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Crestwood Associates

We Bought Microsoft CRM — Now What? 5 Questions To Consider

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The popularity of CRM applications has grown very rapidly in the last few years.  Prior to that, CRM had a somewhat deserved reputation of not delivering on its promises – leading to over-budget, under-performing implementations.  But with recent improvements in both the solution and what is required to implement, this application has again become the darling of business applications.  And Microsoft Dynamics CRM, with its very strong technical and functional design, is one of the leaders.    

But this popularity has led to a too-often-occurring phenomena.  Companies will hear what CRM can do for them, they will read about success stories of other companies, and they will purchase it, not really having a clear vision of what they want to do with it.  And although it is the CRM consultant’s role to help identify the critical needs addressed during the sales process, this knowledge does not always stick.  This can lead to an odd backwards need to “re-sell” the solution after the client has already purchased it.

Although somewhat obvious, it is important to identify what you want to get out of the system before you buy it.  It helps to examine what you do now and where it hurts.  Mapping out your current process can be an illuminating experience.  A simple and partial checklist to keep in mind might be:

  • What customer information do you want to track?  Contacts and Opportunities are always at the core of the system.  But what else do you need to track?  And what specific pieces of data, unique to your business, are needed?  Dynamics CRM makes it very easy to add additional fields of information, so feel free to go a little nuts and dream big.  You can always edit later.
  •  How do you sell?  What sales process yields the greatest success?  Do you want  to standardize  this process?  If so, define this best practice approach and plan to let CRM make this the template on which your sales people work.
  • What information do you want to get out of the system?  How do you want it presented (lists, graphs, Excel based pivot tables)?
  • What processes would you like to automate?  Are there simple assigning of tasks and routing of leads or opportunities that can be defined so that Dynamics CRM does the work for you? CRM’s Workflow engine makes this easy and it can yield tremendous productivity gains.  Additionally what alerts would you like to define?  When should someone be notified of an existing condition or lack of follow-up?
  • What security is needed?  Who should be able to see what?  Dynamics CRM makes assigning security levels astonishingly easy.

So if you’ve bought CRM and are still scratching your head a little, or even if you are on the brink of buying and haven’t mapped out what you really want, a little bit of planning will go a long way -- both towards a successful implementation, and towards improving your return on investment.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have: Rick Feterick, Feterick & Associates, Inc  847-795-8200 x74 or rfeterick@feterick.com.

Submitted by Feterick & Associates, Inc -- A Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner in Illinois

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