You’ve decided you are ready to start your CRM project. You want the must-have technology to speed up your sales cycle, improve your marketing, offer impeccable customer service, and make everyone in leadership leave happy at the end of every day. Right? Start by defining business processes.

You have also heard all of the horrible tales from peers who have already made attempts to launch CRM software. Users hated it.  The system didn’t work as they expected.  It slowed down salespeople. The marketing department doesn’t even log in anymore and customer service is a train wreck.

What happened?  Well, they probably skipped the most important step, defining business processes and documenting them relative to the impact on the customer and the business team’s experiences.

Success Depends on Proper Planning

In this article, we will walk you through the first step to increase your chances of a successful CRM Project. It takes time, collaborative planning, and a clear focus on your long-term goal. 

Francis Buttle and Stan Maklan offer the truly best definition of CRM in Customer Relationship

Management-Kindle Edition, “CRM is the core business strategy that integrates internal processes and functions, and external networks, to create and deliver value to targeted customers at a profit.  It is grounded on high-quality customer-related data and enabled by information technology” (16).

As this definition implies, the project you are undertaking crosses departments and impacts every member of your organization. Therefore, success means crossing the boundaries and fully understanding the processes, functions, and experiences of everyone impacted. This includes not only the employees’ but your customers’ experiences as well.

Why You Need to Define Your Current Daily Processes

The first step in your success is clearly defining the daily work activities that occur as business processes. Processes often happen independently of one another but many of them will impact others across the organization. For example, you see the daily flow across the processes when sales and marketing teams communicate with customers who then interact with support or management teams who rely on operational teams.  Over time as these processes get more clearly defined you can see the entire system of processes, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  That’s a great start to understanding your needs and planning goals.
This is the nature of systems. Before one can successfully apply a technology solution to a system, you have to know with certainty what the processes of the system are.  According to W. Edwards Deming, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” 

Seven Key Questions to Help in Defining Business Processes

At this point, it is most important to simply define the tasks/functions of each process.  Do not try to modify the process and do not analyze the process. You only need to document the process as it is now, without judgment or analysis (that happens later). Each team or process leader answers these initial questions.

Name the Process: 

  1. Who owns the process?
  2. Who/What is the main supplier in the process?
  3. Who/What is the main input in the process?
  4. What is the purpose of the process?
  5. What is the output of the process?
  6. Who is the customer impacted by the process?
  7. What are the steps in the process? (process map) 

The first step in your success is clearly defining the daily work activities that occur as business processes

Process definitions are critical to the success of your project. When you start your implementation of CRM, the technology itself is a big change. The system should be built to support your current state of operations. Also, these processes are going to help us define your experience maps. Understanding how your current processes impact your customers, both internal and external is key in redefining what you want your future experience to be.

Do I need to define and fix everything right away? 

By no means are we saying that a project needs to wait until you have documented all of the processes for the company.  However, to be successful you must document processes that will be moved into a technology solution! Also, note the impacts on external networks and departments because your change will impact the system.

Who needs to be involved in the CRM Process Definition Phase?

As you are defining the processes, be sure you have the right people in the room to help you document the process definition.  We have had many experiences where management sits down and we define the processes as management reports them only to find out (usually post-launch that the process that is being used is nothing like the one management believed to be in place. Ask the people that are doing the job.  Their input is valuable.

Processes will always get completed, somehow. Your team members and peers are measured on what they deliver. One way or another it will get delivered, even if that means creating a whole new process.

It is important to remember, we are not modeling new processes here.  We are documenting what is happening currently in your business.  With an understanding of your well-defined process definitions, we create solid experience maps to define and show how your customer experience is revealed through daily interactions.  It also helps us as we further explore and establish your CRM Strategy.

Visit our blog next week as we share how we deliver a plan to support the CRM technology solution.

To get you ready for a Successful CRM Project, download our free worksheet, “Defining Business Processes.”  Get your teams together and take the first step toward a successful technology solution.

We integrate processes, functions, and networks so you can deliver valuable customer experiences.

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