When you’re providing a service or set of services in a professional services organisation to a set of clients, one of the most important aspects of providing this service is to get as close to the client or function as you can. The more you can live and breathe their daily activity, the more likely you are to provide a better service. You need to get under the organisation’s skin. Specifically, you need to get to know its people as they’re the folk that will actually “buy” the service from you. All too often, the focus is on the function you are providing service for, rather than focusing on the people within that function or group.
As well as knowing what their business is trying to achieve so that you can assist them, it’s also as important to understand the personal drivers for that individual and how they relate to what the business is doing. So, how?
If you are responsible for gathering CRM requirements internally within a law firm, then don’t forget to ask why? And ask it lots! You need to know what the individual requirements may well look like, for sure, e.g. but you also need to understand the reasoning behind the request.
So, ask why! And when you’ve done that, ask it again and again….. and then again! Software solutions need to solve business/firm level problems to justify the investment. Without understanding the root cause, it’s often very difficult to get the response right. Often, what you may be comfortable with when discussing the requirement is the symptom of the problem, rather than the problem itself. For example, "I am increasingly having to add discounts on to my invoices" is the symptom, but the true issue is "I am not hitting my profitability targets". Don't settle for the symptom! A little way of remembering that you have got to the real "pain" is to ask "what bad things happen?"