Getting Ready (Really) for CRM in Your Practice

Oct 8, 2015

Today we turn to one of our strategic partners: QuonWarrene BlaneWarrene2( to push into the difficult topic of how an advisor firm should approach identifying and implementing a new CRM.

Blane Warrene, one of the two principals and founders of QuonWarrene will be your guide in this blog post.

We have come a long way since Outlook ranked in the top five of CRM tools in financial services. While we all find value in Outlook, one thing it is not is a CRM solution.

That said, it is essential to cultivate a mindset and properly set expectations in your business for what it means to have and successfully leverage CRM. The CRM you implement should serve as the center of the universe in your practice technology. If it is not in CRM, it does not exist.

Before thinking about the features and function needed, there are some mental exercises to work through with your team. Just as each role in your business has responsibilities that, when weaved together, make your services possible to clients – so will everyone on your team have different needs and perspective on what they expect and require from CRM.

Pre-Implementation Checklist

How You Work (or want to)
It is key to think about how technology can reduce the amount time you spend on the keyboard and staring into a monitor and more time with your prospective and active clients and delivering those services. This applies to every role in your business.

  • What habits are we trying to change?
  • What processes do we need to streamline?
  • What information do we struggle to assemble now (for client or prospect meetings, for example)?
  • What activities could we at least partially automate (on-boarding new client, recurring transactions or reporting tasks, et al)?
  • Where are we repeatedly re-entering data, where we could leverage integration, so data entered once in CRM is syndicated to other systems without data entry?
  • In return, what data do we need from other systems to fully expedite our services from within CRM?

The Tech Needs
Having the critical human workflow steps mapped out, you can shift gears to thinking about your technical requirements. For our discussion here these double as business requirements.

Take into consideration the tools you use for work – i.e. computers, phones and tablets – to get a baseline of how you intend to access and work in your CRM. This will help you understand any specifications (can I use Google Chrome on a PC or Safari on a Mac?) as well as if you will need to plan for app installs on mobile devices.

Business Needs
The partnerships and affiliations you leverage to run your business (custodial relationships, investment and insurance providers and so on) play a key role. There are opportunities to tap into account and client data and discount access to additional technology providers (third parties like portfolio reporting, financial planning and more) with CRM integration. Also always ask if there are advanced or custom areas of support for CRM beyond the basics.

The Requirements Checklist

  • What are the specifications for computers and mobile devices?
  • What security and business continuity considerations do I need to understand or will I benefit from?
  • Do my business partners offer support for particular CRM providers?
  • Are integrations available to tap for account and client data otherwise requiring manual entry?
  • Does that data come direct to CRM from the business partner or through a third-party (i.e. portfolio reporting, financial planning)

Kicking Off with CRM
Once you have set the stage with the requirements you will need from a service delivery perspective, the shift is to implementing your CRM solution.

Implementation is where many of the best intended initiatives fail. Not for lack of desire for change nor from effort. The failure stems from pre-planning for this phase. By going through the process of outlining your processes as well as having clarity in your requirements, the project plan and work needed is much clearer.
Before the first entry is made in a CRM, the first element of kicking off is training and being prepared for data migration. Think of this initiative like a financial plan for a client. The steps to implementing that plan (after you’ve performed the discovery and due diligence, and assembled the plan):

  • Present the overall plan to the client
  • Outline the phases in how you will implement
  • Reset the perspective of the client and how they will actively participate (including changing old habits and building new ones)
  • Migrate assets and related wealth components to your platform and providers
  • Begin the new action steps in the plan, measuring and fine tuning as each segment is completed

This is the same approach to your implementation steps with your CRM. Understanding the plan steps, education and training and the facilitation of moving your business data to the new solution.

Maintaining Your “Source of Truth”
Once your CRM is “in production”, your business will start to reap the benefits of so much hard work. The capabilities you discovered during previous phases now come to fruition.

This is a stage where building the habits of maintaining your CRM remain critical. There are always bits of data that could not be automatically transitioned from your old system that need input, as well as a discipline on your team to utilize uniform standards for entering and categorizing data in your new CRM.

Don’t hesitate to tap your business partners and those third parties you acquire to tap integration with your CRM for insights into how to best utilize their support and best practices. And never stop learning. Stay tuned in to your CRM provider for ongoing enhancements, new education opportunities and their network of experts for best practices.

No CRM selection and implementation is easy – however – it can be a central element to successfully growing your business when implemented and used effectively.

Raef Lee

Raef Lee

Raef Lee is the technology contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a managing director for the SEI Advisor Network.

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