Stories by David Taber

CRM: How to find the right analytics tool

CRM systems typically have a built-in reporting engine, and some are pretty amazing considering they're driven entirely by browser-based wizards. Most systems have some sort of dashboard system that gives executives a little eye-candy.
Nevertheless, it won't be long before you need to go beyond the internal reports.

Written by David Taber21 Nov. 09 22:00

The fixed price is not right

Imagine a CRM consulting project with inadequately specified requirements, no clear internal project manager, and ill-defined success criteria. Your consultant bids it on a time and materials (T&M) basis. You're in a rush, no time for a detailed RFP - you know the consultant can do the job, but you need a budgetary number to get approval. We've all been through this drill: somebody brilliant suggests that this has to be fixed price, it'll be easier to get project approval and manage to conclusion that way. You know, just like it would be when buying servers.
But you're not buying servers: you're buying services. While 80 percent of CRM projects are formulaic and could be bid as a "standard project," the other 80 percent of the project work is not only a one-off, but an unknown. Nobody actually knows the requirements, or the ramifications of "something simple," or the shape of your data, or the tricky parts of external interfaces. You may think you're signing up for a three-hour tour, but you're on the way to Gilligan's Island.

Written by David Taber02 Nov. 09 22:00

Don't let CRM leads die prematurely

Even if you're not a Monty Python fan, "Bring out your dead" from The Holy Grail movie is a sick but funny sequence. That vignette is surprisingly relevant to how you handle leads in your CRM system.
Most leads are declared dead too early. Many a sales rep will give up on a lead after a couple of emails or phone calls. All too often, reps don't even go that far, declaring leads as unqualified without even having a conversation with the individuals. The irony here is that the reps will scream for more leads after having preemptively dropped 70 percent or more of the leads that were presented to them.

Written by David Taber26 Oct. 09 22:00

When CRM leads lie

The business purpose of CRM is to capture new customers more quickly, grow them more predictably, and keep them as loyal repeat customers. A CRM system should streamline the revenue business process and make every revenue dollar more profitable. And it will - providing you focus on optimising the overall revenue business process, not individual point measurements like "new leads".
"If you can't describe what you are doing as a business process, you don't know what you are doing"-- W. Edwards Deming.

Written by David Taber10 Aug. 09 22:00

The hidden enemy of CRM projects

Any big software project is vulnerable to the evils of scope creep. Project estimates are wrong, new requirements are added, and the next big bang release falls farther off schedule and out of budget. What are the specific tactics that can lower the impact of scope creep in CRM systems?
CRM systems are different from most other enterprise applications. While some requirements are non-negotiable, there is far more room for redefining requirements and deploying functionality in an incremental way. This means CRM systems can use a "by-the-drink model" of investment, rather than the "bet-the-farm model" characteristic of traditional enterprise software.

Written by David Taber27 July 09 22:00

The nine dirty secrets of CRM exposed

CRM products have been around for more than 20 years, The SaaS vendors have been selling their CRM wares for nearly a decade. Despite all that experience, powerful myths and misconceptions about CRM still can catch customers by surprise. While much of this article's advice applies to any CRM system, we've focused on the specifics of SaaS systems such as Salesforce CRM.
1. The CRM system is less important than the data it holds. Even with all the most marvelous features, a CRM system without real users and real customer-facing data is just an empty shell. Don't be hypnotized by features and CRM functionality; instead, fixate on the credibility of the data asset building within it.

Written by David Taber09 July 09 22:00

Six areas to watch out after rolling out

By now, most organisations have used some sort of a SaaS application, so there's familiarity with the basics of hosted software. But CRM applications are by their nature much more likely to be integrated with other business-critical applications, either behind your firewall or in hosted data centers, so they present some new challenges. Furthermore, applications with really rich web-services APIs (such as Salesforce CRM) can surface operational, policy, and process issues in your IT organisation.
Given all this change, where should you as CIO concentrate after rollout? Here's some practical advice. While much of this article applies to any SaaS CRM system, we've focused here on the specifics of

Written by David Taber23 June 09 22:00

What your CFO needs to know about

Finance departments must be involved in major procurement decisions, to make sure the business case is done properly. They need to set aside CAPEX allocations and understand the ongoing consequences for OPEX budgets. They need to know what the new system can do for them (if anything), and how the new system will integrate with existing systems of record in the company.
Whether your finance department is a one-man band or a big organisation, they need to understand how SaaS applications (and particularly Salesforce CRM) change a lot of the financial assumptions. What issues do you need to think about? What new decisions will you have to make? How should you measure success? Here are some CFO guidelines for making better decisions. While much of this article applies to any SaaS CRM system, we've focused here on the specifics of

Written by David Taber17 June 09 22:00

CRM on the cheap

Your company knows that it wants a serious CRM system. But the CFO, nervous about the costs, starts to suggest strategies that could keep things under control.

Written by David Taber28 April 09 22:00