allow for ‘time to fix’.

In essence, this all comes back to good project planning and choosing a Partner with the skills and project experience to deliver your CRM Project on time and on-budget.

28th February 2020