The market landscape is continuously morphing. The notion that a business strategy will suitably serve the firm for a period of time is fast giving way to continuous evolution to enable firms to adapt and course-correct to meet the needs of the market at any point in time. Correspondingly, a firm’s approach to business development must adjust too. So you must incessantly review your strategies for relationship management, client engagement and business development.
On a tactical level, this means that you must regularly re-position the firm’s approach to CRM in the organisation to ensure that the business development and commercial strategies are tightly aligned to the over-arching goals of the organisation. Contrary to common belief, re-positioning of CRM is not simply for when the project is lagging.
Here are some areas to consider when trying to re-position InterAction/CRM in sync with changing business requirements:
- The flag bearers – Like for most initiatives, leadership and dedicated team plays a major role in communicating the business rationale of InterAction top-down in the firm, helping create excitement for CRM and driving a new way of doing things. Secure a project sponsor – ideally ‘C’ level executive/partner; and a project team comprising of senior managers right down to IT executives, junior members of the firm and personal assistants. They will serve as the vanguards on all aspects of the project.
- The good, the bad, the ugly – Take your time to assess what the previous objectives were, how InterAction is set up, how it is being used, where it’s working, areas it falls short on, what the level of usage is of individuals across roles – i.e. partners, fee earners, personal assistants, etc. This re-evaluation is essential to determine what changes should be made for the future.
- Keep it simple and make it relevant – Make it easy for users to use the system, especially when you make changes in InterAction that perhaps require a slightly different way of doing things in the organisation. For instance, you might add key performance indicators for fee earners within the system because you have assigned new business and client engagement related goals to them. Because this requires them to input into InterAction every time they meet with a client, configure the system so that it allows them to easily record their activity.
- Spring clean – Poor data quality completely negates the benefit of the discipline. A single, up-to-date repository of data is essential to ensuring accuracy and integrity as well as user adoption. They must have confidence in the information that resides in InterAction. Close down additional data sources and entry points, and put in place processes for continual data management. For instance, InterAction offers an in-built data management tools such as a ‘data change management inbox’ where staff can protect and centrally maintain data.
- Stay current – With so many vendors adopting agile and continuous development processes, the software lifecycle is ever-shortening. This makes systems upgrades essential. The underlying technology is constantly changing and every new version of InterAction accommodates those upgrades so that the system works efficiently – in addition to the availability of new functionality, which again is advantageous to users and often encourages adoption. Perhaps agree with your IT department that at no point in time, will the firm be more than two versions behind on an upgrade.
- A single view – Configure the system so that delivers it value to users on a day to day basis. There is tremendous benefit in putting the CRM discipline at the heart of your firm. For example, think about integrating InterAction with your billing system. Information on relationship strength with clients combined with the billing status and pointers to where potential organic growth could come from will boost fee earner and partner adoption. Similarly, integrating InterAction with your document management and human resource systems will streamline operation, delivering productivity benefits to users and the firm overall.
- Training isn’t a one size fits all – Not only make training mandatory and frequent, but also customise it for different roles and individuals. A fee earner’s requirement is different to that of support staff to that of a data steward. Prior to determining the training programme, run an audit to determine who the key users of the system are, what their CRM requirements are and what kind of training they would like to help them truly leverage the discipline for their personal goals. Some prefer one-on-one training over group sessions and some might want hands-on training to fully grasp the system. Also, offer training on an ongoing basis – overtime, users become more advanced in their use of the system, and new features and functionalities become available. Regular training will ensure that the system is leveraged to its full capacity.
- Dazzle with tips and tricks – Think about instituting a monthly newsletter that tells users of a new tip or trick that might help them with reporting or managing the new business pipeline or any such thing. Highlight anecdotes where a user may have had success due to his or her use of InterAction – perhaps a lead for a new piece of work, benefit of using the solution when at an event on the hoof, and the like. Knowing that colleagues are benefiting from the system provides confidence in the system and encourages adoption – which in turn helps with executing the articulated business strategies.
In doing the above, you will not only make CRM and InterAction simple to use and relevant, but crucially you will ignite a new way of working and make the tool strategic and integral to your firm’s operation.