5 Ways to Maintain Accurate Data

5 Ways to Maintain Accurate Data

Written By: Michael Ramatowski, MCP, Brad Vorbeck, MCP, Jennifer Espelien

from July 8, 2014


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With the recent Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2014 Spring Wave release, everyone is talking mobility, social listening, and marketing automation. But what good is any of this without accurate data in your CRM solution? Read on as Microsoft Gold-certified expert Turnkey Technologies shares tips to encourage user adoption and data maintenance to result in more sales for your business.

Customer relationship management provides powerful tools to your sales, marketing, service, and project management teams. But those tools aren’t so powerful when the data that drives them is outdated, inaccurate, and improperly maintained. Accurate data in any CRM solution is the sole driving force behind every benefit you can achieve with CRM. If it isn’t accurate, your business will suffer from missed opportunities otherwise available with high-quality data driving the CRM solution.

This is why maintaining data accuracy in your Microsoft Dynamics CRM database is an absolute must. If you want your data to be useful and relevant, it has to reflect reality. From our years of experience working with various Microsoft Dynamics CRM users in a multitude of industries, it’s apparent that inaccurate data is the most common reason why many companies do not receive the greatest possible return on their investment.

While there are plenty of methods to manage data, here are five best practices that literally any organization can implement so they can lean into their software with confidence and put their data to work.

1. Standardize the Data Entry Process
Define the practices you want your users to follow when entering data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Having a structured process laid out for this provides consistency and ensures data quality from the moment it enters the system. A great way to standardize this process is to create a company-wide CRM data entry guide. The guide should include information such as the solution’s primary goals in the organization, the various ways it should be applied to key tasks, and the importance of certain fields and record types for their use in segmentation and reporting. The CRM data entry guide should provide a structured process for populating key fields for each record type used within the organization. This step can be further ensured by configuring mandatory fields and the potential data entered for each record type. Consistent data is the goal of this practice.


2. Simplify the Data Entry Process
Make it easy, and perhaps even automated, for users to enter data correctly. An effective way to do this is to allow only valid entries to be entered into designated fields using filtered lookups.

Imagine this scenario: When entering a customer’s address into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the organization requires the user to enter the customer’s state or province. By default, the user is required to manually type in the state’s name. This can lead to errors in spelling or inconsistencies in format, such as entering the state’s name versus its abbreviation. Consider applying a drop-down list to the “state/province” field, where only one of 50 options is available. Each state is spelled correctly, and formatting is consistent. Now, misspelling the state or entering the wrong format has been made impossible. Imagine how well this can reduce the number of undelivered letters for a company that mails out 50,000 direct mail pieces each year!

Encouraging valid entry by restricting the number of options that can be entered into a field restricts the number of potential errors that can be made.

3. Merge Duplicate Data
Duplicate data is the number one reason for incomplete activity history between companies and their clients. In almost every case, duplicate customer records lead to duplicate follow-up calls and an incomplete view of your customer. How awkward! This happens because two or more records exist for the same customer, and that customer’s key data is scattered between the multiple records. A salesperson may document a phone call on one record, while the other record shows no indication of the phone call.

Deleting a duplicate record may lead to a loss in crucial information that wasn’t documented on the other record. Merging the two records combines the scattered information into one complete picture.

4. Use Pre-built and Configurable Security Role

Microsoft Dynamics CRM comes with pre-built job roles that determine a user’s access to records and system modifications. These roles can be customized to better fit the organization’s needs. This is a great feature for restricting access to records that don’t apply to certain users, or for assigning records to users who should manage them exclusively.

Establishing field level security roles will set certain fields to either be available as “Read Only” or perhaps not visible at all to certain users or levels of users. This is especially helpful when not all teams within an organization need to work with sensitive information potentially collected, such as social security numbers.

Most organizations have some mission-critical records that they don’t want just anyone to touch. Configuring your security roles applies those restrictions across the entire system and organization, keeping your sensitive records safe and accurate.

5. Prioritize User Adoption
Get your users onto Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and get them to love using it. The most effective CRM solution is one where its users understand its true value and aren’t afraid to dive in! A great way to facilitate user adoption is to conduct routine user meetings and request feedback, challenges, questions, and suggestions from the people working within the solution every day. When users are able to contribute and learn more about a colleague’s needs within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it not only provides valuable feedback from a user perspective, but it also fosters a sense of teamwork and fulfillment in their role. When onboarding new members, having a formal training process in place that clearly defines the importance of using Microsoft Dynamics CRM within the company helps to foster user adoption.

Furthermore, it’s important to develop a philosophy where Microsoft Dynamics CRM is fully integrated into your users’ job roles. In other words, properly using the solution should be considered part of the job, not just as a way to complete day-to-day tasks.

For huge improvements in your data accuracy and the ROI of your CRM solution, start by utilizing the five best practices above. Keep in mind that there are many additional measures one can take to further enhance the accuracy of their data. In fact, several large organizations have dedicated staff whose sole responsibility is to update, maintain, and clean their database.

Important Tip!

As an overall database best practice, we also encourage you to perform data audits on a regular basis. Audits help to indicate what data needs to be fixed, and they identify where your data entry processes need improvement.

Data integrity is important not only for the sake of the records themselves, but also for every single user throughout the organization that interacts with the record or its related contacts. By maintaining your CRM data, you protect your organization from unnecessary expenses, enhance the overall perception of your brand, and most importantly, serve your prospective and current clients efficiently.

To learn more about how Turnkey Technologies encourages data accuracy and provides the endless benefits of increasing user adoption among Microsoft Dynamics CRM, contact the Turnkey team at www.turnkeytec.com or 888-876-5393.