Planning and Executing an Effective CRM Solution Review


When a client facing review of the CRM solution is scheduled, there are a number of best practices which greatly improve the chances of giving the customer that “WOW” moment.  There are a number of practices that I have employed which resulted in great success in achieving client satisfaction during implementations.

Business Process Workflow Diagram

Preparation for an upcoming solution review should always begin with reviewing (or creating, if unavailable) the workflow diagram for the corresponding business process which is the focus of the solution review.  This helps familiarize the demonstrator with the underlying business process that is being enabled through the customization and configuration of CRM.  This diagram should detail the business process with notes on how CRM is being used to account for each step.  This document is provided to the customer so that they can see that their process has been properly documented as well as to provide a visual guide through each step of the demonstration.

An example of a simple business process enabled through CRM. This process would be the basis for demonstration during a Solution Review.

Solution Review Scenario Narrative

Another tool to assist in a successful solution review is the solution review scenario narrative.  This document is for the demonstrator and the CRM team to provide any additional details needed to execute the solution review demonstration.  Essentially a “script”, this document is detailed enough to allow anyone from the CRM team the ability to perform the review demonstration, in the event of illness or unscheduled absence.  The narrative is associated to each step of the business process workflow diagram to aid in the flow of the demonstration.  Notes on CRM related functions to be included in the process, but are perhaps not able to demonstrated such as integration should also be included within this document.

Appropriate CRM Data Population

This is possibly the most important piece of the puzzle.  Appropriate data for the business process is critical to strongly demonstrate the capability of the solution presented.  For example, if you are using a lookup to a reference table on a CRM form, be sure to populate the information with valid data that speaks to the business process being demonstrated.  Data such as “Value #1”, “Value #2”, etc. minimizes the value and “WOW” factor that you are trying to achieve.  Work with your client to understand what values will be populated in these type of fields when the system is intended to be used in the field.  There is obviously a cost to using appropriate CRM data, and that is time.  If you frequently use DemoBuilder, the pre-populated data needs to be massaged to ensure that it meets the business need.   It takes time to add these values, either through the CRM data import tool or manually, this process can be time-consuming to plan and to execute…but it pays dividends multiple times over.

CRM Team pre-Solution Review

Prior to the solution review date, it is important to have a dry run of the demonstration with the CRM team, to avoid unnecessary glitches during the session with the client.  Walking through the process, leveraging the document artifacts created before demonstrating before the process is always a good practice.  The feedback received from your team members may uncover something missed, or a pattern that should be avoided (talking too fast, glossing over an important feature, etc.).  These sometimes minor changes could be all the difference between success and rework.

Solution Review Backlog

During the session, have a team member who acts as scribe to effectively capture comments and feedback from the client.  These issues/comments should be logged on a solution review backlog to clearly define follow-up items and to provide transparency to the client on the progress of resolution to their open items.  This backlog is different from a Solution Backlog used within the Agile methodology, as it is not a list of desired functionality to be slotted, rather a list of follow-up items from the solution review demonstration itself.  These items can be tasks related to design, tweaks to customization or communication touch points with the client.

Take Your Time

Most importantly of all, take your time…planning, documenting and executing.  There are times where the execution of the solution review is time sensitive, but that doesn’t mean that the appropriate level of homework isn’t completed prior to review day.  This planning and attention to detail will set expectations for your client as well as your team for what is considered a professional solution review.  It will also foster good conversation surrounding the project and the needs of the client, which when properly understood, supports a successful project.

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Author: crmhobbit

The CRMhobbit (Shawn Tabor) is a Microsoft Business Solutions MVP and a Sr. Solutions Architect. He has experience implementing Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement across various vertical industries including Financial Services, Manufacturing, Public Sector and Sports & Entertainment. Shawn specializes in the Dynamics 365 for Field Service, Project Service Automation and LinkedIn Sales Navigator solutions. The purpose of his blog is to share his knowledge, experience and thoughts regarding CRM in the hopes of benefiting those in the CRM community. If anything on this blog has helped you, please comment or rate the posts. Thank you!

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