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Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Dynamics CRM – Enterprise Data Governance

Ensuring that your CRM system has quality data in it over the long-term is not something that happens magically. A defined governance plan is needed. The level of detail on your governance plan will vary depending on the size of your organization and the resources available for managing your CRM system. The following post represents key elements that should be considered when you build your enterprise data governance plan.

Data Integrity Manager: Someone in your organization needs to own the data governance activity. This role does not need to be a CRM expert but rather someone who can execute a detailed process. Being part of or having a dotted line to the team that manages CRM is important.

User Account Creation & Training: Governance may include logging your requests for CRM access. This can be built into the CRM system as a workflow process. Automating this process to provide staff with notification emails, training information and other CRM details pertinent to your organization will reduce personnel requirements. A long-term approach to training is critical to having quality data in your system. Don’t give short shrift to your training.

User Account Disable: This needs to be incorporated into the logging mentioned above.  There also needs to be a process for re-assigning records to coincide with the disable. Developing a report that looks across the primary records such as Company, Contact, Prospects & Relationships and then presents the results in a crosstab. This will help with from an administrative standpoint when reassigning records is not a 1:1 relationship.

Company Records: For CRM to truly be an enterprise master data repository the company records need to be very accurate. If CRM is feeding financial systems then this data should be validated to match the correct legal entity being represented. When the CRM data is feeding other systems it is wise to validate field lengths as part of this process. If you don’t do this on the front end then integration errors will be experienced down the road. The following represents some basic steps that can be used to validate company information.

    • Create a report that shows any new company records as they are created by users.
    • Determine if the company is a duplicate of an existing record. If so, merge information and delete duplicate record. Notify the record creator of the duplication.
    • Research the company on the web using their corporate site or a research tool like InsideView to determine correct legal name of the company. Verify that the correct legal company name, address and phone number is being used.
    • Determine if the company is a parent or child of an existing company in CRM. Adjust hierarchy as appropriate.
    • Set a standard for how your phone numbers are captured in the system.
    • New company records should not be created simply to accommodate the office location where a specific contact resides.
    • Fields and/or workflows can be added to make this process more automated.
    • Keep company data synchronized between CRM and other integrated systems through two-way integrations. Or enforce CRM as the company record master and do not allow changes in downstream systems.
    • Institute a business process to keep up with acquisitions / corporate re-structuring.
    • Add Soundex reporting to ensure overall data quality long-term.

Contact Records: A weekly process can be used to find and eliminate duplicate records. A duplicate contact report can be developed for this. Setting a baseline of required fields will reduce the frequency of contacts being created with no detail. If specific users are continually creating records of poor quality this will highlight the need for more training. A general validation of e-mail syntax contains ‘@’ for example. Soundex reporting to identify data that has been entered simply to get around required fields such as ‘xxx’ in a text field etc.

Opportunity Records: The business owns these records and they should naturally be more visible than company or contact records. Good reporting of the sales pipeline/funnel should give visibility to duplicate or bad data. It becomes a slippery slope when someone other than business development staff is trying to verify or validate opportunity records.

Record Delete Requests: Removing the ability to delete Company, Contact and Opportunity records can be a key step in ensuring data quality. An inadvertent or uneducated deletion can cause much frustration across users and support staff. Disable the ability to delete these records and then create a simple workflow that users can launch when they wish to submit a delete request these records. In many cases the records should NOT be deleted, but should be merged, adjusted or simply disabled depending on the circumstance. In a very large company this governance item can become critical. Deleting a Prospect that is actually Lost may benefit the salesperson but is lost intelligence for the Company to be able to understand why they are not successful.  Additionally this will skew the win/loss ratio reports creating a false positive effect.

Reports: Leveraging native duplication detection rules at the application level is the first lines of defense.  The Soundex reports and additional logic to find items that have been entered to get around required fields take the next step in diligence.

Credits:  Thanks to Leslie Guffey for providing input for this post.

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About Tim Thorpe

Tim has worked with business application implementations at large, multinational corporations since 1992. His experience includes using software like Dynamics CRM to implement enterprise business solutions. Learn more about Tim at http://TimThorpe.org

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