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Business process is about 'relevance'

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If I was asked ‘why’ I use Microsoft Word, I’d say (like most people) to create documents quickly and easily and then save them for repeat use too. There is a reason for using the software. The same rationale applies to the use of any software – users must know 'why' they are using it.

Most firms have defined processes for key areas of business such as file opening, expense management, Helpdesk support and so on, but often business development is undertaken in an ad-hoc manner. With no or relatively ill-defined processes and strategy, CRM adoption becomes chaotic, and the results unpredictable.

Take opportunity management, if there are no processes to help identify ahead of time what new business opportunities might exist as a result of the marketing activity, every request for proposal that comes in is not only a surprise, but also a reactive exercise. On the other hand, clearly outlined and embedded processes that use a CRM system, enables the business development team to see where the opportunities originated from and therefore proactively plan for and execute on them. The same goes for programmes such as key client management, prospecting, referral management and any other business development initiative.

A lack of processes greatly impacts on user adoption too. It’s all about relevance – if you can’t map an activity back to a specific business process or strategic objective, it bears no importance to users, be they fee earners, senior management, partners or anyone else. Always be able to answer the questions "why do I have to do this" and "what do I get in return."

With business processes in place, CRM technology supports and facilitates the achievement of organisational objectives - both financial as well as the softer goals such as stronger client relationships and higher quality of engagement. Aside from being simply a contacts database, the processes allow the underlying intelligence in the system to be harnessed both internally for the business and externally for clients by devising best practice and ensuring continuous improvement in the way business development is undertaken. It also enhanced clients’ experience with individuals and the firm respectively.

For example, prior to a client review meeting, visibility of the account - from additional services delivered such as client education initiatives events and seminars attended by the client, through to matter progress - can potentially highlight opportunities and risks that exist with that client. This allows the partner conducting the review to convey the message: "You are my client and I’m keeping track of how we are servicing you and areas where you need help". Similarly, in a new business pitch situation, the team could be in a stronger position to negotiate - armed with intelligence of the actual cost of work and previous information on outcomes for similar pitches/proposals and hence the firm’s 'no-go' boundary.

With the CRM system serving as the central repository of information, the intelligence provides the insight to help with business modelling and change management to ensure that the organisation keeps pace with changing market and client requirements. The approach helps to deliver predictability to the business.

Processes should drive technology, not the other way round. Organisations often fall into this trap. Understanding and defining processes provides the foundation and must be the cornerstone of any system deployment and adoption, not just CRM.

Tags: InterAction

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