Monday, April 11, 2016

The CRM Foundation

Once you have a concrete strategy and have formed a plan, you need to build a solid foundation for long term CRM success. Doing this type of ‘groundwork’ will ensure that your CRM implementation and structure will stand the test of time.

During your CRM assessment you should have identified the core needs that the CRM can help to fill and problems it can help to solve — the concrete system value (aka, what’s in it for them). That value should form the cornerstone of everything you do moving forward to a build a solid base of support from your stakeholders and users.

Communications should reinforce this value. Training and materials should be formed around it. Metrics should track key elements of it. Successes should build upon it. Ultimately, if you don't focus on your foundation and strengthen your base early in your CRM building project, your project could stall or your implementation might even collapse in the future. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Choosing Your CRM Builder

Selecting the right team to build your house is essential. We’ve all heard horror stories about dealing with bad contractors. Without the right building partner, you are likely to get a house that takes longer and costs more than you imagined. You can even end up with a house that doesn't “meet code,” forcing you to redo some of the work or, even worse, find another contractor and rebuild from the ground up.

With CRM, this is even more important because you don't often get a “do-over.” Once users are frustrated with system functionality or data, you often lose credibility – and adoption. For firms that fail to find the right provider, it’s not uncommon to see multiple attempts to rollout the same CRM. Some firms have even found that their implementation doesn't “pass inspection” and they end up abandoning their CRM building projects or are forced to begin the entire process over again with another system provider. Don't let this happen to you.

Purchasing a CRM system involves a significant investment of time, money and effort, so you need to make sure that you find the right provider to build out and configure your system. You want someone with expertise and a company with a reputation for ongoing service and support. Such requirements will ensure that you build on a solid foundation, which will support you and your firm for years to come.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Blueprint for CRM Success

CRM success starts with a plan. Once you have invested the time to articulate the initial ideas for your new CRM home and have shared your thoughts with your CRM architect and key stakeholders in the organization, it’s essential to put your plans on paper.

Your CRM consultant or architect can assist you in formulating a strategy and drawing up comprehensive CRM “blueprints” to help capture all the essential elements of the project. This “blueprint” for CRM success should address all of the details to successfully execute your building plan and should assist you in understanding the scope of your project.

Your CRM blueprint can really help to visualize, and ultimately achieve, project success. At its most basic, the blueprint can be a list of CRM requirements that should be regularly reviewed during the CRM project to ensure that no step is missed.

For more extensive projects, some organizations will want to draft a formal RFP document which can then be submitted to a number of skilled builders who can respond with ideas and quotes for the project.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The CRM Architect

Because building a home - and configuring a new CRM system - are complex projects, for both, it typically makes sense to bring in an expert to help plan the project. Just as it makes sense to hire a skilled architect to create the blueprint for your new home, for a CRM project, it can be helpful to enlist the services of an experienced CRM consultant.

The ideal CRM “architect” should have significant expertise, of course, and will likely be able to share references from other happy clients whose perfect CRM homes he or she has helped design. Most importantly, though, you should feel that this person is invested in your CRM success. Before beginning to draw up any plans, the CRM architect should spend plenty of time getting to know you. Interviews should be conducted with key firm stakeholders in order to help define project success.

Once your CRM architect understands your needs and requirements, he or she should be able to talk through the options. The architect should also help you to understand both the costs and benefits associated with the options, as well as features and functions in order to help you choose the functionality that will address your needs effectively and efficiently. Finally, your CRM architect should be able to introduce you to a variety of potential system “builders” and help you evaluate them so that you can find the right provider to construct the perfect CRM home for your firm.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

CRM Building Project – Part 2: Teardowns

Many of the firms we work with have had their CRM systems for years or even a decade or more. They can likely still remember their original “move-in” day when they first bought the system (which hopefully didn’t require a mortgage) and migrated all their information in. At that point, their CRM system felt like the perfect place.

But sometimes a firm begins to get “growing pains.” Over time, these firms may have acquired a lot more “stuff” and may feel like they are outgrowing their CRM home. As a firm “family” grows, acquiring new offices and attorneys, the number of contacts often grows exponentially. If “spring cleaning” projects are not attended to regularly, data can become outdated. As marketing and business development projects increase, the number of e-mail campaign and event lists multiply. The next thing you know, a firm may suddenly feel like they need to make some home improvements. They may start to consider a renovation, an integration – or even a complete remodel. At this point, it’s important to stop and consider whether it really make sense to demolish everything and start over … (and yes, these are the actual before and after pictures of my house of 14 years being flattened.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

CRM Building Project – Part 1: New Construction

So for some reason, one day about a year and a half ago I decided that it would be a good idea to build a house. Not sure exactly why I thought adding this to my never-ending list of existing projects would be a smart thing to do (OK, perhaps my friends weren’t entirely wrong when they suggested that I was a bit of a type-A) but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Imagine the idea of having your dream house – designed exactly to your specifications. I’d finally get to have all the things I wished my current house had: more space, a garage, a guest room for friends or colleagues to use when they came to town, a modern kitchen, a fireplace and a roof-top deck.

But, of course, I didn’t decide to just build a new house. No, I decided to tear down the existing house (yep, that’s it there in the picture) I have lived in for almost 15 years and build my new house on the existing lot. Again, not sure what I was thinking. I obviously didn’t contemplate the fact that this would mean moving twice, but that’s a story for another post. Anyway, the good news is that my house building project has inspired me to think about how building a house is a lot like building CRM…

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Data Quality Do’s and Don’ts – Part 6: The CRM Wreck

Having worked with almost a hundred firms to help them achieve and enhance CRM success over the last 8 years, the biggest challenge we always seem to run into is CRM adoption. Firms consistently tell us that their CRM system is literally a ‘wreck’ due, in large part, to poor participation.

These firms frequently say that in the beginning of the CRM deployment, everything seemed to be running fine. They purchased the right system and implemented it without a hitch. The system was firing on all cylinders, but then at some point they seemed to hit a wall with adoption.

Down the road, this seems to become an issue for almost every firm. In fact, we ran into this exact scenario just last week. After investing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time into their CRM implementation, the firm just can't get the partners to take the wheel. 

While it can be tempting for some rubberneckers to simply do a drive-by and observe this type of CRM car-nage, we think it’s more helpful to put on the brakes and actually analyze a CRM crash to help a firm shift gears and accelerate change…