Should we really be super-sizing our meals or anything for that matter? I think most of us have learned over the past decade that going big is not always best. I remember 30+ years ago when this picture was taken that an individuals options were limited and ordering fast-food meals provided a right size experience. So what does this have to do with CRM and reporting? I see customers trying to implement CRM systems with supersized reporting requirements which can produce a disastrous user experience.
I was at a customer function this past week and was asked about best practices directly tied to CRM dashboards and reporting. The customer’s question was specific to report performance and user experience when individuals are empowered to create personalized dashboards or reports. Could building personalized dashboards drawing from the entire CRM data model bring the CRM system to its knees?
The promise of most CRM platforms today is empowerment at the user level and surfacing actionable analytics to drive productivity. Most CRM vendors featured in the Forrester Wave report are on the right track with this message, but customers must take the time to think this part of the CRM implementation out to manage expectation and work within CRM systems capabilities.
I will attempt to provide my recommendations when looking at this topic during requirements, planning, implementation build out, go live and ongoing maintenance. I will try and break down the topic in buckets around reporting requirements, options & best practices to follow –
- Advanced find for one time viewing of data or saving of views.
- Administrative and user based system views driven by advanced find.
- Static or dynamic export to Excel from CRM system. This is one of my favorite end-user givebacks!
- Leveraging reporting platforms like Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and or Crystal Reports.
- offering up an iframe within a CRM record to expose report or analytics from other systems.
- Executive views that provide all up snapshot of the complete dataset.
- Manager views that provide regional or divisional sets of data.
- Individual views that provide personal performance or territory analysis.
- Broad need to view information that resides outside of CRM.
Reporting Best Practices:
- Limited administration functions of report writing to prevent performance challenges. Most CRM systems allow role based user access to lock this down to accommodate.
- Pre-filter a report so that the dataset is manageable in size.
- Limit a report to display information from a specified time period, rather than displaying all records in the CRM database.
- Do not make a report with a large dataset or a complex query available on-demand to all users.
- Schedule a snapshot in Report Manager during a time schedule when the system is lightly loaded.
- Deploy the report through a CRM tool then use reporting platform to run the report at a scheduled time, with the results posted.
- Move global dataset reporting outside of CRM for more complex data mining.
- Phase 1 CRM deployment should be supported with:
- System supplied dashboards for all user types based on feedback.
- Incorporation of dynamic reports that auto refresh upon access will demonstrate strong productivity gains and drive system buy in.
- System canned views with option to personalize individual views.
- Phase 2 adjustments should include:
- Power user administrative rights to personalize dashboards and reports based on strong guidance.
- Feeds via iframe from legacy systems to augment system reporting can be introduced.
- Phase 3 should open up:
- À la carte to users you believe understand the creation, use cases and impacts of all reporting types.
I always encourage system governance by a user and administrative CRM committee who meets on a monthly basis to discuss how to improve the use and adoption of any CRM systems. Reporting should be one topic that is an ongoing debate in this process to insure user adoption.