What and when to automate and when to intervene is one of the most far reaching decisions you will make on the journey to a clean CRM. In fact, this automation vs. intervention decision quandary will impact all processes in your business. Instead of an in-depth how-to-clean your CRM tutorial, I thought I’d share some simple axioms that I base my decisions on when bringing efficiency and automation to a process.
#1 Don’t confuse automation with efficiency
Efficiency is how fast and how cheap a process can be done. Automation is applying non-human processes into a system. It is a subtle difference and that is why people get confused. For example: lead assignment can be automated, but if it is being done poorly or incorrect, it is not efficient. This is a natural lead in to #2.
#2. Never automate an unsuccessful process.
People can make mistakes, but to really screw up you need a computer. Make sure your processes work correctly, regardless of how fast. Once you have your process down, then apply automation.
#3. Automate a single process at a time.
There are exceptions and sometimes you can’t avoid doing a few things at once. The reason for this is immutably tied to #4.
#4. Measure what you automate.
Define what success is so that you can recognize it when it happens. When successful, automate something else and measure again.
#5 Complex systems are constantly redesigned
No one that I know can design a complex CRM system that stays 100% to the original design. Why do major software implementations fail and go over budget? Simple, the initial design did not encompass the complexities of the real world. Balance design with diving in and checking your premises. Be agile, be creative and get user feedback at critical milestones.
Why can’t my CRM vendor keep my data clean?
Nearly every CRM company and internal corporate IT department has taken a stab at solving the problem of keeping your data clean. You may have heard of it referred to as CRM Deduping, CRM Dedupe, CRM Deduplication as well as Data normalization.
Unfortunately, no one has done it right! Not Oracle, not Salesforce.com, not Microsoft and not SAP. Why?
Think about it: Who decides the standard? Do you want saleforce.com or Microsoft dicatating the format for data storage that you use? Of coarse not, every business model has unique needs. While one business may prefer storing “The Container Company” another may prefer “Container Company, The”. It would be suicide for a vendor to enforce a single set of rules on all their clients. So the problem is not necessarily ignored, but it is accepted as status quo.
Why didn’t my CRM sales rep tell me this?
Since the issue is accepted as status quo for the industry, it is simply not addressed. Sales reps are not in the habit of pointing out a problem that they do not have a solution for. If the issue is addressed, typically it is periodical crm deduplication process.
CRM Dedupe only treats the symptom
If you think of CRM duplicates as the symptom of a disease, how do you cure the disease vs. treating the symptom? The answer is to never allow duplicates into your CRM system in the first place. The first start in that process is developing a CRM Data Plan.
CRM Deduplication services are a profit center
Your dirty data is another company’s profit center. Many of the major CRM providers have professional services that you can pay to periodically clean your CRM. While these services typically do a great job, they do not solve the issues with inefficiency and lost revenue *between* the data cleansing cycles. Basically, every time you fix your CRM, the cure is short-lived.
Why didn’t I see this coming?
Don’t be hard on yourself. Think about it. When you buy a CRM, it is usually empty. If you import dirty data from an old CRM, the new CRM will be dirty. The problem is not the result of you forgetting to turn on a feature in the new CRM. Massive duplicates and miskeyed data does not become a problem until after you start to use the CRM. When a CRM is implemented, it is typically at that time the buyer realizes there is a huge problem with the information.
Without a systematic way to start with and keep information clean, duplicates will be introduced into your CRM. Good for professional service firms; Bad for you and your CRM. The best solution is not treating a symptom, but curing the disease. The first step to curing the disease is creating a CRM Data Plan… which will be the next blog post.
Next post:What is a CRM Data Plan