Is Your CRM System Destined To Fail?Written by David Cowgill
It’s time to put your trusty CRM software to work; to let it earn its keep. You're about to blast an email out to several thousand potential customers. First you run a search of people and companies you want to target. You soon realize something’s wrong when your list is far smaller than anticipated. A quick check reveals many profiles have not been filled in or are missing email addresses. Further inspection shows numerous records are incorrect; others are riddled with typos. And that’s just for starters. With a sinking feeling, you realize this email blast isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Time for some damage control or preventative maintenance
Fortunately one of most common reasons cited for high failure rate of CRM systems - poor data quality - is also one of easiest to avoid. Your CRM software is only as good as information it contains. As old programmers motto goes ‘garbage in, garbage out’. So how can you avoid incomplete, incorrect, irrelevant or out-of-date and generally unfit-for-use data from permeating your CRM software?
You need to gather your key CRM users together and write a standard guideline document, defining CRM system rules of use.
10 questions that should be addressed:
1. Identify who has what rights to system; who can Create, Insert, Modify or Delete records? Forward this information to your system administrator to record. 2. Decide on a procedure to check for any duplicates before creating a record. Depending on what ‘de-duping’ or ‘data scrubbing’ features your system has, this might require some simple searches before starting a new record. 3. Do you allow abbreviations or acronyms? For example: IBM, or I.B.M, or International Business Machines Inc. A policy on ensuring consistency of input will help to avoid duplications in future. 4. Are records going to be created in Upper and Lower case and when are CAPS acceptable? 5. By when do you expect records, notes and so on to be created or updated? Same day, on return to office? 6. Is primary address of clients to be created as a postal or a physical address? 7. Make sure everyone checks spellings if they are unsure. When in doubt, ask client or Google it. 8. Make rules for creating new tabs or Custom Objects (as salesforce.com CRM calls them.) Every time a new Custom Object is needed, it should first be approved. 9. Ensure that email addresses are put in correctly. Basic but common mistake! 10. Set up procedures, if not supported by your crm software, of how to create records from inbound emails.
Bar Charts Come Alive through Data Visualization Written by Joe Miller
Bar charts have always been one of simplest means of conveying information, even somewhat complex information. Bar charts take into account at least two variables and have become one of most useful tools in corporate reporting. Budget plans, market reports, comparative analysis reports on products or locations, and many other sets of information are communicated within simple, yet informational displays of bar charts.
As businesses grow more and more complex, business reporting needs tend to also grow more and more complex, and bar charts have had to keep up. Happily, technology has combined with simple bar charts to create interactive bar charts. In other words, one bar taken from any number of bar charts may represent a general statistic. In “drilling down,” or clicking on that bar, more detailed information is displayed to elaborate one what original bar represented. This interactive technology is called Data Visualization.
Data visualization uses .net technology to make bar charts interactive. Multiple levels of information are now accessible through a single bar of a bar chart. For example, Company C is a nationwide corporation reviewing a sales report comprised of bar charts. Normally poster boards are brought in and displayed one at a time, indicating overall sales for entire company across quarters of year. Then sales information is broken down by regions, then by states, then by counties, then by cities, then by specific store. This results in a lot of poster board shuffling.