Last week, the National Air Traffic Control centre became the latest in a series of high profile system failures attributed to out of date or poorly tested software. Before this, customers of RBS and Nat West were on the receiving end of a corrupted software upgrade. This prevented millions of customers from accessing accounts and even extended the prison stay for one poor individual.
Like it or not, we are all dependent on software and have all at some time experienced the effects of system failures. For the average business, system failures are unlikely to be as extreme as the cases mentioned above, but they are nonetheless disruptive to the organisation and frustrating for users.
The problems may not always be catastrophic. In fact, complete system failures are in many ways the easiest to resolve, as it is evident when the system is restored. The more difficult thing for a business to do however, is to keep on top of creeping inefficiencies which can result either from technology of business process changes. These are the problems that often go unseen which can cost the business a lot in wasted effort and time and can sap staff morale. Out of date screens or poor workflow controls which cause a user a few seconds delay on a regular activity, will amount to hours of lost time and significant cost over the course of a year.
Nowhere is this more evident than in a CRM application. Because it is so fundamental to a business, shortcomings in a CRM that hasn’t kept pace with business needs, quickly become the source of user frustration, often leading to a general loss of confidence and a belief that the CRM software is at fault. This is the point at which a company goes off in search of a new system which they believe will meet their needs more effectively.
The truth, of course, is often that the old system was perfectly fit for purpose, but nobody had the time or knowledge of how to examine the business needs and adapt the system to suit. The business then takes on an expensive new development only to be surprised to find themselves back where they started sometime later. Having seen this time and time again, we have come up with the following pointers to help a business to maintain an effective CRM.
- Ensure that the CRM system has visible business support from senior management. If the management don’t believe in the benefits of CRM the users won’t either.
- Have a sensible budget for ongoing system development. Business needs can change rapidly, so there should be funds available to make relevant changes to the system.
- Provide a method for users to easily report system issues and let it be seen that these are being attended to.
- Have a formal annual system review that looks at current and projected requirements. This should result in a written development plan.
- Keep software up to date. New product features often provide additional benefits or solutions to old problems.
- Don’t rely on IT to take the lead on new developments. It’s a business system which should be driven by those who understand the business issues.
- Test any changes thoroughly before deploying to the live system. Sage CRM allows the installation of a second instance that can be used for testing and rollback. Making changes directly to a live system is a very risky practice.
This all sounds very good in theory. However, for a company engaged in its day-to-day business it is easy to let these things slide, either through lack of time or knowledge. This is where using an accredited business partner like Loria makes sense. We keep our clients up to date with the latest developments in the software and provide solutions to problems in an objective way through ongoing support. This often brings many additional benefits to the business. If any of the points above are relevant to your business, please get in touch.