Best Practices for Economic Development Organizations
Everyone knows economic development organizations must maintain accurate company, contact, project, and BRE data. Protecting and nurturing this information is critical for the long-term health of the organization. A well-managed CRM is the only way to capture and manage this mission-critical data.
Frequently, CRM is the first thing moved to the backburner when the unexpected occurs. And, in most cases, that is the correct decision. Last-minute site visits or RFP requests are high visibility and time-sensitive. The challenge is to make sure CRM isn’t completely forgotten.
Where to Start
Forbes magazine’s “Best Practices For Data Hygiene” article details the process of auditing and maintaining an organization’s contact records. Based on my background with CRMs in the economic development space, I would like to offer my best practices. It all starts with “The Audit”.
The audit doesn’t require an overly complex analysis of the entire data set. A sample will provide insight into the overall data hygiene of the CRM. A series of basic reports are a great place to start:
- Created date: Companies created more than three years ago may need updating in areas such as new/improved products and services; primary contact information; expansion locally or abroad and new worker counts.
- Last modified date: Contact information that hasn’t been updated in more than three years is likely to be inaccurate. These days contacts are likely to have moved to a new role or organization or left the organization.
- Email verification: Invalid email accounts are a sure sign that contact has left the organization. According to CNBC, at least one in four people quit their job this year, and the share could grow before the end of 2021.
- Conrin’s email verification service identifies contacts with invalid email addresses. Records with bad email addresses are tagged as “Inactive” in Salesforce.com.
Your CRM data has been entered by many people over the years, so don’t be surprised if there is a lot to do. Don’t, however, bite off more than you can chew. Data hygiene is a continuous process. Look for low-hanging fruit and move on from there. The best place to start is with your contact records.
Contact information is typically the largest “bucket” of dirty data within a CRM (see above). Review the reports created during the audit:
- Start with the highest priority records by criteria
- Companies and contacts associated with projects
- BRE-related contacts
- Investor contacts
- Contacts related to companies within key industry sectors
- Take advantage of Conrin’s new contact validation service. Contact email addresses are validated using an automated process. The service provides both a dashboard and status report email status for all contacts managed within the CRM database.
Upon client approval, Conrin electronically tags records as “Inactive” within the contact record in Salesforce.com. This process provides the ability to filter inactive contacts while retaining communication records, notes, and files for future reference to leverage email validation to quickly identify and update invalid contacts.
Data Quality Guardrails
Now that you have made the first step into the world of data hygiene to implement guardrails to ensure ongoing data hygiene.
- Implement the change to leverage the Salesforce.com dupe blocking feature. It helps prevent duplicate entry in real-time (and it’s free!).
- Analyze field utilization. Simple is good. If a field isn’t needed, remove it.
- Search for multiple fields with the same purpose. Example:
- County picklist – Morgan County
- County text – Morgan Cty; Morgan; Morgan County
- Disable and remove the text field (this can be done electronically)
- Remove unused tabs and page components to simplify navigation and data entry.
- Training – Do not underestimate the importance of training team members on the importance of quality data entry compliance.
- Ongoing review – Running reports every six months is a great place to start. You will be able to spot areas that need to be addressed before you fall back into the data hygiene nightmare!
Repeat. Data hygiene is an ongoing process!
Conrin is offering a complimentary audit that includes the following:
- Field and page layout analysis and recommendations to improve accurate data entry.
- Summary contact verification based on email deliverability report.
- A formal report outlining findings and recommendations for moving forward.
- A follow-up call to review findings and recommendations.