Company C was planning to move their existing customer contact and purchasing information to a new CRM system. Business had taken off but the customer services team was finding it increasingly difficult to enter sales activity into the central Excel-based customer management system when needed.
Consequently, they were in the habit of keeping their own spreadsheets with the intention of updating the central spreadsheet when it became free. As a result the company’s customer contact and sales information was held in multiple locations and on different spreadsheets. It was known that there were duplicates in the data and sometimes customer orders were not despatched leading to poor-service complaints from customers.
It had also become apparent that some information about each customer order was being recorded under different spreadsheet headings. This created problems when administrative staff needed to amalgamate the information in order to compile management information. As time went on, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the business owners to get a timely and accurate overview of the company’s performance when they needed. This was also hindering their plans of applying for external funding for a proposed business expansion.
How did business process mapping help?
The business process mapping initially took the form of sketching out the customer handling, sales, and data capture and input processes, combined with the use of sticky notes, in an interactive session. This meant everyone involved was able to ‘walk-through’ each step of each process. By doing so they were able to identify where certain assumptions had been made – directly leading to the use of different spreadsheet headings – and recognise the separate difficulties experienced by the administrative staff in producing timely and accurate management information.
It also identified that a new process was required in order to accurately record and report information about a proposed service line for new customers.
Armed with electronic versions of the process mapping, a report detailing the specific data fields required, and their <> requirements, the company had a better idea of what they needed from their new CRM system and better informed, more productive, discussions with potential CRM suppliers who were clearer on what the company required.
What about the data quality issues identified?
The company were aware of duplications and anomalies in the data. These were handled by way of a data merging and cleansing operation where each spreadsheet was compared one against the other in relation to their headings and corresponding content. Once this had been completed, the information was transferred into a separate master spreadsheet, before being assessed for duplicate information, checked for accuracy, and updated where necessary. In view of the proposed move to a new CRM system, fresh spreadsheets (ie Customers, Contacts, Sales, Orders, etc) with consistent and accurate headings were created.