WhITe PAPer: Best Practices for imPlementing an effective moBile crm system
Best Practices for implementing an effective mobile crm system
vice-President, Professional services InfInIty Info SyStemS
senior ProJect manager InfInIty Info SyStemS
525 SeveNTh AveNue SuITe 1200
NeW YOrk, NY 10018
table of contents
mobile crm is more than an application add-on
include the right stakeholders
thoroughly analyze Business Processes
standardize on a single Platform if Possible
consider the technological limitations of smartphones
consider data security
Proper training is Key
about the authors
Copyright © 2009 by Infinity Info Systems Corp. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Infinity Info Systems Corp. All trademarks, service marks and logos referenced herein belong to their respective companies. This document is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. This document is for your general information only and is provided “As Is” without warranty of any kind, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or non-infringement. Infinity Info Systems Corp. assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of this document.
Laptops have made it dramatically more efficient for salespeople to do business on the road. But laptops can be frustrating for those who want to take advantage of a spare moment—while waiting in an airport taxi line, for instance—to enter notes about a meeting or check for details about the next sales call. By the time they power up the laptop and launch the application, the waiting cab will have honked twice. Smartphones such as the Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry, Palm Treo, and Windows Mobile devices can be in hand and running in a few seconds, creating the opportunity to immediately update customer relationship information. As these devices have become more capable, business applications that were once limited to laptops and desktops are now migrating to smartphones. Today, most major vendors of Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) solutions offer mobile versions of their products. These mobile CRM applications mesh with the work-style of onthe-road sales professionals, and that makes it easy to understand their allure. The smartphone’s pocketable form factor and instant-on capabilities can enable field salespeople to quickly access or add customer data. Better yet, they won’t have to spend their evenings hunched over a laptop catching up on CRM updates. The entire organization will benefit, since mobile devices can automatically synchronize to the CRM host database and ensure that customer accounts, contacts, activities, and sales opportunity information are always current. Adoption by field staff of mobile CRM is generally higher than standard CRM because it can help them achieve sales goals and personal efficiency in ways that complement with their working conditions. CIOs, too, understand the benefits of mobile CRM. A recent study by Forrester Research found that 73 percent of respondents said mobilizing CRM had made their businesses more productive. And more organizations are seriously considering implementation of mobile CRM, according to the survey. Forrester found that 52 percent of respondents plan to launch a mobile CRM implementation in the next 12 to 18 months.
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Mobile CRM Is More Than An Application Add-on
Because many companies see mobile CRM as an add-on to existing CRM solutions, they often believe they can simply migrate CRM apps and data to a mobile platform with little planning or training. It’s just not that simple. For maximum success, it is critical that businesses plan, design, and implement mobile CRM based on their employees’ unique needs. Business leadership must help identify the value and efficiencies that the technology will bring to the company’s singular business model. The organization should start by determining the most effective functions of its existing CRM system, and then pair that with the best-suited functions for use with mobile devices.
Thoroughly Analyze Business Processes
The project teams’ first task will be to identify the relevant and meaningful data that empowers a successful sales team. This should be examined from the perspective of the sales team. First, analyze the functions that salespeople want and need to accomplish using mobile CRM. Focus on the top few processes that will bring the greatest value to the field employees. Salespeople often report that their greatest needs center on activity planning and calendar functions. That’s a given, but delve deeper to uncover other potential uses. Next, build a matrix that details the most useful features, and then rank how the mobile CRM system will deliver those functionalities. It’s a good idea to let members of the sales team rank the most important features, since their involvement will help build consensus on functionality as well as establish buy-in for the project. Also carefully consider workflow. Core CRM systems typically are built on a workflow and logic that should, to some extent, be replicated in a mobile CRM workspace. Note, however, that too much attention to workflow and logic could induce cost overruns and provide little value in the end. You can avoid this problem by providing read-only access to certain fields in the mobile CRM application that have complex workflow and logic behind them in the host CRM system.
Include The Right Stakeholders
When mapping out a mobile CRM solution, full participation from the right stakeholders is crucial. The project group should include CRM sponsors, a businessunit liaison, the vice president of sales, and a front-line salesperson who can attest to actual field practices and potential uses. Also involve key IT and infrastructure staff, and if you have an in-house mobile platform expert, by all means include that person. As with any project team, it’s a good idea to keep the group as small as possible. The logistics of assembling a large number of people for meetings will slow the progress of the project and inevitably prolong decision-making.
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Standardize On A Single Platform If Possible
Businesses should standardize on a certain device or device platform, such as BlackBerry or Windows Mobile. You should not support both platforms—unless cost is not an issue. Beyond the platform, it’s key to decide what versions of the mobile operating system (OS) the IT department will support. In the mobile world, operating systems are upgraded frequently and support issues often vary with each version of the OS. Organizations also should be aware that certain models within a product line might have varying levels of user satisfaction. The touch-screen BlackBerry Storm, for instance, has been a somewhat troublesome model in RIM’s normally stable smartphone line. Also consider that apps that work well on one device (like the BlackBerry Curve) may not work as well on another (like the Storm). When determining how to implement data and functionality in the mobile CRM system, remember that physical characteristics of the smartphone will restrict how information is displayed and stored. Simplicity of navigation is absolutely critical in mobile CRM. Mobile devices have a compressed keyboard and a small display, and tasks must be accomplished with a minimum number of keystrokes.
Consider The Technological Limitations Of Smartphones
Smartphones, with their less-powerful processors and modest storage capabilities, interact with enterprise CRM systems in ways that pale in comparison to their desktop and laptop counterparts. A smartphone’s core software is not as robust as a laptop. For instance, the BlackBerry uses Java 2 Mobile Edition (J2ME) to support application development, and its capabilities simply will not be as comprehensive as full-fledged clientserver or Web applications. Another limitation is the smartphones’ meager local storage, which prohibits them from containing large databases. The storage strategy varies by platform. Data and mobile applications can be completely stored on the device, completely stored remotely and accessed over the air, or a hybrid of local storage and over-the-air access. Some degree of local storage is critical for success, since wireless access is often restricted by factors like building structures, limited speeds, and low or unavailable signals. You must consider how these devices will access remote databases that house complicated data such as pricing information. Product pricing may be built upon a massive amount of information that may be stored on a separate database (or part of the CRM host database). Rather than synchronizing potentially millions of records, companies should consider using over-the-air Web services to access complicated pricing and then retrieve in real-time only the relevant data.
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Consider Data Security
Mobile devices transmit sensitive client and company data over the air, and businesses must ensure that the level of data security offered by mobile CRM providers matches the company’s security profile. A secure transfer must be provided for both data at-rest on the device and in-transit during synchronization. In addition, a valuable requirement for always-connected devices is the ability to remotely wipe the hardware should it be lost or stolen. All smartphones should use a device password to protect all information stored on the handheld.
Proper Training Is Key
A mobile CRM system is only as good as its user adoption. That’s why proper training is critical to the success of any implementation. As with most technologies, salespeople will adopt a mobile CRM system only if they understand how to effectively use it. And CRM can present a doubly difficult challenge because it requires training on the application and, in some cases, also the smartphone. You may find a few mobile professionals who do not use a smartphone, so organizations must ensure that training includes basic instruction on using the hardware. Ideally, this should be done in advance of the mobile CRM training. Training should also cover real-world issues that users encounter on a regular basis. The mobile CRM team should present approximately 10 scenarios that illustrate how employees will use the devices with the mobile CRM applications. It’s a good idea to combine scenario-based training with mobile CRM navigational concepts. Finally, businesses should understand that frustration with the traditional CRM system could spill over to the mobile CRM application. If salespeople have not embraced traditional CRM, they are also not likely to be enthusiastic about mobile CRM. To that end, know the acceptance level of existing CRM before you venture into a mobile project. Be forthright in asking what salespeople like—and don’t like—about their current CRM system. That’s a tough question to ask, but it’s important to guarantee the success of a mobile CRM solution.
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About The Authors Scott Snider
Scott has been responsible for the execution and strategic direction of Infinity’s CRM consulting operations since 1999. As a result of overseeing the Development, Training, IT and Project Management departments, Scott has been involved in more than 200 successful CRM implementations. This breadth of experience enables Scott to guide Infinity to specialization in several vertical markets including the financial, publishing and life science industries. Before coming to Infinity, Scott was a Senior Project Manager for Computer Language Research (CLR) where he was in charge of corporate tax software implementations for Fortune 500 companies across the country. Prior to that, Scott consulted for Price Waterhouse.
Jason Ames is a Senior Project Manager for Infinity Info Systems and has been implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems since 1997. He has an extensive business analysis and project management background both in CRM implementations as well as system and data integrations. Jason has worked for Accenture and several Financial Services firms, specializing in implementing fixedincome trading and risk management systems, along with integrating CRM applications. For the last decade, Jason has exclusively focused on CRM for Fortune 100 and 500 companies across a wide range of industries, including Financial Services, Manufacturing, Publishing, Advertising, Life Sciences, Technology and Food & Facilities Services. In more recent years, Jason has focused more heavily on Mobile CRM, enabling sales forces by incorporating enterpriselevel CRM applications on BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. Jason attended Binghamton University in New York and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering.
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About Infinity Info Systems
Founded in 1987, Infinity Info Systems develops Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Analytics solutions for clients in the financial, life sciences, business services, media and manufacturing/distribution industries around the world. Infinity’s technology solutions, services, training and support help organizations become more profitable by improving sales and marketing effectiveness. Infinity has trained more than 130,000 professionals and successfully implemented more than 3,500 CRM systems. Visit www.infinityinfo.com or call (800) 354-4228 to learn more about Infinity Info Systems.
525 SeveNTh AveNue SuITe 1200
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