The most important factor to consider when implementing a CRM solution is data--and there are three key elements that need close consideration throughout all aspects of the implementation: pre-import data cleansing, data enhancement, and data integration.
Posted Aug 2, 2004
The single most important factor to the success of a CRM implementation is the data migration. To maximize the potential for success, there are three key elements that need close consideration throughout all aspects of the implementation: pre-import data cleansing, data enhancement, and data integration.
Pre-import data cleansing
Pre-import data cleansing needs to be addressed in the early planning stages. This process is time-and-resource intensive, but vital to any CRM implementation.
When looking at data cleansing it is important to consider the following:
Analyze all data sources: Working with all the data sources up front, you will discover important relationships (the "R" in CRM) that exist within the data. Duplicates in raw data are actually turned into "relationships" in the final system.
Automated versus manual process: Look for tools to help automate and assist with data cleansing prior to importing into the CRM package. The CRM application may have tools to help cleanse the data once it is imported or migrated, but the end users--the real data contributors--will likely have a negative initial reaction to the system due to high numbers of duplicates. They might also become frustrated when "their data" continues to change throughout the clean-up process.
CRM application capabilities/limitations: Make sure all the limitations of the application are known when it comes to data cleansing. By understanding the limitations and capabilities, you will be able to set end-user expectations appropriately and minimize disappointment from the contributors.
Data enhancement is a key element to consider when you are about to import the data into the CRM application. By automating the process and considering all the data sources up front, including external ones, the user's data has the potential to be greatly enhanced prior to import. This enhancement can be used as an internal marketing tool to gain acceptance of the CRM tool within the organization. For example, while the user may have had basic contact information for their key client, data enhancement will allow the user to see the 360-degree view of that client. This includes who else knows the client, what industry the client is in, the client's demographics, and perhaps how much revenue has been generated from this client in the past year and year-to-date. This information will allow better management of the relationship with the contact, and allow the organization to generate targeted emails, newsletters, and other marketing material per the user's request to do so.
Data integration is the third component that will promote usage in any CRM application. First and foremost, it is imperative that the CRM system be tightly integrated with your organization's email system. Users have been utilizing this system to manage their contacts for a long time, and seamless integration is necessary so users can continue working on their contacts within their email system if they desire. If these two systems are not integrated, there is a risk of losing a great deal of contributors to the CRM system, because users simply will not manage their contacts in two places. Be sure to test this functionality thoroughly before purchasing any CRM solution.
Second, integration with other desktop applications will assist in CRM usage. Consider integration with client intake processes, word processing functions, faxing, shipping, and any other systems that require use-of-name and address information. By integrating this business process with a CRM solution, you are providing tools that will improve productivity and enhance data quality over the long run.
Data is the most important factor to consider when implementing a CRM solution. By looking at how the data will be cleansed, enhanced, and integrated with daily work flows via the CRM application, you will promote utilization of the application, better long-term data quality, and a faster return on your investment.
About the Author
Craig Wright is a senior managing consultant for Lynch Marks LLC. He provides CRM implementation assistance for professional service firms, including business analysis-design validation and data-migration consulting. To contact Craig, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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