7 Things to Consider When Bringing Data into CRM

One of the biggest selling points of CRM is the ability to create a single view of the customer, data is key to making this happen. This blog covers things that you should consider during and after your implementation.

It’s probably not a good idea to simply move all data from one system into CRM without understanding what you need. For one thing, moving the data from one place to another could prove expensive.

Data is something that should be thought about during the whole process of delivering a CRM system. The questions below, along with your process-mapping and specification phases, will help you on the journey.

  1. Does it need a scrub? It’s unlikely that the data you move is going to perfect so what’s the best way to cleanse it before you use it?
  2. Should it be access all areas? Should all users see the data or are there occasions when it should be locked down?
  3. Where should it be held? Should it all be put into CRM or just certain information or will a view of the data (held in another systems/data warehouse) be good enough?
  4. Does it need to be in CRM to fulfil any reporting requirements?
  5. How often should it be updated? If data is held elsewhere how often should CRM be updated, some data needs to be updated live e.g. contact information such as telephone numbers, email addresses while other information can come in overnight.
  6. What should you do with data at go live? From day one, you may need data from your old system as well as CRM. You need to decide whether to manage it in the old system until they reach the end of a process or move it straight into your new CRM system and finish the process there.
  7. How long should you keep it? Do you really need CRM data for 10 years? It’s worthwhile putting retention rules in place as early as possible. Too much data can affect system performance and is generally useless to users and those reporting on it. Some of this will be a judgement call, in other situations there could be legal or sector reasons for holding on to the data. Whatever you decide you must work within the law.

There are lots of ways to manage the data you have in CRM from creating views/iframes using out of the box functionality to importing it directly into the system. If you know what data you want (and looking to move online) then  Scott Durows video on the data export service might be for you.


9 Things To Consider When Creating a CRM Specification (spec)

Now you’ve got a handful of processes, owned by a key team, you’re in a good position to start writing the spec. In this blog I’ll cover 9 things you should consider.

A good spec. lets suppliers and colleagues know exactly what the new system will look and feel like. It also helps the testing and roll- out phase of the project. You can use it to create test scripts and identify any issues.

During my first implementation I knew what we needed but didn’t have a clear idea of how I would put this on paper. The key thing here is to work with suppliers and colleagues in the business to come up with a document you all understand. Add as much detail as possible, consider legacy data and other systems so you end up with a great first run at it.

Before you get to the nine items I’ve added a few other things to consider as you walk through the spec. You can tailor each one to your needs, level of integration and what you’d like to achieve. But they should help you get off the ground.

Are you looking to build a new entity or adapt a current one?

See what you can use ‘out of the box’. Bespoke CRM systems are difficult to maintain and can make upgrading slightly more difficult. However, sometimes it needs to be done to get the process, security, or outcome you need.

A new entity

Will this sit in the sales arena or is it more service? Would you go to a person record to access your new entity or is it attached to an organisation?

Amending a current entity

This can make life easier because you’ll know how that entity should react and what it’s capable of doing. Be careful not to be too reliant on a single entity. Overloading them with fields, workflows, views, or scripts can affect system performance. There are several functions available to get the outcome you need without the cost and time of developing.

Here are the 9 things to consider when putting you together the spec:

  1. The fields users need;
  • What type of field (text, numerical, picklist etc.)?
  • What information will be held in them?
  • Should they be a certain format (e.g. you don’t want users entering 2 numbers into a mobile phone number field)

I prefer to use picklists (option sets); they keep data clean and users can quickly become confident. Use your process maps to choose the fields you’ll need and what information to store in them. I try to avoid free text fields; they can be tricky to report on and the text in them can be open to interpretation. Beware…users love them!

You may also want fields to call functions or act differently depending on the information provided. For example, selecting ‘yes’ on a Boolean field may open another section of the form or display another field (attribute)

Use fields sparingly. They can quickly clutter the form and ruin the user experience. Less is more if the product does what you need it to.

  1. Information you’ll report on

What reports will you need? Refer to the key aims of your CRM delivery;

  • Do you need to add certain fields/functions to get the reporting you need?
  • Should fields be populated all the time or only under certain circumstances?

If the information isn’t available, the reports will be weak. This can negatively affect the attitude of senior teams to CRM….and user adoption.

  1. Workflows

Workflows are great. They can be simple (if I’m involved) or complex. They aren’t essential but can make for a richer user experience. For example, a workflow can be triggered to notify other departs if a customer says they’re going to make a payment on a set date. No need to remember the name of all 15 colleagues who need to receive an email; the workflow can send a task to other users, teams or queues. I’d note all the workflows you need. Some can happen when a record’s created or the value of a field changes, the choice is yours. Just make sure you clearly explain what you expect the flow to do.

  1. Data from other systems

Some users may feel every piece of information should be pulled from your legacy system into your shinny new CRM system. Sometimes, they’ll be right. Before you jump in and create masses of integration, it’s worth considering if a view or Iframe is more appropriate. When you spec out a view, you need to identify the data required (down to field level) and where it’s stored. Work with users to understand what they need and when they need it. You also need to know the entity the view should be available on. For example, should it be added to the contact entity to answer more queries first time?

  1. Any JavaScript required?

At a basic level, script can help manage what CRM displays at certain times. It can trigger actions but it’s such a vast subject that I’d suggest further reading to get a better understanding for example “JavaScript: The Definitive Guide” by David Flanagan . Personally, I use limited script. It’s very easy to have a flash CRM user experience but you also have to maintain it. As you make changes to the system, you may have to unpick the script you spent time and money developing. As CRM software develops more out of the box functionality is becoming available to do much of the work currently done by jscript.

  1. Out of the box vs bespoke

Looking back, I knew I wanted to build a CRM solution which met everyone’s needs and was essentially a reflection of the old way of doing things. There are companies who rip everything out of CRM and build from the ground up. If this suits your business, go for it. However, there are numerous out of the box functions you can use from day one without spending £000’s. This issue is compounded when you try to upgrade and need to test all the bespoke functions, entities and scripts. Take some time to reflect on the product and functions which could deliver the processes you mapped at the start of the project. There are plenty of conferences, demos and companies out there who are willing to help and advise.

  1. Managing legacy data

This is another enormous and complicated topic. Work with the team to identify the data they need in CRM. You can limit access to the old data and then remove it completely once you’ve adopted CRM. Add this to a more long-term plan so you don’t have old data hanging around waiting to cause trouble.

  1. Phasing out legacy systems

Identify the impact on any other systems when you change CRM. This may not be an issue day one but, as CRM grows, it will start to integrate with other systems.

Pull everyone in early if you know which systems the project will impact. You won’t know everything (who does?) so invite the teams to offer input and advice as it may affect costs and timescales. Installing CRM may improve other systems but be aware these changes may mean additional users need training.

  1. Security

CRM provides various options when it comes to security. From field level to entity, teams or organisations. This, like most of CRM, will be very specific to the piece of work you’re doing. Although data protection is something you must follow, you don’t want to prevent users from getting access to the information which will make it easy for them to do a great job.

Create a security matrix to understand who should have access to different parts of the system.

The finished specification can look confusing. A simple mock-up of the system can help ‘visual’ learners and encourage the discussion to flow. You don’t need anything complicated; a simple spreadsheet with rough colour schemes and field layouts can help colleagues understand how the product will work.

As the build starts, you’ll understand how the system will be used and the benefits it will bring. Track these and communicate them to all the stakeholders.

If you found this blog useful don’t forget to leave a comment or take a look at the ebook I’ve written to help those non techies about to start their CRM system journey.

7 Key Roles For Your CRM Project Team

startup-photos.jpgYou’ve identified everyone’s needs/wants and the strategy CRM will be driven by…it’s now time to create the dream team! This blog explores the key roles you’ll need to get your system up and running and tips on building your team.

So how do you get the ball rolling? First you’ll need to Identify who needs to be involved and what skills/experience you need at the table. Id suggest these roles as a minimum;

  1. Senior manager/sponsor – Reports back at a strategic level and has overall responsibility for the project.
  2. Project manager – Responsible for delivering the project
  3. People from the team who’ll use CRM – You’ll need them to advise on the process, test the system and train users.
  4. Someone from departments affected by the new way of working
  5. A critical friend – This could be someone not linked with the project but part of the company, someone you met researching CRM or someone who’ll bring some great challenges to the table. Their job is to understand the changes and then identify better ways of working.
  6. Supplier – They’ll provide the support to get you off the ground and guide you through the process. However, it’s the PM’s job to keep the project focused.
  7. IT/Technology – Invite the key people in early; they’ll provide advice and guidance and will be key in the roll out of CRM.

The team should reflect how you’ll deliver CRM. If you’re rolling out a department at a time (something I’d suggest), you need to get people from that team involved. Provide cover for those colleagues so they can focus on the project.

Don’t forget to identify how touch points impact other teams/departments. It’s rare for one team to work in a silo. Consult everyone involved in the process or bring them into the main project team. Include them at go live or in a phase shortly after if they are a big part of what the initial team do. Involving ‘critical friends (colleagues not linked to the delivery of dynamics) will bring other view points and ways of working to the table making your CRM system stronger for it.

Here are a five golden rules for building a great team once you have them in place.

Want to find out how to get the best out of your new team? This bookThe Best Team Wins, The New Science of High Performance’ by Adrian Gostick, Chester Elton  may help, they studied more than 850,000 employee engagement surveys to develop their “Five Disciplines of Team Leaders”, explaining how to recognise and motivate different generations to enhance individual engagement; ways to promote healthy discord and spark innovation; and techniques to unify customer focus and build bridges across functions, cultures, and distance.


Hopefully this blog has given you a few things to consider before you put your team together. Spend time developing the team and you’ll be up and running with CRM before you know it. Now its over to you…

Leave a comment on this blog about your experiences of brilliant team leaders

11 Tips for delivering CRM to a team

A few tips for working with a team to deliver CRM

  1. Sit with them: Get a deep understanding of how they work and what they expect from CRM. This could be via process mapping or shadowing.
  2. Identify what they need to report: This will help show CRM has been a success
  3. Identify any improvements to the way they work: What out of the box technology could they use to make life easier? Dashboards, templates etc.
  4. Put the detail into a spec: Provides you/your supplier with clear guidelines
  5. Create a proof of concept: A visual will help engage the team. Use your sandbox environment, or excel to show how CRM will work.
  6. Tweak the proof of concept: Make amendments and take it back to the team to review. Use real-world scenarios to check that the concept works.
  7. Develop the product: The feedback from your proof of concept and spec will walk you/supplier through this part of the process.
  8. Test, test and test again: Test and resolve any problems, doing this shows the users you’re listening to feedback.
  9. Create a go live support plan for the first week: Sit with the team and deal with issues as they come up.
  10. Monitor use for the first 3 months: By this time CRM should be part of the job
  11. Listen & Act: Book any changes 2 months after go live. This helps identify if the changes are required or just part of the learning curve

CLICK HERE to get your copy of Delivering CRM – A short read designed to help non techies deliver a CRM system

14 Tips to Support Your CRM Go Live

I’ve put together a few tips to help go live run smoothly. It can be a daunting time, but if you start planning early you’ll keep everyone in the loop and manage any weird  and wonderful things that happen on the big day.

  1. When will you go live? Be realistic, you don’t want to be testing the product the day before you hit the button. If there’s time constraints then manage how you roll out CRM. Going live with 1000 users across 20 departments may be a bit ambitious.
  2. Who will go live? Establish this early and put an appointment in their calendar.
  3. What will they go live with? How will they use CRM, what functionality will they use and how will they interact with teams who don’t have access? They’ll need to know if they should use other systems for part of their process or will legacy systems disappear from day one?
  4. How will they get help? On the day, the first week/month etc. Think long term. Having a variety of ways to get support will help users. You could use YouTube videos, Word quick guides or super users. This variety will also help people with different learning styles
  5. How will you manage problems? I’d suggest adding these to an issues log and review it at the end of each day. Things that seem big problems in the moment often aren’t that bad. On the flip side if something serious does happen people need to know what action to take there and then.
  6. Put together a go live team. The team should be made up of project team members, the team going live and others who are impacted. IT and (depending on cost) your supplier will provide technical cover. This team will have a good understanding of CRM from the start and be able to manage any issues the users experience. These often range from knowing where to click to dealing with error messages.
  7. Develop a go live support plan. Work with the team to agree on the best way to manage user issues. Grade them from low (we’ll deal with that when the dust settles) to medium to high (pull the plug it’s all gone Pete tong). Doing this will give the team clarity on what’s expected. Put the plan place for the first week of go live
  8. Get the message out there. Tell users CRM is on the way and how they’ll get extra help (this makes the assumption users have been trained).

The big day – avoid Monday 

  1. On the day. The project lead should be visible but not dealing with all the little issues. You’ll need to look at the bigger picture to make sure everything is running smoothly
  2. Set up conference calls between the go live team. One in the morning, after lunch and at the end of the day to keep on top of issues and to let them know about any ongoing issues.
  3. Set up a Skype or Whatsapp group. This helps the lead manage issues and gives the team the opportunity to help each other, especially if they’re on different sites.
  4. Let people know how it’s gone. This goes for the team on the day, new users and senior managers.
  5. Have a drink and repeat 9 to 12 for the rest of the week.
  6. Finally give yourself a pat on the back. Getting CRM off the ground is hard work.

Now you’re live the fun really starts. Enjoy!!