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Business Processes are Vitally Important—But When Should They Be Developed?
All About CRM / Oct 27, 2015 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 181 

Business Processes are Vitally Important—But When Should They Be Developed?

Yes, business processes are crucial to company operation. A company functions far more efficiently with formalized processes. When a system guides you to the next best action there is much less chance to miss an action or a step, thus loose an opportunity. In fact, when a company has, for example, a defined sales process in place, the win rates tends to exceed 50% for 2/3 of those companies.

When to Develop

So when should you develop business processes? On the surface, it might seem wholly logical to fully think through and evolve entire business processes right at the beginning, when the business is starting up. It’s a bit like “know before you go,” having a plan before you dive in.

You then stick to these processes and utilize them as your business grows. Hopefully your processes were thought through and developed well enough that they work to bring the business to success.

This methodology can be seen today in some CRM applications. As part of CRM implementation, you fully define your sales processes and other applicable business processes (such as lead generation and marketing). You then utilize these fully developed processes going forward.

What could go wrong? Unfortunately, quite a bit. And yes, there is a far better way to go.

A Software Development Analogy

Fully planning out your business processes before you start, and then sticking to them hoping they will work, is a lot like the early Waterfall Development Model used in software development.

The Waterfall Development Model had all the basic planning done right at the beginning. It then flowed downward (like a waterfall) through initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production/implementation and maintenance.

More than 12 years ago, we at Pipeliner realized that the Waterfall model was a wrong concept. 10 years ago we began programming in what is called Scrum Methodology. This is a far more flexible method through which software is developed in iterations. Each iteration is tested, further coded, then incorporated, and so on. With such a method changes can be made to the original idea as needed.

The key is this: as you progress you will discover that there is a better way to do things. If all your planning has been done up front with no allowance for change, then you’re stuck with your original pattern even if it doesn’t really work for you. In programming, this can be a very expensive mistake.

Business Processes and CRM

The same is true for business processes. If everything is planned out up front, with little to no room left for change as you go along, you’re totally ignoring a crucial factor: business is a dynamic operation. It is living, it is changing. And if your processes aren’t designed to do the same, those changes will only cause you problems.

The primary process utilized within a CRM application is the sales process. Any company will have some idea of a sales process before they begin, and will sketch it out. But as they move through time, it will be discovered that there are missing steps in the sales process, as well as better and faster ways of selling. If your sales process within CRM is unchangeable or difficult to change, or if your company is reluctant to change, your sales reps will eventually just ignore that sales process—and eventually CRM.

The same is true for processes within the sales process—activities and tasks that get you through each stage of the sales process—as well as other processes such as marketing and customer maintenance. These must be capable of rapid change on the fly.

Seller and Buyer Interaction

Another factor that a fixed business process doesn’t take into account is that sales is not a 1-way street, but an interaction. A seller will do something, and will require an action from the buyer before the opportunity can move forward. For example, the seller sends the buyer a demo. The buyer should run the demo and provide positive feedback to it before being moved to the next stage of the process.

A sales process must take this interaction into account, and allow and plan for both sides of the activity.

The Pipeliner Difference

Pipeliner CRM was developed with dynamic processes in mind. Pipeliner is instantly adaptable to a company’s sales process—and can be changed within minutes on the fly when the need arises.

The same is true for all tasks and activities within a sales process stage: these are rapidly established and can be changed instantly on the fly as needs arise. These are based both on seller and buyer actions—and both are required for sale to move forward. We are the only CRM solution to take this critical factor into account.

Additionally, Pipeliner was one of the first CRM solutions to institute multiple pipelines (processes) because we know that companies often require more than one process. All pipelines share a common database so that opportunities can be moved wholly, with all information, from one to the other.

Leading and Lagging Indicators

Pipeliner also provides both leading and lagging indicators that allow you to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of your processes.

Lagging indicators—such as total sales, number of items sold, gross revenue and the like—show you the final result. Leading indicators, such as leads created, opportunities moved from one stage to the next, and activities accomplished, show you how well you are heading toward the establishment of your lagging indicators.

Being able to constantly monitor and evaluate processes allows a business to make changes immediately when they are needed, as opposed to the end of a sales period (a quarter or a year) when it is too late.

So when should you evolve your processes? Of course they start at the beginning. But in fact they continue to be developed and refined as time goes on. You must be able to change and evolve processes as the needs of your business change and evolve. There is no other way to go.

Find out how Pipeliner CRM incorporates and empowers your processes. Download a free trial.

About Author

A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipeliner Sales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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