How to increase transparency in business with a unified CRM Business & tech by MATT KEENER April 23, 2020 Most business leaders say they want more transparency. But what does transparency actually mean? Is it just another buzzword that sounds good on paper but is impossible to achieve in reality? How does increasing transparency correlate to the success of a company? In this post, we’ll explore how to foster transparency with the right mix of processes, people, and systems. The importance of transparency in business Let’s start with some basic etymology. The word “transparency” traces its roots to the Latin word transparere (trans = ”through,” and parere = “appear”). The related medieval Latin equivalent, transparent, means “shining through.” You might be asking how a “dead language” is remotely relevant to your business. Fair question. In this case, the Latin provides an excellent starting point for understanding the importance of transparency in business. Stop and consider the attitudes, processes, data, and cultural norms that “shine through” your business. Are your people equipped with the information and tools they need to stay informed, do their jobs, and feel motivated to consistently elevate performance? Or, is something else shining through—things like bad data, confusion, and frustration? Achieving true transparency across every facet of the company To achieve transparency in business, leaders and staff must align around the free flow of open and honest communication. One-sided transparency is not true transparency. A sales leader, for example, who demands constant pipeline feedback from SDRs but fails to share macro-level data back to his team is not being transparent. Organizations that achieve true transparency do so through proactive cultivation, which includes the following: Company culture A healthy company culture encourages each team member to think creatively, actively share his or her ideas, and look for new ways to help the company succeed. Smart companies identify ways to help their staff feel valued and essential to the customer journey. Organizational structure Transparency cannot begin and end at the departmental level. Departmental transparency is a good start, but its impact will never fully be realized when silos exist. A unified business approach, on the other hand, entails breaking down artificial walls between teams, including sales, marketing, and customer service. It also fosters a data-driven culture across the entire company. This is where choosing the right technology to help teams align and integrate key processes and improve collaboration becomes crucial to ensuring long-term success. Business systems Technology decisions are often made to fulfill a specific need. A marketing team needs a way to send out special offers, so they implement an email marketing system. An operations team needs a way to manage to-dos and due dates, so they begin using a project management tool. Over time, the net result is a myriad of overlapping systems that make transparency difficult. Transparency-minded organizations base technology decisions around solving user needs without creating new barriers to transparency. Overcoming transparency roadblocks with a unified CRM Zooming in on business systems for a moment, one of the most important platform-level decisions pertains to CRM technology. Companies switch CRMs for a variety of reasons—not the least of which includes increasing organizational transparency. Implementing a unified CRM (i.e., one that integrates sales, marketing, and operational data under one roof) can accelerate a company’s ability to overcome roadblocks to transparency. Here’s how. One source of truth for the entire customer journey Understanding the customer journey is complicated even with one system. When customer data is stored in your CRM, email data is stored in a second system, and transactional data is maintained in a third, managing the customer journey becomes almost impossible. Unifying all of your customer data into your CRM provides a clearer field of vision and eliminates complicated, unnecessary data integrations. Teams spend less time mapping fields, fixing broken data feeds, and writing code, and more time on what matters most: engaging customers and growing the business. Centralized platform for team collaboration Emails. Instant messages. Texts. Shared documents. There are many places that your team members collaborate. Unfortunately, when data is spread across multiple locations, transparency suffers. When your CRM solves the basic data and process requirements of multiple departments and teams, staff are more motivated to actually use it for ongoing collaboration. As a result, data silos decrease and the value of your CRM increases. Reporting and visualizations on day one Part of the challenge with becoming more transparent is providing information back to users in an intuitive, meaningful, and scalable way. The mere task of ingesting data from multiple systems, wrapping it into usable reports and visualizations, and keeping data fresh can consume significant amounts of effort and technical know-how. Organizing all of your customer data (or as much of it as possible) into your CRM is a better approach, especially when the CRM provider offers prebuilt data reports and business intelligence (BI) visualizations. Users get the real-time information they need sooner, thereby elevating transparency without the upfront cost and effort of starting from scratch. Measuring productivity in a highly scalable way Requiring staff to manually report on their activity is a waste of time. (It’s also annoying for your team members who feel like they’re being babysat.) By contrast, when users have access to everything they need in your CRM—including clearly defined tasks, pipelines, and milestones—productivity tracking becomes just another metric that is natively measured. As projects advance and tasks are completed, data flows seamlessly into top-level dashboards and reports. Users no longer have to remember what they worked on or update mind-numbing spreadsheets. Your unified CRM does all of that tracking for you by design. Shine forth with a renewed sense of transparency Achieving organizational transparency requires an ongoing commitment from leadership and staff along with the right mix of systems and processes. By investing in the right technology—starting with a unified CRM—your company will be laying the groundwork for a more transparent, successful future. Ready to see a unified CRM at work? Request a demo with an Insightly rep to get a free needs assessment and find solutions that will help you bring more transparency to your organization. Request a demo Data visualization | Project management | Sales Force Automation MATT KEENER Matt Keener is a digital marketer and President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC. In addition to consulting for Insightly and other SaaS clients, Matt enjoys blogging about remote work. Get Matt’s top-rated book or connect with him on LinkedIn.