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Issue #178

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Tale of Two CRMs - The Process Factor

This newsletter series covers approaches leveraged to ensure the success of numerous Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives, including a global deployment presently in process. In the previous two articles, we covered the People-Factor, which should be considered THE most important aspect of your CRM program.

In this article, we will cover Process-Factors to consider, including:

  • Defining the Business Process
  • Ensuring Global Involvement and Buy-in

    Defining the Business Process

    During a recent call in which I was providing a reference for our implementation partner (Edgewater Technology), I was asked if the process we went through on this CRM initiative could be considered a “re-engineering effort.” I replied,  “No, not really. It was simply standardizing a global company on a single, efficient and effective set of operational procedures.”

    At the end of the day, there are standard building blocks in Sales and Service-related processes, including (but not limited to):

    • Account, Contact and Activity Management
    • Opportunity Management and Forecasting
    • Quote-to-Order
    • Service/Case Management
    • Field Service Dispatch
    • Reporting

    These (and other) CRM-related building blocks are fully baked into the leading edge solutions. Moreover, they can be configured to meet the specific needs of each client’s implementation. As such, we didn’t need to start with a blank sheet of paper.

    Edgewater Technology employed the Agile methodology for this project which, at a high-level, consisted of:

    • A walkthrough of each process area with subject matter experts and key stakeholders in the business
    • Three cycles of:
      • Configuring specific modules within the overall solution
      • A review/demo of what was configured (above) to obtain feedback
    • Solution finalization

    For this particular CRM initiative, there were eight countries represented (US, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Belgium, Italy and Germany). As you might imagine each country had its own CRM-related business practices, which had evolved over many years.

    The intent of the process walkthrough was NOT to define the “as is” business process. Instead, the approach was to glean the key business requirements of each process, from each country, and map them into the target CRM solution. During this process, the key question asked was “why do you do this?” to ensure that ONLY value-added steps were included in the future business process and solution. The theme was: it is not so much “what you do today”, but “why do you do it?” because, there “may” be a better way.

    To ensure ease-of-use and an efficient / effective process, a key guideline was that of minimizing the amount of required information (that is, only “require” those data elements that are “absolutely” necessary). We have found that when there are too many required fields, users find the solution cumbersome, resulting in lack of adoption, or they will randomly input information (regardless of its accuracy) just to “get by” the required field.

    Ensuring Global Involvement and Buy-in

    To enable participation from team-members around the world, our meetings (including process definition, solution demos and testing) consisted of combinations of video conferences, conference calls and Webex sessions scheduled at times which placed equal time-zone-related burden on all team-members. And, for particularly important meetings, the Webex session was recorded. These recordings were then made available to those who could not attend (and were also beneficial to those who could attend, and wanted to review particular discussions and decisions reached).

    The approaches outlined above were very effective in ensuring global involvement. However, additional steps were necessary to ensure a globally accepted solution. This included:

    • Defining the local language requirements
    • Getting the stakeholders from each country in the same room

    Given the number of languages represented by the countries in scope of this initiative, an early agreement had to be reached related to local language requirements. In this case, the following guiding principle was adopted:

    • Internally facing aspects of the CRM solution (i.e., screens and reports) would be in English.
    • External/customer-facing aspects of the CRM solution (quotes, services reports, etc.) would be in the language of the customer/contact.

    To be clear, the leading-edge solutions have “language packs” that can be implemented to enable user-interfaces in local language. However, it was decided that the cost (ongoing maintenance) outweighed the benefits (local language screens for a company which interacts, internally, on a global basis, in English).

    Once the solution was fully configured, a conference room pilot (CRP) was held in Europe including representation from Sales, Service and Finance personnel as well as management from each country. In summary, a dry-run of training was performed, enabling these individuals to exercise the solution and provide (final) feedback on the solution configuration, training content and delivery. At the end of the session, applause was received from ALL team-members sharing their enthusiasm at being heard, feeling part of and having fully bought-in to the solution.


    In subsequent editions we will cover the technology factor and lessons learned.


    In closing, if you are embarking on a CRM initiative, are in the throes of one that isn’t on track to deliver the results you expected, or would like to discuss additional details related to the approaches and techniques being covered, contact us. We’d be happy to provide a sounding board and determine if there is an opportunity to assist you in getting the MOST out of your investment in CRM.

    Available Talent
    As our clients can attest, Customer Centricity talent is comprised of seasoned resources with “scars of experience” who bring incredible focus to drive key business initiatives to successful conclusion. An example of a resource currently available is:
    Project Manager with significant experience driving local and global business-critical initiatives including:

    • IT/Business Applications
      • Commissions Management
      • CRM
      • E-Commerce
      • Financial Planning & Analysis
      • Human Resource Solutions
      • Professional Services Automation
      • Manufacturing Execution System
    • Product development, prototyping, testing, and launch of a new dental implant and prosthetic product line
    • Facilities renovations
    • Pragmatically applying PMI practices and metrics into all projects
    Our primary objective is to make you look good through the successful completion of your business-critical initiatives. In addition, we seek to serve as a mentor to effectively transition and/or develop key skills in your organization so that you are not dependent on external resources for the long term.

    If you’d like to learn more about how Customer Centricity can help you, please contact us. We’re happy to serve as a sounding board and determine if there is real potential to assist you.

    In This Edition
    + A Tale of Two CRMs:
       The Process Factor
    + Available Talent

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    Recommended Reading



    For a comprehensive guide to Customer Relationship Management, you are encouraged to read CRM In Real Time: Empowering Customer Relationships by Barton Goldenberg.

    As described on

    This comprehensive guide to CustomerRelationship Management (CRM) draws on Barton Goldenberg's 20+ years of experience guiding firms to a successful implementation of CRM solutions and techniques. Goldenberg demonstrates how the right mix of people, process, and technology can help firms achieve a superior level of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and new business. Beginning with a primer for executives who need to get quickly up-to-speed on CRM, the book covers a full range of critical issues including integration challenges and security concerns, and illuminates CRM's key role in the 24/7/365 real-time business revolution. CRM in Real Time is an essential guide for any organization seeking to maximize customer relationships, coordinate customer-facing functions, and leverage the power of the Internet as business goes real time.


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