Managing CRM customization can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. After all, there are so many CRM customization options out there!
But at QuantaCRM, we believe in the principle of crawl, walk, run. That means breaking things down into manageable chunks and building processes that help you achieve and build on small but meaningful goals.
So with that in mind, here’s a beginner’s guide for how to manage CRM customization:
1.) Get input from end users
In many ways, a good CRM system is a like a good manager: it removes obstacles to your team’s success. So when you customize your CRM, it’s important to do so in ways that will benefit your users. That means knowing what your team needs, what they want, what obstacles they face, and where your system currently falls short.
With these guidelines in mind, some customizations are no-brainers. These sorts of customizations fill in functionality gaps or eliminate bugs in your CRM system. Often, your users won’t even realize they are using a customization.
For example, in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, you cannot edit an activity once it’s completed. Our Completed Activity Unlocker allows you to do so. It’s nothing flashy, but it’s a very important functionality that, for whatever reason, isn’t available out-of-the-box.
But many customizations are industry-, vertical-, or role-specific. Some can change the user experience significantly. So for high-impact or highly-specific CRM customizations, you’ll want to start by talking to your end users.
Between their knowledge of the day-to-day, and your knowledge of the big picture, you can start putting together some pretty comprehensive customization goals.
2.) Set clear, measurable goals
Setting goals helps you to focus and prioritize your customization efforts. It also helps you adjust or expand your efforts when a customization doesn’t fulfill any or all of your goals.
What are you trying to achieve? Why? How will you know whether and to what extent you have achieved your goals?
On the surface, your goals for CRM customization may seem obvious. You may want to track touchpoints, or simplify lead creation, or simplify multi-step processes, or any number of things. The trick is to go beyond features and consider measurable results.
This isn’t just a “sell the holes, not the drill” move, though. Measuring your results allows you to determine whether and to what extent a customization benefits your team. It also helps you find ways to improve or adjust your customization plan.
For example, if you want to simplify lead creation, our Web-to-Lead Creator may be exactly what you need. But it might not be. Maybe you need something different. Maybe you need something more. Maybe Web-to-Lead is just one in a cluster of features you’ll need to meet your goals. But if you don’t consider how, why, and in what ways you need to simplify lead creation, your customization strategy could turn into a guessing game.
3.) Keep things simple to start
Don’t try to do too much too fast. There is nothing wrong with starting your CRM customization efforts simply. In fact, there are a whole host of advantages to keeping things simple:
- You won’t overwhelm your team (both IT and end users)
- You isolate your variables if something breaks
- You isolate your variables when evaluating results
- You can adjust future customization efforts based on those results
So now that you have some customization goals, break them down and prioritize them. Consider the urgency, difficulty, and compatibility of each goal. Do some fit together? Should others be handled separately? Might some conflict with one another?
These questions will get easier to answer as you become more familiar with your system and customization options. In the beginning, then, it’s often best to learn with a few quick wins unless you have urgent need of more complex CRM customizations.
Of course, if you and your team are already CRM veterans, you may be able to move pretty quickly, especially through basic customizations. But once you’re in new territory, give your team time to adjust and evaluate their new toys before you pile more customizations on. This also puts you in the best position to manage CRM customization well.
4.) Evaluate results
What worked? What didn’t? Why? Why not?
It’s helps to dig a little deeper, even. After all, it’s very common to find partial success with a customization, but realize it falls short in some areas. Alternatively, a customization may solve one problem but create another.
Make sure to get your team involved in this process. A top-down review may miss the trees for the forest. If your team is unhappy with the results of a customization, it’s worth your time to find out why. Sometimes, it will simply be resistance to change. But other times, they may see problems you don’t.
The point is to evaluate the effects of your CRM customizations, and put yourself in position to recognize (and possibly build on) success and fix failures…
…at which point, the cycle begins again.
To manage CRM customization well is a cycle. As your needs and capabilities change, you want a process in place that can keep pace with those changes.
Hopefully, this offers you a good starting point. As you and your team get more comfortable with your CRM and your CRM customization options, you’ll no doubt develop your own processes. Nevertheless, we hope these core principles remain useful to you as you become a CRM customization pro!
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