Before Installing CRM Systems, Consult Your Org Chart

With most enterprise systems, it's immediately clear who should be users and what they should be able to do on the system. Not so with CRM -- and, over time, more and more employees and departments will need to be on the system.

By David Taber
Thu, October 18, 2012

CIO — When installing an ERP, accounting or even HR system, there's no question whom the users will be. It doesn't take long to identify the access privileges each class of user will need, either.

CRM systems, though, tend to be more multi-disciplinary, with information tendrils swimming across the organization. Serious CRM systems may interact with Web, marketing, ecommerce, telephony, email, IM, accounting, expense management, contract management, distribution, field service and even compensation systems. This makes for a serious integration challenge and begs the following question: "Who should have access to the CRM, and what should they be able to see and do there?"

Who Gets CRM Privileges?

It goes without saying that everyone in the sales and sales support section of your org chart should be users of the system, with privileges and access control based on their role and level in the organization. In most companies, the same is true of customer support, both pre- and post-sales. At least half of the marketing staff in most companies should be on the system as well; advertising, Web/social marketing, loyalty marketing, lead generation, field marketing, vertical marketing and partner marketing people need to be in the system frequently to do their jobs right. For other parts of marketing, such as public/analyst/investor relations, product planning, pricing, product management and product marketing, workers and managers will need at least access to CRM analytics to make good decisions and optimize outcomes.

Analysis: Before You Invest in CRM Software, Assess Your Needs

I'm going to argue that almost all the vice presidents in your organization need access to CRM data and analytics, too. As IBM's Thomas Watson famously said, "Everybody sells." Of course, CIOs and VPs of facilities aren't likely to be running a CRM dashboard—but their bonuses are at least partially dependent on company revenues and profits, so at the very least they should care about customer satisfaction.

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