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This Is Your Brain on CRM

by Aaron Wine on November 27, 2012

8 minute read

When I first started working at W-Systems last year, I was trained on the existing time management system that we had in place where we would clock our time on a third-party application. Then at the end of the day, (or in my case, at the end of the week), we would enter our time into our Sugar instance and thus be able to properly bill our customers for the awesome work we were doing.  After a couple of months, I was very comfortable using this system and I was able to get this process logged into my brain without needing to bother my reticular activating system.

The old time tracking system had several problems.  First of all, it was time-consuming.  I was using at least an hour a week putting in data.  Secondly, there was the threat of incorrectly describing the work being done as my old brain has taken a hit or two in the head.  These systemic failures were due to having to use two different systems to do one task of collecting information, basically doing double entry.

One of the beautiful things about working at W-Systems is that we are entitled as software engineers to make our world better. When there is a hole, we see opportunity, and so our team introduced an in-application for constructing our time entries.  Of course, when this was first introduced, I did not like it because it was something new and outside of my comfortable routine.  I fought using it as long as I could until it was both mandatory and I was able to tweak the system to help with my style of time reporting.  My issues at first were quickly and easily finding the cases I was working on so that I could easily switch between parcels of work when multitasking between projects.  Once that was resolved, I had total buy-in with the new process after shaking the old system’s cobwebs out of my brain and resetting my routine to the new process.  I’m a huge proponent of the new time system now.  It turned out to be a great time saver and more importantly, my data is in better shape.

As I am morphing from a software engineer caterpillar into a customer advocate butter-moth, I am starting to see some patterns of issues in a lot of different companies.  One of the most striking is seeing their Sugar instance not being properly utilized.  Whether it be from lack of buy-in from key data owners to just plain lack of knowledge of SugarCRM. There are a lot of reasons why companies are borderline adequate in fully utilizing their Sugar instance.  Let’s break down some of the reasons here and we’ll have a little fun with this exercise to tap into that long-term memory and use parts of the brain to describe the different cases.

Brain Image 

The Medulla Oblongata  

This is the autonomic region of the brain where it controls everyday functions like breathing.  Yes, breathing is a boring thing for a brain to do, but in reality, breathing is pretty important.  With one customer that I talked to, the front line data enterers were not using Sugar because they each had their own autonomous way to keep the data as they had done for years and years.  They were entrenched in their own breathing pattern and the Sugar brain was not receiving enough oxygen (data).

The Cerebellum

Here we have the motor control area of the brain.  If this part of the brain is damaged, the ability to contribute to coordination, precision, and accurate timing are tuned out.  I talked to a customer that was unaware of all the features that Sugar could do.  In fact, they had just bought another CRM system because they didn’t realize that Sugar could handle what they needed to do.

The Cerebral Hemispheres

The lateralization of brain function basically is a theory stating that the left side of the brain handles logical characteristics and the right has a more creative responsibility.  In this situation, you might find yourself having a fully functioning Sugar system for your department, but is it communicating with other areas of your company?  Imagine the power of your Sugar when the left and right cross the corpus callosum aisle and work together?  I talked to one customer that was essentially doing double entry because their systems were not talking.  Much like the time entry experience mentioned above, they risk both monetary and data problems. Frankly speaking, if you are reading this blog post, you have either stumbled on this researching brain parts for a term paper or you are interested in improving your CRM experience.  So lets come up with some solutions to the issues facing many companies as they try to maximize Sugar.

Solution #1 – Map out Your Business Logic

One of the things I tell folks in my training classes is that Sugar is a very malleable application. You don’t have to re-route your company’s business logic to map to the software. You mold Sugar to what you and your business do. With that, it would be a very good practice to run a birth to death lifecycle of what your CRM needs are. Once you have that map in place, you will be able to unlock automation ideas in Sugar that will protect the integrity of the data as well as save valuable time.

Solution #2 – Give the Sense of Ownership

Long-term employees tend to be very protective of their processes and data responsibilities.  It’s usually not because they strive to be difficult, but more of a sense of pride in their work.  Include them in decisions on how to best get the data into Sugar. If they have ideas on how to best work, include them in your business workflow.  If they feel they own a piece of the process, they will be more apt to adhere to your CRM principles. Give them global training on Sugar and emphasize how their role is just one piece of the puzzle.  The more they see the big picture, the more pride they’ll take on with the new process.

Solution #3 – Get a Booster Shot of Training

Sugar is a living application. New productivity evolves with every new upgrade.  When was the last time you checked out all the features that Sugar has?  Has your business evolved?  There might be some functionality in Sugar that you are not using, and could be very beneficial to your business. Get some training on Sugar. Some of it might be a refresher, but certainly, there will be something that will make you relook at how you can use Sugar for the better.

When I last blogged about my new role, we were having discussions on what to title my new role. I am now officially titled a “Customer Advocate”.  As a Customer Advocate, I am reaching out to all different types of businesses.  This allows me to grab a macro level look at general best practices as well as insights into special little things that just work well.  If your company needs help in unlocking potential best processes, I can help. If you need another voice to talk with other departments in an effort to best automate their use, I am just a phone call away.  If you need some training, let us know.

It's closing time at blog post #2.  It wasn’t a random chance that I compared the SugarCRM experience to parts of the brain. You are storing a bunch of data, some of which is very important. You need to figure out the steps to protect and nourish your CRM so that processing and regurgitating the data back is not an issue. The longer you wait will only cost you both time and money later on.

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