Home » Articles » Avoiding Everest: How Customizing CRM Yourself Can Lead to More Bang for Your Buck

When buying and customizing CRM, clients often think they need the next best thing. They imagine spending massive amounts to achieve amazing results. They’re dazzled by the golden bells that jingle and miss the bigger picture — and end up with disappointing results.

Indeed, a full 33 percent of CRM projects fall short. And often, the root cause is poor planning. Companies tackle mega-projects that end up taking years to complete – or that never come to fruition.

Having done many implementations over the years, I’ve heard my share of far-fetched, difficult and expensive requests. In many cases, however, clients were able to achieve what they initially asked for a lot more inexpensively, quickly and effectively by using simple techniques. That includes using their CRM’s built-in customization settings, designed to help ordinary users personalize their experience with minimal effort.

Coming up with a reasonable scheme of work

Don’t get me wrong. There can be excellent reasons for doing a lengthy customization. Say you have a task that requires exacting data capture under a tight time-frame. In rare cases like that, where you can’t make mistakes, it makes sense to build out a custom UI. In most cases, however, you should try to keep things simple.

There are many projects that appear to have value – but that can actually demand huge quantities of work and lead to inefficiencies.  For example, many companies want to spend a lot of time on screen design, believing that for every task, there needs to be a screen. Others are quite rightly interested in reporting. But they envisage a sophisticated tool churning out stacks of paper reports – a very outdated (not to mention wasteful) method.

Getting your CRM up and running successfully ultimately entails striking a balance between high levels of automation and customization, and coming up with a realistic scheme of work. Just because something can be done – even in an elegant and automated way – doesn’t mean you have to do it that way.

Sometimes, even old fashioned methods work best. One request I’ve gotten is to digitize a whiteboard on a wall with the names of engineers and the days of the week across it. It’s a way for colleagues to see at a glance on a massive display who’s available. But if the whiteboard already works great and is cost-effective – do you need to computerize it?

The value of personalizing your CRM

While customers ask for many ambitious features at the outset of an implementation, most end up using their CRM for basic things including:

  •        Data centralisation & segmentation
  •        Lead generation and lead handling
  •        Qualification, deal progression and pipeline management
  •        Customer satisfaction, support and enquiry handling
  •        Dashboards, analysis and reporting

Most of these objectives can be achieved using your all-in-one CRM’s standard interface – with perhaps, a bit of configuration. Built-in functions like user-defined fields, key field groups and saved searches should let you tailor your CRM to do what you need to do with relatively little effort.

For all these features – no programming is required! Unlike creating a new screen, you don’t have to insert a new form, put controls on it, and then test everything over and over again to ensure all the buttons and actions work as they should. There’s fewer moving parts, and thus less chance of things breaking.

Plus, there are big advantages to performing these customizations yourself. For instance, implementation shouldn’t stop after you set up your CRM and migrate your data. It’s ongoing – with constant tuning to ensure things work smoothly and periodic assessments to check whether your objectives have changed.

Having set up your solution, you become the expert. Thus you won’t need to engage another expert for further coding and functionality when you need to make adjustments. Instead, you can do things yourself, saving a lot of time, money and worry that might otherwise be spent on third-party consultants.

In the end, the best way to achieve outstanding results is often the simplest.

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