The knowledge that can be gained from an insight into your shop floor and inventory, right through to your customer and target markets, is invaluable. However, one simply can’t just make a decision to incorporate their ERP and CRM systems and complete the sync in the next day. There needs to be a careful preparation process and timeline in place for your integration project for it to be as successful as it beyond doubt can be. One of the first steps of that process needs to be cleaning up your pre-existing data. You already know that inaccurate CRM data inevitably leads to slip-ups that seriously impact your sales performance and customer satisfaction. Integration of systems filled with ‘dirty data’ and duplicate entries will just magnify those problems by populating all of your enterprise systems with errors. By amplifying the errors, it will be even harder for your employees to use the system, and degrade the credibility of your entire software suite's data going forward. Long story short; clean your CRM data up before you move it anywhere else or integrate it with another enterprise system. Here’s how to get started.
The first step to clean CRM data is taking the time to go through your entries with a thoughtful eye. Consider what information you have that is truly useful and what might be superfluous and unnecessary to integrate with your ERP. Do you have customers that have been out of contact for a long time, and that probably won't be making orders in the future? Are there employees that are no longer working at a company and therefore won't be a useful touch point going forward? Consider getting rid of their entries so that you only have to sync your most current and relevant data when you integrate. If there are crucial fields missing from a certain contact, try reaching back out to the contact to get the full picture on them. If you figure that they aren’t worth the effort, and then throw away them as well. If you’re nervous about deleting data and losing valuable customer information, you can also store it in archives so that it is not synced, but still not lost in the event that they do eventually come back around to your business.
Your search and data purge truly needs to be thorough go even further than customer data by looking through any other information stored in your CRM. Tasks that were never attended to or simply checked out may still be remaining around and don’t need to be transferred. Consider this an opportunity for a much-needed spring cleaning of your CRM benefiting not just your upcoming integration but also your entire sales process.
During your clean up, ensure that you are merging any duplicate records that you find. You don’t want to reinforce these mistakes even further when you do send that CRM data to your ERP you’ll only be sending out those duplicated across your organization. If certain fields are redundant (i.e. Employer and Company), consider creating a flow that will merge them and standardize the entries within those fields. Some incorporation platforms may have data or entry limits, and erasing duplicates will ensure you’re only paying to store the essential data. The work you do now to build a foundation of clean CRM data will make it easier for your business going forward.
Once you have cleaned all the data that is already inside your system, you need to start enforcing policies to keep your CRM data clean up until the integration. Ideally, you should already have these data entry practices in place. However, because clean data is integral to a successful enterprise software integration you should work even harder to make sure your entire team contributes to the accuracy of your information. Your sales team, along with everyone else who has a hand with inputting CRM data, needs to have a best practices guideline for how to input specific fields or tasks within the system; if phone numbers are written with hyphens, or state names abbreviated, for example. Inconsistent acronyms or shortened company names can mess up crucial functions you need your integration to operate and muddy the reports that you are drawing from that data. A clear, well-enforced guideline ensures that every employee is acting the same way inside your enterprise software in the period previous integration, ensuring that the CRM data that you worked so hard to clean is kept that way.
Another way to ensure clean CRM data before integration is by creating a hierarchy of security and data access for your team. If everyone has the same, full access to your data they will be more likely to make errors or by accident delete fields or records you need to succeed. Allow users only the access they need to sufficiently complete their work and input all the information they will be collecting. Your manufacturing team, for example, will want to be able to assign orders and manufacture to certain clients but they don’t necessarily need the power to create new orders, quotes or alter current client information. Not only will safety actions roles streamline the user experience of CRM for your employees, increasing user adoption, it will also make sure you have all of the (correct) information you need when it comes time to integrate.