What’s In Your CRM Junk Drawer?

The idea of saving extra parts and pieces because we are not sure what to do with them right now, but because we believe they may be useful someday is nothing new.  For some of us recycling and reuse is a way of life where there is a mindful effort to find a use for everything and nothing stays in the junk drawer for very long.  For others, it is only when the junk drawer becomes full to the point of overflowing that they begin to sort through the contents or find another drawer to take over.   Many of us fall somewhere in the middle; we eventually find uses for some stuff in the drawer, but we do not make a concerted effort to evaluate, organize or use the contents of the drawer.

CRM solutions typically have two major categories of stuff in the junk drawer:  data and form design.  Reliable data enables efficient, impactful business processes and is critical for making informed decisions.  Scrubbing data often consumes many hours during CRM implementations. We all recognize the importance of data integrity and most of us spend at least some time keeping data out of the junk drawer.   Approaches to keeping data out of the junk drawer range from enforcing data entry standards to subscribing to services which provide up to date details on current and prospective customers.  Hardly a day goes by that there is not a new blog, article or podcast discussing “big data;” this is not one of them.

The focus of this article is the second major category of stuff in your CRM junk drawer – form design.   The elements of form design that may end up in your CRM junk drawer include unused fields on the form and the layout of the form.  During your CRM implementation, chances are some time was devoted to updating option sets, adding custom fields to out of the box forms and creating forms for custom entities.   In a typical implementation, little if any time is spent on removing out of the box fields from forms.  A few of the reasons I have encountered for this during implementations are:

  • We don’t use some of the out of the box fields today, but we may someday
  • There is a lack of consensus across teams regarding what fields are needed
  • We can just ignore the fields we don’t need
  • We will make fields business required or business recommended to guide data entry
  • We would rather use the time it would take to remove fields from forms on scrubbing data

We all recognize the need to have fields on the forms to capture information to support our business processes.  The layout of those fields on the forms in CRM impacts user efficiency and user adoption.  It makes sense to group fields into sections based on categories of information in a manner that fosters readability, but in doing so we sometimes neglect to consider the order in which the information will be entered by a user.  As a result, your users may have to tab multiple times or scroll & click to find and populate the required fields when creating a new record.

Banishing the form design junk from your CRM junk drawer is typically a low effort/high impact endeavor.  The flexibility of Dynamics CRM offers multiple options to meet the needs of your business processes:

  • Form customization:  Through form customization you may reduce the need to tab, scroll and click by changing the order of the fields on the form, adding or removing sections, or removing unused fields.
  • Creation of role based forms:  Role based forms allow you to present a form which is designed specifically for the user’s role.
  •  Process specific dialogs to guide customer interactions and data entry:   Dialogs guide the user through the interaction with the customer and update the form with the information captured.

 Call to Action

As your business processes evolve, update your use cases for out the box and custom entities to include data entry as well as readability.

If you are a CRM system administrator, observe a cross section of your users in action to identify stuff in your CRM junk drawer.

If you are a CRM user, provide your system administrator with examples of scenarios where you suffer through excessive tabbing, clicking or scrolling.  In addition, keep your CRM system administrator in the loop as your business processes evolve to make certain CRM supports the revised business process.

If you have questions about cleaning out your CRM junk drawer or for more information on leveraging your business relationships visit our CRM page.

This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights.