Is it time for a CRM renovation or a tear-down?
Many of the firms we work with have had their CRM systems for years or even a decade or more. They can likely still remember their CRM building process and original “move-in” day when they first bought the system (which hopefully didn’t require a mortgage) and migrated all their information in. At that point, their CRM system felt like the perfect place to be.
Integrate, renovate… or start over?
Sometimes a firm begins to get “growing pains.” Over time, these firms may have acquired a lot more “stuff” and may feel like they are outgrowing their CRM home.
So for some reason, one day about a year and a half ago, I decided that it would be a good idea to build a house. Not sure exactly why I thought adding this to my never-ending list of existing projects would be a smart thing to do (OK, perhaps my friends weren’t entirely wrong when they suggested that I was a bit of a type-A) but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Imagine the idea of having your dream house – designed exactly to your specifications. I’d finally get to have all the things I wished my current house had: more space,
CRM adoption has the greatest potential for a wreck. Having worked with almost a hundred firms to help them achieve and enhance CRM success over the last eight years, the biggest challenge we always seem to run into is CRM adoption. Firms consistently tell us that their CRM system is literally a ‘wreck’ due, in large part, to poor participation.
These firms frequently say that in the beginning of the CRM deployment, everything seemed to be running fine. They purchased the right system and implemented it without a hitch. The system was firing on all cylinders,
Herding your CRM users or “cats” toward full participation is a challenge. The beauty of a CRM system is that by gathering and maintaining the collective information of all CRM users, contacts can be kept updated across the organization. If an attorney receives updated information for his contact but simply modifies the contact information in Outlook, the new information doesn’t flow to everyone who shares that contact. If that attorney updates the information in the CRM, everyone receives the new information and everyone wins. That is, everyone who participates….
CRM Users Win with Full Participation, Contact and Relationship Sharing,
A common complaint is missing pieces of CRM contact data. This significantly reduces the value of the system for users and hinders CRM adoption. Let’s face it, it’s challenging enough to get people to actually use the system. When they finally do decide to go looking for information and can’t find it, it will be exponentially harder to get them to go there again.
What’s even worse is that, without complete CRM contact data, it can be challenging or impossible to communicate with your contacts – which is the whole reason most organizations bought the CRM system in the first place.
CRM orphan contacts require care.
There is nothing sadder than a poor, lonely little orphan – especially in your CRM system. When an “orphan” record is left in your CRM system and all the attorneys who once knew the contact are gone, the record is essentially abandoned. It’s left alone in a CRM world where relationships are so very important.
So what is a CRM caretaker to do? Well, start by regularly keeping watch for the these abandoned orphan records. It’s rare for them to be left prominently on your CRM doorstep. Instead, you must go looking for them.
Seeing dead people in your CRM system?
Many of us may remember that chilling quote from the movie The Sixth Sense. Seeing dead people in your CRM system can be almost as disturbing. Nothing is more likely to cause your CRM users to tune out and turn off than finding deceased contacts living on in your system.
Even more disturbing, these contacts are often known by multiple people in your firm – yet not everyone may be aware that the person has passed. So when the contact is removed from a mailing or event list,
To ensure data quality, focus on these key areas: manage changes in the status of contacts, adopt “orphans” left behind by attorneys, input missing data, and gain full participation and adoption.
Part 1: Degrading Data Quality
In today’s highly mobile markets, up to 30% of a firm’s CRM contact data can degrade each year. People get hired, fired, promoted and change jobs; they move and change addresses; they get married and divorced; some retire and a few die. This means that if you don’t pay attention to data quality, your end users will begin to distrust the data and,
What gets measured gets done, and this can certainly be said about “non-billable” activities in law firms. For anyone familiar with attorneys, this is not surprising. Busy lawyers are tasked with competing demands for their very valuable – and very limited – time. And for lawyers, time is money – literally. So when there is client work to be done, anything that takes away from billing often ends up being put off until they have time – which sometimes means indefinitely.
But as competition for work has increased recently, law firms are finally being forced to focus on the one non-billable activity that makes all the other billable activities possible: business development.
Are your people onboard with business development pipeline success? To ensure a successful outcome. the business development pipeline technology must first be supported at the highest leadership levels in the law firm. Next, there must be knowledgeable, well-trained people dedicated to inputting the data. Information has to be entered correctly, consistently and completely because bad data will undermine attorney trust. Additionally, resources have to be dedicated to ongoing data quality to ensure the data remains current over time, since up to 30% of a firm’s contact data can become outdated each year. Finally, there has to be a focus on system adoption.
Over the years, we have all heard way too many stories of CRM systems failing to meet expectations. What we don’t typically hear is that the reason why these systems didn’t meet expectations was often that the expectations were unrealistic. Indeed, people have been complaining about CRM systems for as long as…well, as long as there have been CRM systems (and these complaints are not limited to law firms.) Managing expectations is a key part of your CRM strategy.
CRM Strategy: Set Realistic Expectations
The main problem with CRM technology is that it’s just technology. It’s not a magic bullet.
Recently, some CRM product developers have begun building pipeline tools to meet the changing needs of law firms. A few years ago, Microsoft began offering a version of its Dynamics CRM through industry vertical resellers who configured the software specifically for law firms. This product, CRM4Legal, has since been acquired by Aderant. Two other companies have also released new offerings built on the Dynamics platform: Business Development Premier from Thomson Reuters and ProfessionalCRM from Consulting4CRM.
Leveraging Contacts and Relationships for New Opportunities
More recently, LexisNexis InterAction, the industry leading CRM for large law firms, began beta testing their new Business Development Module that should be released this year and has easy data entry,
When some larger firms with sophisticated marketing departments began to realize the limitations of spreadsheets years ago, they started looking for alternatives. But because the profession had not been focused on sophisticated business development tracking or technology in the past, there were not many choices of pipeline software available that could meet the specific needs of law firms.
So as an interim solution, some firms started testing CRM technology and software such as Salesforce to help overcome the limitations of spreadsheets. While these CRM systems included advanced pipeline functionality, unfortunately they didn’t make sense for a firm wide deployment.
This is where real pipeline software can help to take a law firm’s business development to the next level. A true business development pipeline allows opportunities to be entered and linked to related people and companies. Pipelines also allow for entry of additional information such as activities related to an opportunity, which can then be assigned to the individuals who need to complete them. Once all the data is entered, a pipeline can also provide a perpetual history of the activities that took place during the business development cycle and reminders for activities to keep advancing the opportunities forward.
Business Development Pipeline Yields Revenue Opportunities
Sophisticated business development pipelines can also help to predict deal outcomes and project expected revenue.
At its most basic, a pipeline is simply a way to track and report on business development efforts. Initially, when law firms began tracking business development opportunities, the original tool of choice was Excel. Even at some of the largest firms, lawyers often tended to gravitate to spreadsheets to track just about everything. There are several reasons: they are easy to use, they’re on the desktop, they allow you to enter almost unlimited information, and they can even be used to print detailed lists and colorful charts and graphs. As a result, for many firms, Excel was a good place to start building a basic business development pipeline.