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Lean Techniques for Defining CRM Goals

If you’ve struggled with defining your CRM goals – rest assured that you are not alone!

What business challenge will your investment in CRM goals address?

Is there a specific business pain which is impacting your bottom line?  Is there a specific business opportunity you want to pursue? Start with no more than ONE or TWO! Too often, we meet customers who fail to realize benefits because they bite off more than they can chew during a CRM project.

An example business pain might be following up on sales leads. Are you losing sales because your staff is not returning or replying to phone calls, website inquires, or other inbound leads? Does the contact information submitted get immediately updated in your CRM system or does it stay invisible until a batch file is processed or a user enters the data manually? Furthermore, who is assigned to take action on the lead, in what timeframe, and how high a priority is that task on their list of daily responsibilities?

Your potential customer may lose interest if your follow up takes hours or days. We’ve all had the frustrating experience of submitting an online inquiry only to have it disappear into a black hole. Life and priorities move so fast in business that potential customers who don’t receive almost immediate acknowledgement are tempted to move on to other options.

One of our customers in Vancouver, BC had tasked a senior sales resource to manually enter leads in their CRM system. This was not a significant task when web leads accounted for a small percentage of incoming activity. But now this resource is spending almost 2.5 hours per week on data entry rather than sales activities. This $5000 a year sales productivity loss is further compounded because the salesperson started their day by creating lead records, rather than contacting the leads and following up on their requests.

So, let’s use “Respond to sales leads faster” as an example business problem. Treat this opportunity and its solution like a goal.  Make it specific, measurable and time constrained.

So the example above might become “30 days from now, we will respond to sales leads within 4 business hours with a personalized response.”

Document these details in a format and place where you, your team and management can often refer back to your starting point, problem and goal. Publish the information and get consensus from all of the management players. This is not the CRM project team; it’s the people in the company who will judge the results at the end of the project.

Next, make certain that the current process is documented and all of the users involved are identified. The current process owners and users will be key to the next several phases of the project. The project team should include representatives from each of these groups.

Find out where the data used in the process is currently created, stored and/or transformed. Then, add all of the process, user, and data documentation to your collaboration tool.

Now, map the process by diagramming the steps in the process and the time each step takes.  Include an estimate or average of the time in between the steps of a process! This is an opportunity to streamline or eliminate “waste” from the process. The central theme in Lean thinking is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.

In Lean, this kind of process documentation is called Value Stream Mapping. In our example it would highlight the time gap between receipt of an inquiry, any data capture steps and the follow up by your team. How often do website inquiries get collected and updated in your CRM system, or retrieved from a silo like Outlook email, or an Excel spreadsheet? If a sales representative gets an alert that there is a new inquiry in the CRM system, does that take priority over their other tasks? Or, does it just get a response when they get around to it?

The key to accomplishing your goal will be to reduce the hold time between actions or time wasting steps in your current process or system. Now that you have a clear picture of the current process problems, these can be solved with CRM workflow, data integration, or system alerts. Of course, not all of the process corrections can be fixed by software alone. Many may need business process change and buy-in to obtain the required results.

This initial value identification does not need to take more than a few days. Make certain you resist the urge to add complexity to the project goal.

Tips for Defining Your CRM Goals

Keeping the focus on a small set of value creation opportunities will streamline the project and produce your desired results faster.

It’s also iterative. As you get better at process re-engineering using your CRM solutions, you can repeat the process with each new opportunity to create value (i.e., address new challenges and opportunities).

We often conduct pre-implementation analysis (PIA) projects with clients focused on identifying value opportunities and mapping them to CRM strategies. A recent PIA for a distribution customer in Seattle, WA identified several problems and opportunities. Each of these opportunities were ranked for their business impact and scheduled into short discrete projects to facilitate process change.

Check back for the next article in this series which will address how to incorporate the Lean 6 S principles into your project preparation. This analysis will help ensure your project is accomplished on time and on budget.

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