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Denise CRM Software Optimization Strategies Report


III. CRM Optimization Via Software Technology Advancements

Sustained system adoption and business results require that the CRM application deliver value when it's deployed, and on an ongoing basis. Accomplishing these goals in the optimization phase is far easier when companies continue following best practices established in the CRM implementation phase:

  • Strategic vision: The executive sponsor and CRM program director should periodically revisit the company's strategic vision for the system – and validate or revise how the CRM system directly supports the company's most pressing business objectives. As previously described, these objectives change over time (increase sales conversions, improve support, etc.) and must be translated into SMART goals, prioritized, slated and well communicated throughout the enterprise.
  • High-impact deliverables: In mapping the goals to an optimization plan, they should be broken into manageable increments that can be delivered quickly, make a demonstrable business impact, and build momentum – thus sustaining broad and continued support for the CRM system.
  • Ongoing execution: Over time, new capabilities should be rolled out on a steady, periodic basis, again linked to the strategic business objectives.

System Integration: A Key Factor in CRM Optimization

Velocity and momentum are essential in a CRM implementation, and beyond; the challenge is to balance the highest impact choices and bring them to the forefront. Optimizing a CRM system is therefore an extension of a "start small, deliver fast" implementation strategy.

During the initial CRM implementation, the CRM system is typically integrated with other primary systems such as the accounting system or ERP application. After the go-live event, CRM integration with other legacy systems generally becomes a top priority in the optimization phase, and central to the system delivering maximum value. Software integration reduces manual processes, eliminates rekeying of data, streamlines business processes, reduces cycle times and make information more readily available for reports, analytics or business intelligence applications. Some legacy system examples may include the following.

  • Secondary enterprise systems such as Web-based Order Management or e-commerce, to eliminate the manual re-keying of sales orders.
  • Tertiary systems such as social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), to help hone relationships with customer contacts, and to also continuously measure outside perception of a company's products or services.

Software integration can also enable additional functionality or processes, such as giving business partners access to the company's customer management system through an online partner portal. Across the board, system integration can deliver key benefits such as reducing waste, optimizing business processes and allowing head count to be deployed to more value-added activities.

As the CRM environment is optimized, it may assume more capabilities and become uncoupled from other systems downstream. For any integration activity, the important point is that as business processes change, the company needs to implement the necessary modifications in its CRM environment to ensure continued automation and continuity in the way the process is fulfilled.

CRM Optimization Best Practice: Validate Manual Processes Before Automation

Software integration plays a critical role in facilitating process automation. As a best practice, companies should make sure that business processes function consistently and with predicted results, in their manual state, before automating them in the CRM system. Often companies' enthusiasm for the CRM software results in overly ambitious process automation during the initial optimization phase. This can have disastrous results, magnifying the process' flaws.

For example, as CRM systems are embraced by more and more users within an organization, customer support and help desk systems are popular continued adoption or integration choices. Sometimes cross-pollination of data and actions between these systems and CRM can have unexpected results. Notifications may be set on a very sensitive level within the help desk, generating email updates at every step of a problem resolution. If the notification process is connected without modification to the CRM system, for example, sales representatives could be besieged with emails as multiple customers' support issues progress to resolution. This alienates users from the system and fosters mistrust in a key constituency of the CRM system's user community.

CRM Optimization ReportCRM Optimization via ProcessCRM Optimization via SoftwareCRM SaaSCRM Optimization Report Summary





As a best practice, companies should make sure that processes function consistently and with predicted results, in their manual state, before automating them in a CRM system. Often companies' enthusiasm for their CRM software results in overly ambitious process automation in the optimization phase, potentially having disastrous results as process' flaws become magnified.



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