Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Taking Your Process from Demo to Reality

Today's blog post was written by Kristie Reid, VP of Consulting at Sonoma Partners.

If you have seen a demo of the leading CRM systems lately, no doubt you have seen some type of visualization of a sales or service process. This feature is usually a hit with any audience. But if you’re the administrator who has to implement what the business is getting so excited about, you may be cringing and asking how you are ever going to implement what you are seeing.  I can assure you, the technical implementation of a process flow is not that hard. But gathering consensus for what that flow should be and taking the business requirements and tactically implementing them can prove to be a bit daunting. 

Step 1: Defining the Process Stages

If your company is like many that we work with, they have many teams who serve similar functions (for example, multiple sales regions). Those teams often think that they work very differently and cannot agree on a single process. That may be true. However, what we often find is that the foundation of what those various teams do to accomplish their goal is the same. But how do you get them to see that?

One approach that we use to find that common ground is the facilitation of Brown Paper Sessions. It’s exactly as it sounds. We throw large pieces of brown packaging paper on the wall and step through the various stages that the team walks through to achieve their goal using post-it notes. I know, it sounds silly for a technology company to be using paper to facilitate complex discussions with large groups of people but here are the benefits:

  • Brown paper and post-its are not intimidating (how many people use Visio on a daily basis?).
  • Post-its are not permanent. This allows the discussion to flow naturally and unstructured if the group you are working with does not think linearly. Post-its can be moved around as other thoughts come out.
  • Post-its are interactive. Post-it notes can be written and moved around by audience participators, not just the facilitator.
  • Brown paper makes for fantastic art! Okay, not really, but it can stay up and instigate conversation after the facilitation session is over (just remember to tape the post-its so that they don’t fall off).
  • Finally, the other option, typically Visio, is painful to watch someone manipulate in real time.

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Step 2: Validation and Buy In

Once you have the first process on paper (yes, brown paper), bring in other teams to validate that the process works for their groups as well. Have them work from the same paper that is still on the wall. We usually find that this is where the magic happens. Often the subsequent teams to review the process once defined find that there aren’t as many differences as they originally believed. You may find that there are times where it does not, and that’s okay. Add their variances directly to the paper on the wall.

Repeat this process with all groups who need to buy in to what will be implemented in a system.

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Step 3: Additional Details

As you are defining the main process, add the additional information that would be needed. For example, in Stage 1, what data must be collected? In Stage 3, what notifications must be sent to communicate the progress of the process? What data do users or managers need about that process?

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Step 4: Document, Document, Document

Okay, now you can use Visio! Time to take the brown paper off the wall and put it into electronic format (don’t forget to take pictures before removing the paper). Be sure to document key decisions made and to provide more details around the meaning of each step. Let’s be honest, even the people who were in the room making these decisions will forget what was said in a few months.

Step 5: Implementation

There is a lot of technical information available as to how to implement processes in a CRM application. Again, people reviewing CRM systems love the visual process flows available. However, not all process can be handled in chevrons. Make sure to follow best practices here. Also, as part of this implementation, don’t overlook the power of reporting that is available to show the effectiveness of the process being put in place.

Step 6: Leadership, Communication, and Training

Adding a process to any system without proper sponsorship, communication of the what’s and whys, and training on how to use the process will not have the results that you’re hoping for. We cannot stress enough how important the consideration of Change Management is. I also always recommend that a CRM system not be the reason new processes are put into place. That gives your users one more thing to blame on CRM. The reality should be that this process change is being put in place, here is why. CRM is just a tool to support that process change!

If you need help with business process documentation, redesign, or implementation, give us a call!

Topics: CRM Best Practices