This will be a 4 part series to guide you through identifying and analyzing your business processes today and the way to implement a strategic solution which will set you up for future growth.
While implementing a CRM, or another software program, this is the time to enhance and expand upon your current system capabilities, cleanse your records and to consider methods in which processes have failed in the past or should have performed better. CRM software provides a 360-view of your client, their current interests and potential growth. Ensuring that these records are accurate on Day 1 and maintained in a well timed fashion is vital. We’re going to walk through a few steps that can be taken throughout the planning and requirement phase to mitigate mistakes early on.
Discovering what areas within your organization are reliant on the application and who the Users are is the first step in determining useability. In the case of a CRM, many times, the Sales and Marketing teams are a great starting point. Operations and Accounting can have permissions to read only data and/or export functionality so it’s vital to find out:
This discovery process impacts not only who uses the application, what Users have access to and how current data is received but also the length of time the data may need to be retained.
Once the Users of the application and data has been identified, it’s important to understand what data is required and what data is optional or nice to have. Creating a data dictionary that consists of all data fields required, optional or recommended as well as the status of each data element can help determine the prioritization of how you’ll approach your implementation. For example, the Name Field is a required field and has an Active use status with a current last update date; however physical Business Address may be an optional field and only in use for a handful of clients. The Business Address field can have a status of Inactive or the last update date could be years prior to now.
All data should probably be retained or archived for at least a year but based on the nature and characteristics of the data, it may need to be stored for 7 years or more, depending upon regulatory requirements. Understanding what internal and external audit requirements are is also imperative to a successful implementation.
Also, data can be received from internal and/or external applications by receiving a feed or call/answer feature that populates the data fields and makes it available to Users. In addition, once data is received sometimes Users have the capability to manually override the data field. Rule validations and error checks may also be in place to help protect the integrity of the data. Understanding how data is being received, where it’s coming from and whether it is editable will be impactful to the success of the migration.
Lastly, data can be “real time” or “live” or can be received via batch so understanding the timing of the data is crucial.
Data Integrity is a key component of your organization’s bottom line but so is data retention and disaster recovery. There are four phases of disaster recovery:
Work with your technology counterparts and service providers to ensure your SLA’s for recovery time are clearly defined. Put policies and procedures in place to protect your organization against potential failures (internally and externally).
When you identify a “Day in the Life” for your Users, try to determine whether the processes are optimal and provide the most efficient use of resources and time. There are many modules within a CRM that can be used to create better communication both internally and externally, such as task tracking and follow up. Sometimes, when a new application is implemented, not all of the functionality is put to use. It’s important to understand what’s not being used due to system limitations and define those system limitations as well as manual processes that are in their place. Oftentimes, functionality isn’t used because it entails a change to the workflows.
Once most of the items mentioned above have been flushed out, a clearer picture of your current state should be evident. You’ll understand what data is in use today, how it’s maintained and protected. Next, the workflows and processes need to be clearly defined in both the Business and Technology pieces.
Think about the manual processes in place today and whether they can be automated with existing functionality or that will be available in the most recent version of the software.
Create data workflow mappings between what is currently done and then do the same for the future state. Imagine optimizing a solution that not only fits your world today but in the next five years. Visualize how your organization can grow or possibly move in another direction where you’d still be able to leverage the build out. Also, solutions should be clearly identified and designed to prepare not only for future growth but also scale back, if necessary.
Users should be exposed to the new software sooner rather than later. Engaging Users early on provides not only time for adjustment but also provides an opportunity for Users to become active in the project and buy-in. Engaging Users and training them should run parallel with implementing and rolling out new software and this can be done in a few different ways.
After gathering current state requirements, provide a demo of the new software. Walk through it’s core functionality as well as some of its features and provide some of their “Day in the Life” activities as examples throughout the demo. This allows them to not only learn about the new software but creates relatability into their activities and how they’ll be impacted. This also helps facilitate new ideas and thinking into how their worlds can change for better or worse.
Training can be done in a combination of ways – visual, auditory and tactile or hands on. After providing a demo of the new software and its features, Users can then be given credentials to log into a training environment to familiarize themselves and/or walk through functionality test scripts. Group training sessions can also be held where each user will use the system and walk through scenarios with the trainer. This is an effective process at not only bringing teams up to speed but also flushing out issues and/or defects which mitigates risk down the line.
Having the most recent version of the software not only allows your systems to perform better and be more secure but you’ll also receive resolution patches for defects. Your organization can determine to opt in and install the patch or opt out. Implementing a patch though takes analysis and planning and it’s quite similar to a full blown software implementation. In addition to testing the patches “corrected functionality”, all existing functionality needs to be regression tested to ensure nothing broke or acts differently. Stay abreast of versioning, its new functionality, defect remediation and make informed decisions as to whether it makes sense implementing patches or waiting for the next full version of the software. Just don’t get too far behind on versions as it could add to the project timeline when you do decide to upgrade.
In the classic interface, you were able to page between open records in a view by using the small up/down arrow in the upper-right corner of the record. At first glance, that feature is missing from the unified interface. Keep reading to see how Microsoft modified this feature in the new UI.
One of the coolest new features in the Unified Interface is the ability to view any record with a date/time field in a Calendar format using an out-of-the-box “Calendar Control” that you can set up from a View. In the example below, we’ll set up a Calendar Control for activities. Read more
If you’re missing the “My Apps” navigation item from the Settings menu, you’re not alone! Only a handful of clients have had this menu item available by default. You’ll want to access the “My Apps” page to set security roles for all unified interface apps. It’s also a great place to identify web apps vs unified interface apps. Keep reading to learn how to add this manually.
Since many organizations have moved over to the Unified Interface, one of the most popular questions we’ve received is, “How do I edit fields in a form header?”
It’s no longer possible to just click on the field/field contents to edit them, but it’s nearly as easy. Read more
For this post, I’m reposting an old tip on troubleshooting workflows with some new steps at the end for the Unified Interface. Unfortunately, Microsoft has not added the ability to view background processes and process sessions from a single record in the new UI yet, but hopefully this will be added in a future release.
If you’re unable to run Flows and background or real-time workflows from the new unified interface, fear not! The fix is simple. You’ll need to update a setting in the Dynamics admin center. Read more
As more and more organizations transition to the new user interface, you might find that some options for custom portals that were previously found in the Contact entity menu are missing or throwing errors. If you need to fix or add the “Change Password” or “Create Invitation” menu buttons, keep reading for a simple fix. Read more
As I use the new PowerApps designer more and more, I’m finding small touches here and there that really enhance the customization process (especially with larger-scale tasks). One of these minor-but-nice features is that you can easily tell what fields have been modified and created during your current session. By current session, I mean after you begin editing or creating fields, but before you hit “Save entity”. Read more