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Are the people working on your system Certified? March 10, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Training.
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Beetle 700 by 438

As a young chap I had a 50cc motorcycle and then upgraded to a VW beetle, both of which I serviced myself, using the manual, plus some hints from my Dad I was able to change the plugs, adjust the timing and replace all the filters etc.

However today if I look under the bonnet of a new car, I can hardly recognise anything, and am sure that if I had a go with some spanners, screwdrivers and other tools I would make a really big mess. I therefore assume that the technicians at the garage actually know how to interact with this new technology.

Software has now reached an interesting juncture, products such as Microsoft CRM are now exceptionally complex with many very deep layers of functionality and when it comes to ERP systems such Microsoft Dynamics NAV again there is a staggering amount of capability inherent in these systems.

The software manufacturers are doing a wonderful job of trying to make complex software easy to use and intuitive. Hiding menus seems to be one of the methods that are used, the experts however do know how to get in behind the scenes.

On a smaller scale, just take for example Microsoft Word, how many of you have actually clicked on every menu at the top and investigated every single functionality? The product is bristling with features that many are just unaware of, unless you have taken an advanced course, or like me curiosity has made you go looking at all of the menus.

This brings me onto the subject of certification, to really get the best out of your CRM or ERP software you really need to be dealing with people who are certified in the product. I also encourage the end users of these systems to undertake advanced user training themselves. It’s not quite the same certification needed by your local doctor and not really a matter of life and death. However as is the case with my high tech motor vehicle, I feel much better when I realise that a certified person is actually doing the work, especially when he is working on the brakes.

 

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Rapid Growth Syndrome February 12, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Change Management, Management, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Training.
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Who moved my Cheese

Many of us have experienced this, working for a small innovative business where the sum of all the energy is transformed into great products or exceptional services. This requires the organisation to grow, hiring even more innovative and creative people and the cycle continues.

The business is growing, and then suddenly some of the processes seem to no longer work, and one solution is to throw people and resources at it, employ a HR person to handle all the interviews, Employ project managers to manage all the projects implement a CRM system etc. and before you know it the business is transforming from the small clique of initial staff members into a company structured organisation.

Very often this is happening in an industry where there are a number of other companies in the same market all facing the same issues and all growing simultaneously, (like the dotcom boom) so why do some succeed and other fail to gain the traction needed to progress?

One has to look at how well they managed the “Rapid Growth Syndrome” and there are a number of key aspects to evaluate.

Among other things this syndrome affects People, Process and Technology.

People

Are the management hires suitable, qualified and flexible enough to work within a rapidly changing environment?

One needs to ask the following hard questions if you are promoting one or some of the original staff members into these newly created management positions. Are they capable to hold these positions? Will this stifle their creativity? And more importantly do they have the experience and temperament to manage staff? Sometimes the really creative people just don’t want to do those roles, however as the business is growing they are compelled to take on these responsibilities rather than have an outsider come in and suddenly become their manager.

Process

Suddenly with a large influx of staff, some at a junior level, will come the implementation of rules, where in the early days the core group might go out for long lunches or take some time out to be very creative now this process and activity is frowned upon and sometimes actively discouraged as it is setting an incorrect precedent for new staff.

Business processes need to be put in place and followed, some of the start-up entrepreneurs that I have known over the years are dreadfully poor at paperwork and are happy to admit this openly. They cannot be seen to flaunt the new processes which are being implemented generally to streamline and keep the business efficient, so they leave and create another startup.

Technology

With growth comes the realisation that data needs to be captured, processes need to be in place to use and manage systems. Therefore there is often a requirement for some new systems, be they CRM, ERP, Manufacturing, Time Keeping or whatever. The implementation of any system needs to be well thought out (even if delivered in an agile manner) and if the new system is going to be that important, it is vital that its implementation does not impose constraints on the business.

In my solution consulting role I visit many organisations and therefore have first-hand experience of this syndrome at work. It’s a balancing act and there is no silver bullet. A deep understanding of change management is probably the most important element. Remember this is not new, this has been going on for years and there are plenty of case studies of organisations that experienced this, therefore is still amazes me to see organisations falling into these traps and making the same mistakes all over again.

See this very good article on how slack time can aid innovation https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-slack-time-so-important-innovation-phil-mckinney?trk=hp-feed-article-title-like )

But back to the central point, why do some succeed and others fail? I believe that adaptability is probably the major key along with the propensity to continually innovate, this still needs to be deeply inculcated into the culture of the business even as it grows.

In one organisation where I worked we provided all staff with a copy of the book “Who moved my cheese” by Spencer Johnson which is a really good business parable on change management and adaptability. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Moved_My_Cheese%3F we were able to see a marked improvement in the acceptance of some of the changes we were implementing as the business grew.

And to quote Haw from the book, “If you do not change, you can become extinct”.

 

Training Distractions May 25, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft CRM 2015, Training.
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In the last few weeks I have attended a training course and have also run a few small training courses. I am continually amazed by the capability of people to disengage and just start looking at their mobiles when someone is speaking, and for both the course I undertook and the courses I have given, individuals were also looking at personal items on their PC’s as well as business e-mails instead of listening to the lecturer and following the on screen activities.

I always ask participants to “please switch off your phones” however I am not in a position to order them to do so. The canny user switches it to vibrate, and then once they have received a message, tweet or other communication will surreptitiously have a look when they think I am not watching. There are some trainees that are worse than others and I just wonder how much they are actually comprehending from the training session. There are other offenders who just blatantly look at the device with no pretence about what they are doing.

Once they have read the e-mail, text message or social media posting, they cannot cognitively “Unsee” or “Unread” what they have read, and often the focus is gone. You can see it the eyes, they have disengaged.

We live in a world where people expect answers to e-mails and other messaging almost immediately, however that is what Out of Office was designed for, you can send a message stating that you are not available, if even for 3 or 4 hours. The same applies to the phone, it is very easy to change the voice mail, make it relevant for the day and inform the caller that you are not available.

As far as reading and monitoring social media pages. I can’t make any sensible suggestion other than to urge them to desist.

Some of the system training courses that I deliver involve the use of complex and sophisticated software and it is in the interest of the participant to try and understand as much as possible in the often abbreviated time that I am given to impart this knowledge due to budget constraints.

Many folk look at software in the same way that they look at Excel and Word, reasoning to themselves “This should be easy” and therefore are absorbing the very minimum of what they need to know in order to get by. But here is the gotcha; You don’t know what you don’t know, and if you don’t listen on the course or read the manual or view the online training material you may not be fully conversant with the functionality that you really need to understand.

The downside of all of this is sometimes the person who has been trained actually feels short-changed when after the allotted time they do not actually have the full understanding that they thought that they would. Sometimes the trainer gets it wrong the course is at fault, however the participants really have to ask themselves the question “Did I give a full 100% effort and understanding to this training course?”

More information on why CRM projects fail April 7, 2013

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Management, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Office, Sales Management, Training, XRM.
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I read an interesting blog today on Why CRM Project Fail by Mark Smith the nzCRMguy

http://www.nzcrmguy.com/msdyncrm/people-are-resistant-to-change?vid=3ef83918-be63-4fff-943f-66d86754fc16,1147

And although in principle I agree with the four main reasons Mark outlined, I think that not to offend modern sensibilities and rock the management boat, has meant that one of the other real main reasons for pure CRM sales project failures, Weak or Poor Management is often not tabled as a reason or not even talked about.

(Generally I am not talking about complex XRM implementations, but CRM as it is used to support sales and service organisations which also have a high failure rate).

I have been implementing CRM systems since 1985, I have seen all kinds of failures, and over time have seen one common thread. A little bit of the tail wagging the dog.

A sales persons’ job is to go out get orders, process the orders, handle customer queries etc. and these are things that you would expect your sales team to do in order for them to keep their jobs and keep on getting paid. It probably also means that you would not tolerate them writing offensive e-mails to customers, looking at porn on the company network and generally not doing what they are asked to do.

Using systems is and should be part of the job, end of story. Most employees use Outlook or a mail program and are expected to use Word if they need to create letters and documents. If a sales person does not hand in an order for a product, or issue a quote to a customer, there are generally consequences.

So how come we get into the situation where the sales person does not bother to enter a Lead, or complete an Opportunity or starts getting stroppy and starts complaining that the new CRM system is different, too difficult to use and they don’t like it, and so won’t use it? And the project fails!

The only reason is: They are allowed to get away with it, and that unfortunately points to weak or ineffectual management. Certainly we want user involvement, all working together with the project team, making sure that adequate training is given, and the fundamentals of change management are considered during the process, however if at an individual level, a staff member just elects not to use the system, they are and probably should be in violation of their employment agreement. And action should be taken.

In one of my previous blogs I talked about the management at a large bank where I implemented CRM. We issued a mantra, “If it is not in CRM it did not happen”. Staff who forgot to enter sales calls that they actually had made, ended up not getting bonuses as they had not met their KPI. Which was, everything you do you enter in CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is easy to use, and with the Outlook Client, it does not take extensive training. The system can be an exceptional tool for a motivated and energetic sales person, and will give management tremendous business intelligence information, and really should be embraced.

A little bit of management leading by example also can be quite helpful.

If I was spending money on a system, there would have to be much more of a reason than “The staff don’t like change” for me to allow my management team to just bend over and give up.

Making better use of Tasks in Microsoft CRM March 4, 2013

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Management, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Office, Sales Management, Training.
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Using Outlook Tasks

 As a young man I spent some time in the army before I started my commercial career, I was operating as an operations officer in a tactical headquarters, where lots of orders, activities, actions and tasks were all happening simultaneously. I had a very astute commanding officer who introduced me to the concept of To-Do Lists and effective task management, all very important when for example you are coordinating an air strike or vectoring in artillery. Everyone in the ops room always needed to know the status of all tasks at all times.

When I undertake CRM training, I find that very few people are actually using Outlook Tasks effectively, and when you consider that Microsoft CRM fully integrates with Tasks, it makes it very important that prospective CRM users start using tasks especially when the system is set up to generate tasks.

If tasks are generated for people, and they just don’t see them or respond to them, mainly because they don’t open tasks as regularly as they do e-mail or calendars, I find that sometimes it makes more sense to use CRM to generate an e-mail as well as the task, and embed a link to the task in the e-mail. We know that people are less likely to ignore e-mails and the tasks will get done.

Another method of managing tasks is to build a view within the dashboard of all open tasks and make this visible to management. This is similar to the process we used in the army, where everyone could see the status of each order or activity, albeit we did it manually on a large board on the wall. it’s a sort of name and shame.

Just because your users are not currently power users of tasks, is not a reason to not consider using them in the design of your CRM system.

This is blog number 7 in the series “The more things change the more they stay the same”.

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