Customer Database Management Best Practices
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This whitepaper will help you better manage your customer database projects so that you can avoid letting preventable problems derail your project. As leading CRM consultants and developers with ...

This whitepaper will help you better manage your customer database projects so that you can avoid letting preventable problems derail your project. As leading CRM consultants and developers with hundreds of implementations under our belt, Intelestream has a few tricks rolled up our sleeves.

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Customer Database Management Best Practices Document Transcript

  • 1. Managing a Customer Database Project 10 Best Practices to Make Your Life Easier As an IT professional responsible for managing a customer database project, you are likely to be very familiar with the challenges that come with the job. Typically your users have unrealistic expectations, your deadline was yesterday, and it is challenging to stay within budget. As a CRM professional services provider and developer of several customer database applications, Intelestream feels your pain. In order to make the process smoother, we have come up with some tips and tricks that will ensure any customer database project is a success. Top 10 things to make your life easier: 1. Plan Ahead. This first point may seem obvious, but a lot of projects are not planned very well. Make sure you understand the short, medium, and long term goals of the departments using the system. Make sure the business processes are mapped correctly against the proposed solution and that nothing is missing.  Conduct a business process workshop with each department. Compile a workshop deliverable that clearly outlines each business process.  After the business process workshop is complete, compile requirements into a requirements document.  Develop a detailed design document. Get sign-off from each department on the document.  Try to break the proposed design. By running the design through a process stress test, you ensure the design is complete. Work through all of the edge cases. 2. Manage Expectations. One of the challenges of managing a project is scope creep. Scope creep occurs when new requirements come into a project after it has already started. Business users will always ask for more things and request more features. It is important to push anything non- essential into a later phase.  Organize requirements into three groups: Essential, Nice to have now, Nice to have later.  Help reduce scope creep by clarifying with the business users what features will be in each of the phases. Make the stakeholders sign off on the feature set proposal. Intelestream, Inc. | 27 North Wacker Drive Suite 370 | Chicago, Illinois 60606 | Phone: 800.391.4055 | www.intelestream.net | info@intelestream.net © Intelestream, Inc. 2010
  • 2. 3. Select the Right Tool. Are you using the right tool? Often times we find clients who are using the wrong software application to try to manage a customer database system. It is important that you take advantage of existing applications that are specifically designed for this type of work. Perhaps the tool you are using is not robust enough or is designed for a different type of process. Make sure you research the various solutions available.  Do you need an ERP, CRM, Order Management System, or something completely different? Do your research and understand what is available.  Work with the business users to be flexible. The more flexible they are in their processes the more you can fit your business 90% of the way into one particular tool. This way you can just configure the other 10%. We have seen businesses make slight tweaks to their process and reduce cost dramatically while still getting the same end result. 4. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. Every business thinks their use case is unique. More than likely, 90% of your use case is covered in a business application such as intelecrm. Customize to meet the other 10%. Don’t build a system from scratch. You are probably not a software company and building a software application is not your line of business. Your IT resources should be focused on more central tasks and activities to their department.  Often times the urge is to build a system from scratch. After all this will ensure the system is 100% to what the business process is. While this is tempting, this is a recipe for disaster. Becoming a software company is not your department’s role or responsibility. 5. Involve the Business Users. Make sure business users are testing and trying the system as the project develops. Waiting until the system is in production to be the first time a business user sees the system is a recipe for disaster. It is a great idea to get several business users to do double data entry in both systems during testing. This allows issues to be discovered early and prevents surprises.  Force the business users to do double entry during the user acceptance stage. This will ensure the system meets their needs.  Business users should be involved during the entire process; after all it is this group of stakeholders who actually need to use the system.  Nominate one or two business users from each department to be involved in the project. Include them in meetings, requirements review, and design discussions. 6. A Phased Approach. Do not try to roll-out everything at once. When you have the full picture of business requirements, then you can slice them apart into workable phases. Better to deploy Intelestream, Inc. | 27 North Wacker Drive Suite 370 | Chicago, Illinois 60606 | Phone: 800.391.4055 | www.intelestream.net | info@intelestream.net © Intelestream, Inc. 2010
  • 3. smaller pieces that produce results and usable features than one big release at the end that falls short of expectations.  Break apart the design work into multiple short phases.  Shorter phases ensure new functionality is delivered often and users are kept happy. It also allows for course corrections more easily than delivering all at once. 7. Executive Sponsorship. It’s hard enough having all the business users make constant demands on the IT department. That is why it is even more important that the business executives are onboard with the scope and budget of the project. It is important that they become involved and understand the requirements, timeline, and help ensure the departments utilize the tools as required. Take the time to help them understand the reality of what needs to be done.  Without executive support you might as well stop the system and project entirely. Executives must provide support from a budgetary and enforcement standpoint. A system in which everyone refuses to use it is pointless. Executives can help ensure the system is properly utilized and adopted. 8. Subject Matter Experts. Customer database systems are often viewed as technology components when in reality technology only plays a small role in the system. The business processes are the core of the system. IT departments are amazing at a variety of different technical tasks and are also stretched thin. Organizations often do not have subject matter expertise on-staff for business process mapping resources. Having the correct advisors and consultants to help you understand your process and help you make better decisions is a key requirement.  Make a list of the various members of the IT team and list of the skills that each have related to business process mapping, process consulting, project management, and system implementation. Reach out to experts in the various practice areas to help augment your staff skills. 9. Focus on User Adoption. Your users will rarely be happy switching to a new system or using a system at all. It is up to you to make sure that users are properly trained and receive enough attention during a system rollout. Additionally, on-going training is essential for users to stay fresh on the system and are continuing to make the most of the tool. Executive support of the initiative and use of the system will help ensure success.  Training is the most important aspect of user adoption. Initial training and on-going training is essential.  Implement a “Voice of the Customer” program. Garner feedback from the users on an on-going basis to develop new phases of work. Intelestream, Inc. | 27 North Wacker Drive Suite 370 | Chicago, Illinois 60606 | Phone: 800.391.4055 | www.intelestream.net | info@intelestream.net © Intelestream, Inc. 2010
  • 4.  Making users feel like they are involved and their opinion matters will go a long way. Include your users in decision making when appropriate and help them as needed.  Intelestream has published a whitepaper dedicated to this subject. You can view it by visiting http://www.intelestream.net/en/whitepapers/crm-adoption.html. 10. Time is Limited. Your time is limited and in most scenarios, the customer database system is not the only project on your plate. This is why it is important to outsource as much as possible. One example is on-premise vs. on-demand. Does the application need to be on-premise or can it live in the cloud? The more tasks and responsibilities you free up the more time you can spend on the most critical aspects of the project.  Make a checklist of various responsibilities and tasks for the project. Make sure to include one-time and on-going. Decide which items can be outsourced and which to keep in-house.  Decide how much time each person in the IT department can dedicate each week to the project. Get sign-off from each team member to ensure the estimates are accurate. Then take the estimates and cut them in half to be even more accurate. Intelestream is here to help. We have hundreds of successful CRM implementations under our belt and have a proven track record of delivering on time and within budget. If you believe you would benefit from the involvement of expert consultants, give us a call at (800) 391-4055 to schedule a discovery workshop. Additional resources can be found on our website at www.intelestream.net. Intelestream, Inc. | 27 North Wacker Drive Suite 370 | Chicago, Illinois 60606 | Phone: 800.391.4055 | www.intelestream.net | info@intelestream.net © Intelestream, Inc. 2010