In this blog I’m going to look at information on our own people. We talk about the need to manage the expectations of stakeholders in the CRM system but often don’t think about managing the information on this group as much as we think about managing information on other groups, such as clients or referrers. As a result, very often firms who deploy CRM systems, struggle with the management of the data for their own people.

The challenge that CRM systems face when it comes to managing information about our own people is that information can exist in a lot of different places and is maintained by different processes, outside the control of the CRM team.

This blog explores these different types of information and the issues that firms face in trying to manage them effectively.

The diagram above illustrates the breadth of information that CRM systems may wish to access when it comes to the firm’s own people. I’m going to group the information in to three different categories.

  • Basic Data
  • Experience
  • Influence

Basic Data

You would think that managing information on basic data would be easy. My experience in working with firms is that’s far from true. Basic data is not just the name and contact information of your staff but also needs to include information about their role, user groups, security profile etc. For most firms that means that they need to look at data both from their HR system but also potentially Active Directory.

As with all systems the HR system was built for its own purposes and integrating with CRM probably wasn’t top of the priority list when it was installed. Therefore matching data from HR to CRM can be challenging, not just for basic contact information but for managing rules around leavers and joiners, Alumni, secondees, retired partners and various other groups that we want to categorise on CRM. It seems that most firms use an almost entirely manual process for categorising these groups, when defining the rules and integrating with HR would enable this to be automated, saving a great deal of time and effort.

Active Directory is often technically more straight forward than HR systems, but because it holds information needed to govern the usage of other IT systems, it groups users in a specific way which may not be compatible with CRM. So this will need to be given some thought and you may need to think about creating additional or different user groups in CRM. In the long run however this is worth it as automating the creation and management of your users as far as possible will reduce a significant data management overhead.

Experience

Managing information on your staff’s experience and expertise is one of the most important considerations, and few firms have really mastered this. It’s important to distinguish at this stage between the Experience and Expertise as they may actually come from different places. Information about expertise generally comes from HR (languages spoken, professional skills etc.) whereas information about experience is more likely to come from Finance (jobs on which they have worked, industries in which they specialise).

Both of these sources of information are extremely valuable when it comes to generating pitches but can be very challenging in terms of their reliability and quality. If you consider the way in which information is stored for the projects or matters on which your professionals have worked, it tends to be focused more on the creation of the job or matter in order to get a time recording code rather than business development. The process is an administrative one, it doesn’t consider the use of that information further down stream. This is such a missed opportunity!

One of the most important changes that firms should consider is how they capture information as part of the client acceptance or matter creation process. My view is that firms should dramatically reduce the amount of data being captured from professionals during that process and focus more on gathering information that only the professionals can provide e.g. what’s the business driver for this engagement, what are the issues that our instruction is helping the client to address?

Rules should be established that identify those jobs or matters that are likely to be “credential worthy” so that these can be identified automatically and edited for content and use earlier on. Firms want to present the work that they’ve been doing for clients, so why do so many wait until the pitch needs to head out through the door, before they frantically gather and then edit information on their credential worthy work? Or miss presenting important experience entirely because it was not adequately categorised in the finance system?

Influence

As with the basic information, this data often resides within HR. Understanding where former professionals are going is absolutely critical. Many firms manage the Alumni programme from a marketing perspective very well, but all too often it relies on manual data management usually in the form of a “leavers and joiners” email from HR. This is another great example of where making a small change to a process can reduce significantly the data management overhead. When a professional leaves, that should trigger an update in CRM so that the Alumni programme manager was alerted to that. Of even better, HR could provide the information about where that person was going as part of the exit process. Neither of these things happen very often.

Firms often spend a lot of time trying to manage the data on their own people and as with financial information the quality and process for gathering that data is often outside of their control. However, taking a business process view of that data rather than a systems view of the data is absolutely vital in order to make sure that data gathered as part of one process can be used effectively by another.