CRM – Sold the dream, lived with the agony, but here comes the light
The true story of implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management tool in a web design business and 7 steps to reduce the agony.
“It can do anything!”
“What was your question? Oh yep – definitely can do that, no problem.”
“I’ve been through your list – all achievable. Have I shown you how Massive Company X is doing it? You can be just like them.”
If you’re looking for a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool, then you might have had these discussions with the various products’ sales staff.
When we bought our product we knew what we wanted.
The system had to be:
- Flexible (multiple users, different permission levels…)
- Mobile (accessed from anywhere in the world via the web)
- Customisable (could be tweaked to match the way we do business)
- Scalable (if we went from 10 – 100 staff, we wouldn’t need to change systems)
No doubt about it. The system we bought can do all of the above and a whole lot more that we will never need to use. About the only thing it doesn’t do is make my coffee – but we’re working on a plug-in for that.
Our massive mistake: We thought we were buying a set of systems.
The reality: We were buying a platform on which to implement our systems.
There is no doubt, that the tools available to small and medium businesses are incredible.
What the sales people don’t tell you is that if your systems are junk, the platform won’t solve those problems. The basic premise of a database still holds:
Junk in = Junk out
Poor data = useless reports
No systems to start with = an online business management tool that cannot succeed!!!
So what have we done?
Since we first set up the CRM/ERP, we’ve gone back to our systems and refined, refined, refined. We started from scratch in a lot of places and only now that they have been tested, we’re moving them into our management tool.
Just recently we re-engineered our sales process to ensure we were getting the reports we needed to track our pipeline, incentivise our staff, and ensure that no opportunity for business, slips through the cracks.
So my 7 tips (and make sure you do these in order):
- Set your company goals
- Determine how you will measure the goals
- Define the reports you want to generate based on this measurement – this will inform everything you do.
- Define exactly what data you’ll need to input to generate the reports
- Map the process and assign the reports and the data inputs to each step of the process
- Decide who in your company will take responsibility for each of the steps
- Then choose a system to match your requirements
My final piece of advice:
DO NOT WAIT FOR YOUR SYSTEMS TO BE PERFECT BEFORE YOU CHOOSE A PLATFORM!
The beauty and strength of the platforms now available (eg Salesforce.com, Netsuite) are that they can be customised and tweaked constantly to improve reporting, increase efficiency and overall increase usefulness for the business.
I believe in the dream, but I am a realist when it comes to the process to get there. It takes time and effort, but now we look at our system and it is getting better and better, delivering timely and relevant business critical information on a daily basis.
CRM Brisbane: for advice on business processes & CRM implementation call Bluewire Media on 1300 258 394.