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A 5-Step Process to Utilize Your Existing Technology: Level 4—Automating Your CRM

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In our last post in this series, Spenser Segal on Software Optimization,  we wrote about Level 3 – Building Processes Into Your CRM, in which we covered how moving out of your head (Level 1) and away from paper (Level 2) benefits your entire organization. Now it is time to go to Level 4 Utilization and get on the road to gaining speed in completing work and giving more time back to your team for high-value activities.

Let’s start with the why of automation. You’ve just gained tremendous advantages for your entire team just by embedding processes into your CRM system. You improved clarity, efficiency, accessibility and reporting capabilities. What more can automation bring? Automating within CRM will bring you more speed in completing routine tasks and processes, thereby giving time back to your team which they can then spend on high value activities like bringing in new clients or proactively reaching out to existing clients.

You gain greater consistency in how tasks are actually performed and remove dependence on the tribal knowledge of a single person or small group. Building automation into CRM requires thorough documentation of what is done and how it is done. Building your processes into your CRM it makes it easy to refine and reassign tasks as your practice matures and grows.

Once tasks are accurate, organized and embedded into the CRM system it is time to have the workflow engine automate specific tasks. Good candidates for automation are any tasks that are repeated frequently and accomplished in the same way every time. 

Think about reports that are shared in client meetings or the follow-up that happens after those meetings.  The process of gathering the data for the reports was likely embedded into CRM in Level 3, the same data gathering process can be automated using a workflow engine.

Further, it can automatically be output into a pre-defined format and returned to a specified folder without human interaction. Thus the hours that your staff previously spent pulling and formatting data can now be spent on something the system can’t do: building strong working relationships with clients and prospects.

The work of getting to automation was already started when you embedded processes into CRM. At this stage you are specifically looking for areas where the human touch isn’t adding value to the completion of a task. Clearly defining these processes is what will drive quick success building automation into the system. Remember, many CRM systems are designed to do this, so if you do your definition homework up front the build-out should be relatively easy.

Just as with the Level 2 checklists and Level 3 embedded processes, test with a small user group and make tweaks where necessary to ensure things are working accurately. When you roll out to the entire team continue to monitor and adjust over time as needed.

The move to increased utilization—automation in this case—is getting easier as we go on, refer back to the Five Levels of Tool Utilization diagram below. This is because the work you do to achieve each step in the journey requires you to articulate the processes that enable you to effectively serve clients and prospect throughout your organization.

Spenser Segal's Five Levels

Most of your team will be thrilled to drop repetitious tasks that don’t make good use of their skills and abilities. However, don’t be surprised to find a few holdouts. Change is usually difficult and it makes people nervous.

Letting go of tasks that make employees feel needed can be scary. So stay with it and help everyone feel comfortable with the new norm.

If you think automating in a single application is productive, wait until the next post in in this series, Spenser Segal on Software Optimization, where we go cross-platform with the automation and take your utilization to the next level.


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