Data Management Central: Is your CRM system an integrated part of your team?

4 May 2021

When implemented correctly, your CRM system becomes almost another member of your team. One who is entirely dedicated to data management and keeping the rest of your team on track.  

Honestly, between the information storage, calendar and task management, and automation of mundane tasks. It’s the best way to think about your CRM system.

And just like any other member of your team, there’s going to be the interview process, a period of onboarding, and regular personal and skills development.

Onboarding? Skills development? It’s a computer program, not a person!

I know it sounds a bit strange, but trust me on this.

I’ll start with the onboarding process, i.e. when you bring a new person into your team. They need to quickly learn anything and everything about how your business operates. That’s everything from the words you use to the products you sell and the processes you follow.

A CRM system has to be configured to do the same thing. Adding custom fields and templates to use your terminology and reflect your branding. Setting up automation to pick up the boring parts of your processes. And all the rest of it.

This implementation phase is vital to get right or otherwise your CRM won’t fit in with the rest of your business. And then no one will use it.

What about the personal and skills development? Well, your business will change and grow over time. Your CRM system will need to evolve and adapt to fit in with these changes. The same way your employees do.

For example, if you decide to branch out into a new area of your industry, your sales team will need to learn the new terminology and how to sell these products. And your engineers will need to learn how to install them.

Similarly, your CRM system will need these new products and processes to support both teams. And that’s not just about the odd bit of customisation carried out after the fact. It’s about having a good strategy for the management of your CRM and customer data.

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Building your CRM and Data Strategy

It’s good practice to have a document that details how your business processes and manages personal data. (GDPR is here to stay.) And it’s inevitable that your CRM system will play a fairly large, if not the starring, role in that.

It’s also good practice to regularly review these types of documents and plans. How else can you make sure they are always up to date?

I’m suggesting you go one step further. Have a document (or guide) on how your team carries out all of their processes, where the records of this are stored (CRM), and what your customers see of this.

We started doing this many years ago and it’s not only great for onboarding our own new members of staff, but also an incredibly valuable resource in more general terms.

Here at Open CRM, we regularly review our processes using these resources to ensure everyone is sticking to them, that they are working as well as they could, and look for ways to improve them.

Reviewing our departmental processes, CRM usage, and data management strategy consists of three parts:

  1. Diagnosing what is and isn’t working
  2. Implementing changes to address problem areas
  3. Reviewing performance and reflecting on changes

Diagnose: What parts of your CRM and data management strategy aren’t working?

Are you finding a lot of duplicates?  Is there a point in the process where tasks are being missed off? Are there any manual jobs your team are doing that could be automated? Do your team have complaints about the process or system?

These kinds of issues and questions are signs that you need to make changes to your CRM. And your data management processes.

Now, you can have set meetings to discuss and diagnose these, but who honestly has the time for that? It’s better if you make these kinds of questions part of your regular departmental meetings.

For example, we were having issues with a certain task being completed that fell right at the end of the sales process. So we implemented some workflow to create a reminder for the team to complete it. We then included a graph related to all of these tasks into the dashboards we use for our sales meetings.

This way, while the team are talking about targets and lead generation, we can also talk about how new customer handoffs to the projects team are going. And you know what?  It worked, the tasks get done and no one ever (well, hardly ever) gets named and shamed.

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Make Changes: Implement new processes (and tools) to address

From the example above, you can see how implementing a relatively small change can have a tangible benefit to your company. We went from regularly missing out some vital information to relying on this data every single day.

The important thing with making changes to your processes, CRM, and/or data management is communication.

Everyone needs to know what changes are being made, why these changes are necessary, and how they can provide feedback on how well they are working.

Documenting these changes into your overall process guide can help with this. But it really comes down to good old fashion conversations where people can make suggestions and ask questions.

When people feel like they are part of the process and have some ownership of it, they are far more likely to adopt these new changes.

Reflect and Review: Are these new data management processes and tools working for you?

Finally, once you’ve implemented the changes, you need to find out if they’ve worked. Listen to the feedback of your team and keep up with discussions around your process and data management strategy in team meetings.

Going back to the example I shared above. Just because we find that the sales team are completing these tasks doesn’t mean we stop discussing the importance of them. We recently added a few more tasks and actions to the workflow. Because we recognised that this stage of the customer journey was important to departments outside of sales and  projects.

Those changes are still in this review stage, but I’ve got to say, it’s looking positive.

Ashley Tallyn
Ashley Tallyn
Although I originally hail from northern California, as soon as I arrived in Yorkshire I knew it was the place for me! At OpenCRM, I started out in the Business Development team, and then moved into compliance and Q&A because I love telling people what to do...ok, that's not the real reason, but it makes for a good bio one-liner. When I’m not in the office, you can usually find me tramping through the dales, crafting, gardening, or with my nose in a book.