Time to Plug Gaps in your SFA, as a post-COVID restructuring

Most CXO’s and business leaders are cautious to comment on the status-quo of their Salesforce automation software. Those who have not implemented it, feel an automation void and want to jump onto the bandwagon someday soon, and those who have, respect them as complex entities and if given a chance would go back and do things better in terms of a more suitable product, tighter implementation, more levers of adoption, and a data visualisation tool from day One. This is specially true for tier-2 and tier-3 FMCG manufacturing companies who have been slow on the automation curve.

Having said that, in our interactions with these highly capable entrepreneurs and professionals, they have a clear idea of their wish-list in tech products like a customer relationship management (CRM) or salesforce automation (SFA). In fact, their wishlist is sometimes so futuristic vis-a-vis their organisational maturity, that it proves to be a detterent to an intermediate reality.

This blog is an attempt to share ideas with CXO’s and business leaders on the typical gaps in enterprise software and how they can bring to forefront, automation projects which they have been pushing in the backburner for years due to the perceived risks and seemingly high opportunity costs. And how the COVID breakdown is providing an opportunity to plug the “known, unknown, must-do and good-to-do” gaps in the existing CRM or SFA by allocating a certain percentage of the “cumulative available organisational time” which the lockdown has freed up.

Top Opportunities

Enterprise software implemetation can be broadly divided into four phases –  master data preparation, business process mapping, user training and adoption leading to business-as-usual. Although gaps are created at every phase of execution, in our view, the first two phases are the most critical, often handed over to the bottom-of-the-pyramid resources, get least attention of senior stakeholders, and are the hardest to rectify later.

Let’s look at two opportunity areas that are typically sidelined during implementations and if taken up as turnkey projects during the post-COVID restructuring phase, can result in excellent return on effort in terms of CRM adoption, effectiveness, and data insights:

1) Plug Master Data Gaps

Codification is a methodology to identify any element of an enterprise software (say a product or a customer) using unique, easily readable, numeric or alpha-numeric codes which are defined by relevant stakeholders with utmost care because one, they are the building blocks of the software and second, any change required in them at a later stage can be very painstaking.

During post-COVID restructuring, we recommend Indian FMCG companies to introduce or improve the codification of their master data along the following lines:

  1. Business division codification
  2. Sales branch codification
  3. SKU category codification
  4. SKU codification
  5. Vendor codification
  6. Customer codification
  7. Employee codification

In addition to codification, every master data is associated with a short and a long description (difference being the length of the characters). The purpose of a short description is to support in visual representations where the long description may be difficult to accommodate. A common problem with these descriptions is that they are not accurate due to special characters, spelling errors, white spaces are more.

We recommend following these best practices and cleaning up the description during COVID:

  1. Trim white spaces around the text string
  2. Remove all special characters (unless its mandatory part of a description like company name). For example, ampersand should be replaced by “and”, apostrophe by “-” and so on.
  3. Rectify spelling errors
  4. Write short description intelligently so that it helps in MIS
  5. Upgrade your CRM/SFA to include a self-correcting algorithm

Uploading historical data is very important in CRM or SFA implementation because it provides baseline numbers for the new software and allows meaningful comparison once the software in adopted. Many FMCG companies miss this important step because one, it is a painful exercise in terms of manual effort required for digitisation of one or two or three years of data and second, implementation vendors typically want to start on clean slate. Peri recommends:

  1. Digitise at least previous financial year, preferrably two previous financial years
  2. Keep fields for legacy codes or descriptions in the new software so that data match can easily happen
  3. Follow the 80:20 accuracy principle

2) Plug Business Process Gaps

How many times have you seen a situation blow out of proportions because someone in the team did not follow a business process? And when asked, nobody remembers what the exact business process was. And then blame-game starts, old emails and documents are searched and after multiple iterations, the right business process is uncovered.

The root cause of this is that process was not documented and archived properly during CRM or SFA implementation. As part of post-COVID restructuring, Peri recommends:

  1. Create flowcharts for each business process (without cutting corners)
  2. Using Microsoft Visio or modern web-based flow chart tools
  3. Each process should have a maker, checker and a sign-off authority
  4. All flowcharts should have a small description or supporting text
  5. The entire docket should get printed and distributed to the connected functions (for example flowchart of daily attendance of sales reps should be distributed to HR, accounts, MIS and Sales managers)
  6. Every time a change of process happens, it should be added to the flowchart as an amendment

Not a lot of Indian organisations implement continuous workforce improvement as a concept and organisational culture. They often resort to periodic training and voluntary development initiatives. For FMCG sales hierarchy, that are often out of office, this becomes an even more difficult proposition. As part of post-COVID restructuring, Peri recommends:

  1. Prepare a training and quizzing calendar and circulate
  2. Attach basic powerpoint based slides for reference
  3. Use Google Forms to create quizzes
  4. Publish the result publicly and give opportunity for retesting
  5. Attach some sort of reward, competition for achievers and penalty for low scorers.

How many times have you seen MIS numbers getting challenged in monthly meetings by the person who was accountable for that number in the first place. This happens when data preparation and presentation happens centrally, either by a MIS team or by sales leaderdship themselves. As part of post-COVID restructuring, Peri recommends:

  1. Give complete accountability to the owner of that number
  2. Including extracting the numbers from the CRM or SFA
  3. Putting them in a presentation
  4. and presenting to the organisation during monthly meeting

This will lead to seriousness, ownership, and appreciation of the numbers and would start reflecting in the execution of the owner.

Why post-COVID?

As Indian FMCG companies begin to unlock and ramp-up sales numbers, they are conscious of these two realities in the post-Covid environment:

  1. Consumer behaviour has changed: consumers are no longer dependent on the neighbourhood kirana stores or the sprawling supermarkets. They have calibrated essential and non-essential needs and are buying with proper planning and consideration.
  2. Workforce behaviour has changed: employees are no longer the 9am-6pm robots with a defined workday, they are online and connected (often 10-14 hours a day), exploring multiple areas of execution, taking larger roles, and being more inclusive within their function.

This means that the enterprise software (CRM or SFA) has to churn out meaninful data on both the sales and workforce front, and make it available to the right stakeholder at the right time. And for that to happen seamlessly, the two opportunity areas we outlined above have to be spot on i.e. master data has to be precise, and business processes has to be super well defined and these should be supported with an easy-to-use, and scalable data visualisation tool.

Peri CRM recommends FMCG companies to closely evalute their enterprise software during post-Covid phase and if not optimally implemented, or well maintained or extensively used, begin that exercise ASAP.

How Can Peri Help?

Peri CRM is very strong on both master data and mapping a company’s business processes. As you can read in our previous blog posts:

  1. We have mapped Indian FMCG general trade business process 100%
  2. We have a unique implementation methodology that ensures 100% master data accuracy
  3. We work with companies 24/7 on end-user adoption
  4. We have highly experienced and skilled consultants
  5. We have Zoho CRM – a super easy, and scalable data visualisation platform

Free Assessment of your SFA

If you have a hunch that your SFA is not optimal for the post-Covid reality, its probably right. Do not wait for bottleneck, or a stalemate situation…..SAAS has changed the enterprise software paradigm across the world (and India is fast catching up).

If your SFA is three or more years old, its time to sit down with senior stakeholders and evaluate its capability and fitment going forward.

We are a call away (Skype/Zoom/Google meet) and can work with you to brainstorm gaps and prepare a detailed project proposal.


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