How to conduct a thorough CRM audit
A CRM audit is a time consuming but valuable process. An effective CRM is critical for many businesses, but audits are surprisingly rare – this is normally a mistake. A CRM audit is an excellent process to address key questions in your business.
What is a CRM audit?
A CRM audit allows you to review the effectiveness of your CRM, consequently, these audits can vary in scope and depth.
Here are a few different examples (there are many more):
Data audit: this focuses on whether the data contained within the CRM is accurate. This audit may assess the quality and depth of data or its accuracy. Another technique is to look at the accuracy of data over time to look at the rate of decay.
Usage audit: it has been widely reported that sales teams using CRM data are more effective. One type of audit is to look at how regularly sales teams are using CRM.
Fit-for-purpose audit: there are infinite ways a CRM can be set up; an audit to look at how the CRM configuration meets business needs is very common.
Effectiveness: most importantly a CRM audit will try to draw conclusions on the overall effectiveness of a CRM. This will involve reviewing the reasons for implementing the CRM.
Processes that should be considered during the CRM audit
A CRM audit should include the following:
- Review plans: original rationale for CRM implementation including any information on key metrics that were defined as important for evaluating the effectiveness of the CRM.
- Data assessment: a review of the data quality and how data is processed.
- Gaps: what the CRM does not do that would be a useful addition to the system.
- Utility: an assessment of what is key information in the CRM so that the most leveraged data can be highlighted and its importance reiterated.
- Results: what impact CRM has had on top-line business results like sales and customer churn.
- Employee satisfaction: how happy employees are with the CRM and how often they are actually utilizing it.
- Business metrics: a review of business metrics that relate to CRM usage, for example, the average time to close a lead.
- Project management: the audit may touch on CRM projects like ongoing improvements or the quality of periodic reviews.
- Governance: the processes put in place to ensure that the CRM meets regulatory obligations (like GDPR in Europe).
- Reporting: how effectively the reporting system provides useful and actionable data.
The steps of a CRM audit
- Review last assessment of implementation documentation
- Data assessment
- Usage review
- Regulatory requirements
1. Review last assessment or implementation documentation
It’s best practice to keep a requirements document for your CRM, which will outline what the CRM should help your business achieve and include some detail on features. The critical parts of the document are the benefits rather than the features.
Reviewing this document will help you assess whether your CRM is still achieving its purpose and it’ll give you an opportunity to review the purpose of your CRM – perhaps it has changed over time.
2. Data assessment
A data audit can have two main benefits: it can assess the quality of your data and meet regulatory requirements.
From a regulatory perspective, a data audit should help the business meet local regulatory standards, for example, in the UK the Information Commissioners Office states that a data audit should “determine where an organization has implemented the processes and procedures to regulate the processing of personal data”.
The second purpose is checking that data is high-quality and useful to the business. This will look at data stored in the CRM in terms of completeness and detail. This should pick up if data is decaying and whether users or APIs are updating the CRM effectively.
3. Usage review
This builds on point 2 and will look at how well the CRM is being used. Businesses often struggle to engage employees in using CRM, especially sales reps. Looking at who is using the CRM and with what consistency, as well as the quality of that usage, is important.
Once you have this information you can then look at ways to improve engagement; CRMs are often under-utilized because users don’t understand the importance of using them or indeed the benefits they will receive.
Part of the CRM audit process should involve going out into the business to watch people using the system and have open discussions with users on their experiences with it.
This process can include:
- Interviewing: it is insightful to ask users a range of questions, including the following: how useful do they find the system? What could be done to improve the CRM to help in their role? What problems are they facing with the CRM?
- Shadowing: actually watching people go about their job and assessing how the CRM supports or hinders their day-to-day work is very useful. This is most relevant with employees that have a high number of touch-points with the system.
- Survey: this is a nice way to scale interviews by getting a large number of responses. A larger data set helps to cut through one or two employees that have strong opinions and get a company-wide view. Giving respondents anonymity can help to extract their honest views. Of course, a survey is less detailed than an interview. Ideally, the surveys and interviews reinforce one another and point to similar issues.
Most CRMs integrate with other software; that could be a larger dataset or integration with email marketing or finance applications.
As part of an audit, these integrations should be tested. This test should look at whether they are working, plus a review of potential improvements. For example, are we using this API to its maximum utility? Is there another API that will suit our needs better?
Reporting covers internal dashboards that users engage with daily plus longer reports that can be reviewed by managers. An audit should look at whether these reports are working from a technical level, and whether from a business-level they are driving decisions and activities that are helpful to the business.
There can be a tendency to focus on the technical level, but the business questions that assess how information is used are also important. The reports should be used to inform decision making and they should do so in a way that helps achieve business goals.
7. Regulatory requirements
GDPR is a big deal in Europe right now and an audit should assess whether data supports compliance with this regulation. Anti-money laundering regulations and sanctions requirements will require many businesses to keep information in a certain way.
There are a myriad of other regulations that affect different industries and put pressure on a CRM to store the right data: financial services and the pharmaceutical industry are two heavily regulated industries, but there are many more.
A data audit should assess whether the processes set up in the CRM effectively support the business in meeting its compliance requirements.
At the end of the audit process, an auditing team should make an assessment of the CRM and recommend ways that the CRM can be improved.
These recommendations vary from essential to desirable. For example, an essential recommendation may be updating an integration because it isn’t working and a desirable recommendation may be to decrease the number of reporting modules to make management focus on critical sales metrics.
The audit can also make longer-term suggestions. For example, if the business has a five-year plan a good audit team may look at the CRM and make proactive suggestions for better ways to utilize it. This isn’t necessarily pointing out problems with the CRM but looking at ways to improve.
CRM evaluation checklist
This is an example of a very simple CRM evaluation checklist. It can be used as a framework and areas most pertinent to your business can be built out in more detail.
CRM audit checklist
|Is data being captured accurately?|
|Is data being captured at the appropriate time?|
|Does the data support business objectives?|
|Does the data support regulatory objectives?|
|Are users using the CRM as intended?|
|Is the consistency of use supporting business goals?|
|Is the quality of use supporting business goals?|
|Do users find the system useful?|
|Do users feel the system supports business goals?|
|Are users experiencing problems with the CRM?|
|Do users want to see specific improvements?|
|Are all CRM integrations working?|
|Are there CRM updates that need to be implemented?|
|Are there other integrations that may suit the CRM better?|
|Are the reports supporting business objectives?|
|Are the reports delivering the required information?|
|How can the reporting process be improved?|
|Does the CRM support compliance requirements?|
|Please list recommendations below including level of urgency|
A CRM audit is often seen as a technical process that evaluates whether a CRM is working effectively. To benefit further, an audit should consider whether the CRM supports business goals and ways it can be improved.
Featured white papers
CRM implementation guide
Plan your CRM implementation successfully with this comprehensive guideDownload
CRM software vendor directory
Save hours of CRM vendor research with this free guideDownload
CRM software selection checklist
Plan your CRM selection project with over 100 actionable steps to successDownload
Five reasons for CRM implementation failure
CRM implementation failure is all too common - but it is easy to avoid if you know how
The CRM implementation process: a six step plan for success
All the information you need to roll out your new CRM successfully
Do the benefits of CRM outweigh the costs for small businesses?
The benefits of CRM for small businesses and if it's really worth it