In working with a number of practices this year on CRM conversion and firm transitions, it only serves to amplify how critical it is to have a strong process around how information is handled.
The core of this business is about relationships - yet the core of all of the actions we take based on those working relationships is about the data. Much like when we discuss portfolio reporting and account aggregation (and frequently blame the aggregator instead of the source) it is garbage in begets garbage out.
As an example - a transitioning practice had a legacy CRM solution in place for 12 years, during the same period in which they experienced a staff turnover twice. To this group’s credit - the team that assembled three years ago is tight knit and have been building out processes to improve the workflows they carryout daily.
Unfortunately - this does not reverse the damage done with 9-10 years lacking a formal process for handling client information in systems. Thus building out transition paperwork was much more troubling than it needed to be. In this case, many tax ids were missing (35%), all driver license information was hard copy only in files (and never entered into systems) and all beneficiary information was kept in paper and not in the system with core client data. Re-papering 671 accounts with these obstacles is not easy business.
Again to their credit, they knew the business challenge existed and were moving toward choosing a new CRM and simply let the clock run out on getting the data cleaned and migrated into a modern system prior to transitioning. The lessons learned are invaluable - both for why modern CRM systems are constructed differently (integration, workflows, tied to calendaring and mobility) and why following process matters all of the time and not just when it is convenient.
As a contrast - a recent transition with nearly a thousand accounts took a practice that had updated their client database five days to get all forms pre-filled, households assembled and all paperwork out the door in the mail for review and signatures.
This current and more troubled transition took twice as long and data was still missing on many forms that needed handheld attention before being posted and mailed.
To put some context behind why these two were compared - both had the same number of product companies (eight) and two custodians. They were even in the same neighborhood on registration types (twelve for one and 10 for the other).
Key Areas of Focus for CRM Data