How to Develop a CRM Data Quality Strategy

By Geoffrey James

When it comes to CRM few things are more important than data integrity, according to Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM, Inc., a firm that focuses on CRM research, market analysis and consulting. “Data integrity consists of both data cleansing and data management, core components of every successful CRM program,” he explains. Goldenberg recommends companies take a systematic approach to ensuring that data quality is an integral part of a CRM implementation. Here is his advice.

1. Develop a data integrity strategy at the outset of CRM program implementation. The strategy should include documenting current data inventory, developing data standards, cleansing existing data and developing processes to maintain, change and enhance data quality.

2. Determine the cost and benefit of integrating existing data before commencing the integration. In some cases it may be less expensive and time consuming to recreate or reenter data than to integrate and convert existing data sources.

3. Understand what it will take to provide sales teams with a unified customer view. This may require building a master enterprise data architecture that encapsulates the important information about each customer.

4. Set up a data quality audit task force that includes employees who use customer data at various levels in your organization. This task force should review and check management data for quality on a regular basis.

5. Launch a data quality program focused on maintaining a high-quality data standard. To do this, implement integrated automated data management tools that accurately check addresses and postal codes. These tools also should contain business logic to make sure the data follows naming conventions for product names and so on.

Account intelligence program are an interesting addition to existing CRM tools that can help companies achieve a higher level of data integrity. These programs access existing company and organization databases and insert the information automatically into the CRM database. This allows companies to fully populate customer records with a minimum of human effort.

For example, the Account Intelligence for Salesforce application from the Massachusetts-based CRM vendor Onesource accesses approximately three million company profiles. These profiles feature key executive contacts, financial data, corporate structure, analyst reports and company news. The application helps companies load their CRM system with customer information while simultaneously cleansing outmoded customer data. Ideally this process should make customer data both more consistent and accurate.

Goldenberg says one of the most critical factors in ensuring data integrity is top management’s realization that data quality is important. Regardless of whether or not automated tools are applied to the problem, management must be willing to invest resources to achieve data integrity.

The above is adapted from information provided by CRM consultant and expert Barton Goldenberg, who has helped numerous companies select and implement successful CRM systems. He can be contacted at 301-656-8448 or through www.ismguide.com. The information about account intelligence is based on materials from Onesource.