CRM : Visualization and User Adoption

Is your Organization happy about its CRM adoption?.

There are exceptions than the rule, to see a CRM deployed for Sales team without any user adoption challenges. This may not be the case for “Service” side deployment. As for as Service side is concerned, if rolled out,¬†CRM becomes bread & butter and they don’t have an option than using it ūüôā

Though there are many reasons / solutions to handle user adoption challenges, one that really ticks among sales community is presenting stunning actionable visuals in the form of reports / dashboards right on their home page that helps them to perform their day to day activity.

Let me present a couple of examples here…Let us say you like to present a Quota versus Attainment report for a sales manager at the home page of CRM. An easy to do option that is commonly available in most of the CRM platforms is to present a “table widget”¬†on the home page like below

It perfectly conveys the information that you like to share as it displays by every team member the Quota versus Attaintment details.

But if you notice in today’s world, it could potentially be lot better from UX standpoint. Few¬†gaps to highlight on the above simple table view are below

  • It doesn’t really help me to compare one versus others visually
  • It doesn’t give me any info on where the individual stands in terms of his performance as of that date
  • Doesn’t provide any additional details to drill down more to understand what makes his quota or attainment
  • No context sensitive actions available to act on it if you notice something alarming e.g. say simply you want to call for a meeting with the underperforming sales rep.

Let us change the above to something like below

You very much see it for yourself, the difference.

It is visually appealing, helps me to compare one versus other, has visual (color) cues on where the individual stands, on mouse over provides me more information, the small circle gives you an indication on the number of Open opportunities in his pipeline and provides a “click to drill down” facility to drill down to the details

So in essence anyone embarking on an exercise to improve their CRM user adoption, better consider Visualization as a key improvement area to see a definitive improvement in adoption rate.


Kanban and CRM

Are you wondering what is the relation between Kanban and CRM? The Google definition of Kanban is below

“Japanese manufacturing system in which the supply of components is regulated through the use of a card displaying a sequence of specifications and instructions, sent along the production line.”

The word in bold and italics holds the link between Kanban and CRM.

Traditionally in CRM systems the opportunities are managed by a set of well-defined Sales Process that takes the Opportunity through a set of stages like Appointment Scheduled, Qualified to Buy, Presentation Scheduled, POC Scheduled, Decision Maker Bought In, Contract Sent, Closed / Won and Closed / Lost etc.

Basically, sales stages are a sequence of specifications & instructions¬†like Kanban to handle the Opportunity in a structured manner to ensure high success rate. The stages are a sample representation only and can vary / can be customized depending on Organization’s Sales Process.

If you see an Opportunity as a component, then it is basically subjected to these process steps to reach to an end state as in Kanban but the way the way Opportunities is typically displayed to the end users in CRM systems is a simple list view that is used to display any other business data like Accounts, Contacts etc. A sample representation is below

If you click an Opportunity, the Opportunity is displayed in a 2 column layout presenting the Opportunity details

Recently many of the CRM providers started presenting the Opportunity list and Opportunity detail using Kanban as a Metaphor and it makes a lot of sense from a User Experience standpoint. A sample representation of a list view in Kanban way is below

As you see above it neatly displays to the users the list of Opportunities (Metaphor to Components in Kanban) under Various sales stages and provides a drag and drop option for the users to promote the Opportunities from one stage to another stage (drag and drop, Metaphor of putting through a set of instructions). Similarly, in the detailed view, the Opportunity detail is presented as below

You can set the stages as appropriate (point and click with all visual cues that tell precisely where you stand on this opportunity) and take the Opportunity to a closure and  in each stage showing fields of relevance / importance to that stage.

This is a welcoming change though the adoption of Metaphor in CRM world is a very late….There are many other applications designed to handle tasks management, agile project management etc using Kanban view in today’s app world.

Security and Usability – Always off on a tangent?

I am sure a simple google search on the above topic should return100s of articles right from issues related to infrastructure security to physical security ūüôā …I believe if designers put a little bit extra effort in treading this carefully, it can make a big difference for end users.

A recent experience that made everyone in my house go crazy is here.

It all started yesterday night at 11 PM with a sharp beep followed by a loud warning saying “Low Battery”. “Loud” meaning even if you tightly close your ears, you will still hear it ….:)

I was hearing this sound first time and after a little search around identified that it came from the “Smoke Detector”. ¬†Obviously, it was going to run out of battery and hence this warning ….

But the sad part was this nuisance went on and on with this message “Low Battery” for the entire night¬†beeping every minute not letting any of us sleep (except my children as they are least bothered on anything happening around)

I know as a user of the device, I have to ensure the battery is replaced otherwise I am putting the entire house under risk but a warning of this nature can’t be “killing”

Looking back, What could have been done differently without a big compromise on security in this small little device?

  • A¬†reduced frequency of this warning (once in an hour or half an hour) so that at least we would have slept before it makes the next warning ūüôā
  • Designed with a battery specification that is commonly available in house like (AA or AAA)
  • A button to reset and post reset it triggers only after a day so that it ensures I am notified but also reminds me later
  • etc

I believe we encounter these challenges in applications from CRM used in corporate settings to mobile applications that we use every day.

I believe a little bit of extra effort to design for security without compromising on usability would definitely make it a winning application

(The story went on till today evening (At some point we got used to it) as finally, I got time to go around to get a replacement battery)

MyHours – A brilliant “free to use tool” to track your time

I am one among few in my Organization who has the luxury to use an application of my choice to track my time :), ever since we made that mandatory in our Organization.

The application rest of my Organization uses is a beast with so many functions / features beyond tracking time that makes time-tracking a painful activity. It is neither simple nor user-friendly.

Since then my pursuit towards finding a nice tool that helps me to track my personal time (without much complexities) went on and on till I ended with www.myhours.coma few months ago.

I am not sure whether I would pursue the advanced paid features in the tool in near future so I thought as a courtesy would write this blog to promote this application

The signup doesn’t take more than few minutes and you can set-up your basic data to track your time in less than 30 minutes. The set-up is very simple

  • Create list of clients you work with (Each form not exceeding 5 to 7 fields)
  • Create projects and associate to the Clients
  • Create generic tasks that you can associate with one or more of the projects

Once you are done with the above, you are all set to track your time not only in your Desktop but also in your Mobile / tablets phone too (Spica My Hours).

You can use an On / Off switch to manage the accuracy of time spent to the last second (Simple press “On” before you start working on it and “off” once you are done) or you can do a backlog accounting by specifying the start time / end time or just simply enter the total time spent on that task.

It also provides brilliant dashboard to slice and dice to analyze your time spent and also simple list report to filter and extract the report to share with your manager

If your needs are simple / you are an independent consultant go for it …

I am sure their advanced paid options to manage projects in a multi-user environment with advanced reporting should be¬†great too …

Brilliant job

Image Courtesy :