In this the second of this brief series of blogs on the Golden Rules of successful CRM implementation, I’m going to focus on reporting.

For many people getting the data right is all about inputs.    If you think like this you’re looking at the problem the wrong way around.  Understand what the outputs are and that naturally drives the inputs.

For example, do you target your clients on the basis of whether they manufacture shoes or manufacture trousers?  If not then don’t categorise your data to 6 digit SIC codes just classify them as manufacturing!  If you look at industry sectors based on an abstract concept of a need to have a way to codify your clients without thinking of how you actually use it, then you run the risk of having way too much detail and a means of classification which is largely irrelevant.

You have to understand what information you will need and what data you currently have.  For each element of your overall CRM vision, you have to have the following:

  • The objectives for that element
  • The business processes that support the objective
  • The information required to support the business processes

Every system is designed with a specific purpose in mind and it will require data to be input in a specific format so that it can deliver the desired outputs.

What I mean by this is, don’t try and turn your CRM system into a financial reporting database.

Yes by all means pull financials through from your practice management system but understand the context in which they are being used, for example as a snapshot of the level of business being done with that client to drive how you manage their relationship.

If you find yourself in a position where you have multiple data sources and dozens of interlocking programmes all of which are dependent on CRM which don’t seem to be working (a place in which firms who’ve had CRM for some years seem to find themselves) then often the best way to sort this out is by tackling a small number of clients first.

A logical group to start with is almost certainly your key clients.  Once you’ve sorted out the data management issues for the smallest (but most important) group then you can build from there.

The next step is to define what reports are going to generate interest amongst your partners and the information they might be interested in knowing.    Typically this includes not much more than:

  • What’s going on with my clients?
  • What mailings do they receive, and which ones do they read?
  • What events do they get invited to and which ones do they attend?
  • Am I missing any opportunities to exploit our relationships?
  • Are their names spelled correctly?
  • Can I get a report that summarises this information?

You will almost inevitably encounter issues trying to generate the reports the first time around.   This is mainly due to the challenge that all systems encounter – humans.

Unfortunately not everyone enters information in the way that we would like them to.  In addition you may also find that some of the decisions you made when you implemented CRM don’t work any more as they don’t produce the outputs you now have identified you need.

Sorting this out is often an iterative and time-consuming process, but don’t lose heart, delivering meaningful and useful reports to partners WILL dramatically improve acceptance and usage of the system.

In the final of this brief series of Golden Rules, I’m going to talk about management culture and communication.  Getting these right are amongst the most fundamental things for making CRM successful in your firm.