A CRM Simplistic Approach - Relative Accuracy

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When measuring something, "accuracy" means the difference between a measurement taken by some sort of measuring device and what the actual value is. The “Relative Accuracy” can then be expressed as a percent – i.e. 98% - of the measured value. Higher Relative Accuracy numbers usually mean more sophisticated measuring devices or more highly skilled/dedicated people taking the measurements.

So what does any of that have to do with CRM? Well, when looking at the functionality you set up in CRM, or any system for that matter, you typically have options in terms of complexity, cost, and accuracy. And when consulting on your CRM to initially get set up or plan enhancements, you and your consultant will likely weigh these factors in determining the approach you take.

Now you might say that you understand options regarding complexity and cost, but how can we accept anything but perfect accuracy? Naturally, you do always want accurate information. And for vital data there may be no compromise – it just has to be right. But could there also be a use for data that is “mostly” accurate? Maybe – let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you want to know the last time an activity was completed for an Account in Microsoft CRM. You can create a view, advanced find, report, etc. to list the completed Activities and sequence them by date. Or maybe try using one of the system reports to show neglected Accounts and drill down into the details.

But these options require a user to use a list and find/check the Account they may be interested in. Maybe what is really desired is a simple date field easily viewed on the Account form or within an Account View. And maybe also a field that displays what the type of Activity it was – phone call, appointment, etc.

To accomplish that, you can take a couple of approaches. You could have custom code written to evaluate completed Activities – the code will look through all the completed Activities related to an Account and capture the absolute latest completion date on an Activity. But, that code can come at a cost – both initially and if changes are ever needed.

A simpler, but potentially less accurate, approach is to create workflows that are triggered whenever a new Activity is completed in CRM. The workflow populates the completion date and type of Activity in the Account form, thus creating the same desired visibility.

So where does the lower “Relative Accuracy” in this simpler approach come from? In both approaches, there is the error risk that the user simply doesn’t enter the Activity – that’s another issue. The “Relative Accuracy” difference occurs depending on when the Activity is entered by the user. Let’s look at an example. Assume the Activities below were marked as completed in CRM in the following order:

Completion Date Activity Type

3/3/2012 Phone Call

3/12/2012 Appointment

3/17/2012 Phone Call

3/15/2012 Phone Call

The data for the individual Activity record is correct. And the custom code approach would correctly show the 3/17/2012 Phone Call as the latest Activity. But the workflow approach would show the 3/15/2012 Phone Call as the latest Activity. Is that significant? It depends – for example, if you want metrics for sales management that know if the Account has been contacted in the last 3 months, then the workflow approach is likely quite acceptable. If accuracy has to be absolute, then this is certainly not acceptable.

You have to ultimately make the choice on accuracy. And there are lots of choices to make in the course of setting CRM. Absolute accuracy is usually complex and can be pricey – weigh your options and choose the best mix of options for your business.

If you have any questions about this simple 80/20 approach for your organization, please give us a call. As a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Certified Gold Partner we have helped hundreds of customers successfully implement CRM and CRM enhancements for their organizations. You can read about their RM customer success stories on our website.

By Ledgeview Partners – Wisconsin based Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner serving the Midwest and Heartland regions

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