Don't Put the Cart Before the Horse

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Process excellence is red-hot. Leading companies worldwide are turning to it to enhance such business processes as streamlining new product development and improving CRM. The strategy of business process management is working for companies before and during their CRM initiatives. A leading footwear and apparel manufacturer, for example, opted first to document its account-team collaboration processes prior to considering CRM technologies to support these processes. This company knows that in a successful CRM implementation process must always precede technology. To drive success the manufacturer is following a six-step methodology: 1. Form a cross-functional process team comprising players who are responsible for looking after customers (e.g., sales, service, finance, logistics). 2. Let the cross-functional team chart as-is account-team collaboration business processes. 3. Validate documented processes with customers. 4. Work closely with customers to enhance as-is processes to create to-be business processes. 5. Train users on the new to-be processes. 6. Use CRM technologies to support the enhanced to-be processes. Similarly, to reboot a stalling CRM initiative a Department of Defense (DoD) agency temporarily halted its multiweek CRM pilot, which was meant to test its new customer account management application, and applied a five-step approach: 1. Document as-is business processes. 2. Provide these business process flows, and the resulting prioritized business functional requirements, to the CRM software's technical programming team. 3. Set baseline metrics prior to the commencement of the pilot, and then update these metrics weekly during the pilot. 4. Properly train pilot users on the new business processes and the CRM pilot tool. 5. Identify process and technical glitches, and act promptly to resolve them. The pilot was so successful using this process-excellence approach that as a result, the agency's top management is using the methodology to roll out the CRM application to additional DoD users. Companies can also use a process-excellence strategy to boost existing CRM results. The insurance division of an automotive firm needs to increase the number of processed insurance applications five-fold within three years to meet its financial objectives. To accomplish this the organization is implementing a three-step process: 1. Document and then revamp as-is business processes, taking into account customer input. 2. Train insurance agents on the new to-be processes. 3. Use CRM technology to support the new processes. Initial results have been promising. The company is already able to process additional insurance applications as a direct result of its process excellence efforts. Management expects that CRM technology will only further enhance their results. Interestingly, these three organizations are following a similar process strategy to achieve CRM implementation success. Their first step was to get the customer-facing processes right by enhancing them as necessary. Next they took the time to secure buy-in from internal and external process users. Finally, they applied CRM technology to optimize the new, enhanced processes. If your CRM initiative is not following the above strategy, which has process excellence at its core, perhaps now is the time to rethink your approach. Barton Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., a CRM and real-time enterprise consulting firm in Bethesda, MD. He is the author of CRM Automation and the publisher of
The Guide to CRM Automation. Contact him at bgoldenberg@ismguide.com
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