Dynamics CRM=Great……Dynamics CRM+Analytics=WHOA – now that’s what I’m talking ’bout.
One of the primary reasons many organizations chose to go down the CRM implementation path is to put in place a system, or method for capturing and reporting on key pieces of data. Often times this starts in the sales organization and there is lots of emphasis on sales forecast or pipeline reporting. Also common in some organizations is activity reporting, call reporting, etc. In the marketing organization there is typically a desire to produce some reporting that gives them insight to the quality of specific lead sources, the performance of marketing campaigns or demand generation efforts, etc. Implemented correctly, Dynamics CRM can provide a treasure trove of information and reporting on these types of topics and more. That said, regardless of how well designed or implemented, there are some inherent limits to the types of reporting and insight that any CRM system can provide. Take for example sales forecasting or pipeline reporting. As the name “forecasting” implies, Sales Forecasting is a forward looking exercise. By capturing information in the CRM database about the current status of various data points, organizations can use this information to make some estimation as to what sales will occur, to and by whom and when. Pretty basic depiction of the idea, but no real rocket science in the concept. Of course the devil is in the details and there are as many options, ideas, methods and opinion on how to approach this sales forecasting as there are stars in the sky. ( I’ve commented on this before and we’ll save another go round on this topic for a future post. )
So on to the idea of adding analytics to the already powerful reporting capabilities of Dynamics CRM. It is very common for organizations to not only want to look at where things are today and where they might be tomorrow. But also, where were they last week/month/year at this time? Given that at any particular time the CRM database is just a snapshot of where we are today, what if we can also add in the type of information that would tell us if we are trending up, or down, or staying even in a given area. Let’s take the sales pipeline again as an example…if the value of our pipeline today is X, what was it last month or last year at this time? Would it be helpful to understand, on average, how long it takes a lead to progress through each stage of your sales process? If you know that, maybe your forecasting process will improve because you will know if the projected time that it will take a given opportunity or set of opportunities to progress through the sales process is within the parameters of what your historical or analytical data tells you it typically takes. Again simple, but powerful example. One of the most common requests I hear in this area is again the notion of pipeline trends. How does our current pipeline compare with the value of pipeline in some prior period? Maybe it is not only at an organization wide level but also at an individual level. Is one sales rep or set of sales reps pipeline trending higher or lower? What is the correlation of their pipeline growth/decline to actual sales results? If they are out of whack, maybe you then need to drill into the types of sales activities that are or aren’t happening. Maybe there is a problem with the sales process or the ability of a given rep to execute that process, etc. There are 100’s of other interesting questions and conclusions that one might use analytical data for but one thing is for sure. If you want to be able to ask and answer these types of questions you need to add an analytics component to your CRM implementation.
Technically speaking, the process of setting up and capturing information for your CRM database into an analytics database is not a big challenge. The challenges come from understanding what kinds of information will be of value to your organization if you would be able to look at and better understand it over a period of time. From there it is all about capturing the data that you deem important and developing and deploying the tools you can use to report, slice, dice, view and share the data, etc. And, the sooner you can start capturing it the better. After the first day or week or month, you have more analytical type of capability than you had the day, week or month before so the sooner you start, the sooner you get there.
PowerObjects can help you develop and deploy an analytics solution for your Dynamics CRM implementation regardless of whether it is deployed on-premise, hosted by PowerObjects or even CRM Online. If you want the WHOLE picture, if you want to know what happened in the past, what is happening at this moment and what is likely to happen in the future, then a CRM analytics solution from PowerObjects is just what you need.