Getting the Requirements Right
To choose the right CRM system and customize it to suit your organization necessitates making a list of how you need it to behave for you. These requirements often relate to services you provide for customers, tasks your team must execute, other types of functions you need the system to perform.
Let’s divide CRM software requirements into two types: Functional and Non-Functional.
Functional requirements describe exactly what tasks the software must perform and how. They will document the product boundaries as well as how it will interact with other systems such as email.
Functional requirements also define the business rules. Each individual business will have these rules that the complete CRM system must conform to. They will define the data to be tracked. For instance, you may require that each contact have an email address or phone number for it to be saved.
Business rules are the most important type of functional requirements. Most of your requirements will be of this type.
Non-Functional requirements describe the look and feel of the system. What do you consider necessary for maximum usability and performance: how fast, how big, how intuitive, etc.?
Non-Functional requirements also include the product's intended operating system environment and any maintainability, portability, and security issues. And don’t forget to include any legal requirements your software must conform to and potential cultural and political issues within your culture.
A well-crafted requirements list leads to wise tech decisions and implementations.
The quality of your requirements list will affect your results. High-quality requirements are:
- Necessary – they are non-negotiable for the system to function properly and meet your organization’s needs.
- Complete - they thoroughly describe the criteria using details
- Unambiguous - they are clear and cannot be misinterpreted
- Correct - they are accurate and true for your organization
- Feasible - they can be accomplished and do not contradict each other.
- Prioritized - if all parts of the system cannot be implemented at the same time, it's important to know which requirements rise to the level of most necessary and must come first.
- Verifiable – once the CRM system is implemented, there are ways to confirm that it has met the requirement through observation and testing.
How to formulate your CRM requirements list
How do you determine the behavior you will require of your CRM system? We recommend asking questions of the right people and resources. As you carry out this research, the responses you elicit will illuminate your requirements.
- Ask users – Who will actually be using the system once it's built? Users are not only the people who touch the CRM data but also include all the other stakeholders looking at the CRM database as a trusted, single information source about the business progress.
- Engage domain experts – Ask people such as outside consultants who are knowledgeable and have extensive experience with the system that is being selected and tailored.
- Look at existing processes and programs – How are you currently using both manual processes and existing programs? Find out what is working but, even more, what is not working so well.
- Audit where users spend their time.
- Sit down with the users while they are performing their tasks. Ask a bunch of questions to get a clear idea of what they are doing.
- Review SOP – Again, what standard operating procedures are working, and which ones are outdated and now a roadblock to efficiency?
- Review similar software programs - Similar or competing programs can be a great resource for comparison and creative thinking.
Setting up meetings with these people and interviewing them is important to your positive results. It might not be an easy task, depending on the people involved and how well they can communicate about what they do and how they do it. But you’ll be glad you invested the time and effort.
As your requirements list grows, you’ll be able to group them logically into business work areas. We recommend storing this information on a system that can be easily shared and modified by each team member. Include a column to indicate the need level for each requirement: Must have, Nice to have, Future, or a similar meaningful priority. At the very least you can use a spreadsheet application. We often receive a list of functional requirements from a prospective client that is a Microsoft Excel file with categories like Internal Sales, Outside/Field Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Third-Party Integrations.
For your convenience, we’ve created a document that you can download where you and each of your CRM users can indicate the CRM capabilities that are a must have, like to have, and don't need.
Use Cases typically begin where the Requirements Gathering process leaves off. The processes are partners. Although understanding the how your organization will be using CRM can enhance the functional requirements document, the requirements determine what Use Cases the CRM system will have, and many of the requirements will become the business logic in the Use Cases. Use Cases more easily clarify how CRM users will interact best with your selected CRM.
Next up in our series is "Getting to Effective CRM Use Cases"