October 18, 2012, 2:30 PM — 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.
When Do You Connect Users To the CRM System?
If CRM access is so important, then you want everyone on the system ASAP, right? Not so fast, Kemosabe. Ironically, the area of the system that has the widest interest-analytics and reports-is the part you need to go slowest in exposing. Why? The more elegant the analysis, the more purely distilled the data quality and semantics problems that are epidemic in CRM. (The perfectionists will howl, but the reality is that CRM data, due to its diverse origins, is almost guaranteed to be the dirtiest data in the enterprise.)