As 2012 comes to close, it’s time to reflect upon the year that was in the world of CRM.

Working with many organizations over the course of the year, I have heard varying perspectives of the importance of CRM and what it actually means to an organization. However, one prevalent theme that was evident is “the source of truth.” As someone that preaches the value and importance of a well-managed CRM, it is so refreshing to hear organizations regard their CRM as the source of truth and not simply a transactional database to track addresses and donations.

What does it mean to be “the source of truth?”

Does it mean that data is accurate (hence, true) so it is reliable? As the old adage goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” If data isn’t entered correctly, or entered at all, it can’t be considered reliable. Organizations have spent a tremendous amount of time defining business processes that govern data management techniques. As 2012 comes to a close, pause to reflect on the data integrity issues that surfaced in your CRM throughout the year. Start 2013 off with a review of the policies and procedures governing the management of those data elements to ensure that they are effective and that you won’t spend 2013 addressing the same challenges you dealt with in 2012.

Does it mean that it’s the sole source of data? Are shadow databases effectively being eliminated? As organizations adopt a true CRM, the spreadsheets that have become such a common element throughout organizations to track specific activities must go away. Without eliminating the multiple data sources, CRM will never reflect the truth. Take a moment to compile a few high-level statistics that are meaningful about challenges that resulted from data being tracked in shadow databases? Can you easily discern how much was spent on returned mail for mailings that were sent from an outdated spreadsheet as opposed to CRM where the data was accurate? Share these statistics with users to show why shadow data is a bad practice. Identify the types of data being tracked in spreadsheets and work with users to understand why they don’t track this data in CRM. Use the early part of 2013 to refine your data management approach so the types of data being tracked externally can be tracked in CRM to eliminate the shadow databases.

If you spend the final days of 2012 reflecting back upon your CRM experience and the challenges you faced, you are laying the foundation to ensure that you, too, can rely on your CRM to be the source of truth in 2013!

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