5 common CRM workarounds you should quit now


“We can create a workaround for that use case.” Sure you can. But should you?

CRM workarounds come in many shapes and sizes—and for a number of reasons. Feature set limitations, plan level restrictions, inadequate training, and subpar user adoption are often the primary culprits.

Regardless of the cause, CRM workarounds usually end up creating more confusion than clarity. In this post, we’ll share five common CRM workarounds, why they’re bad for your business, and how to avoid them.

5 CRM workarounds (& why they’re bad)

Be on the lookout for these five CRM workarounds. You might be surprised by their negative consequences on your business:

1. Sharing passwords

Most CRMs—including Insightly—license their technology on a monthly (or annual) per-user model. Purchasing licenses for every member of the organization can add up quickly, especially for midsize and large organizations with dozens or hundreds of users. As a result, some companies try to manage rising CRM costs by “sharing” user accounts instead of creating new ones.

Why it’s bad: In addition to obvious ethical considerations, sharing passwords creates numerous transparency and data integrity challenges. If a large amount of data is accidentally deleted by a shared account, how can you possibly pinpoint the responsible party? If a task is assigned to a shared user account, who is responsible for getting the work done? How can you guarantee compliance with data security regulations when multiple users have unfettered access to sensitive business data—without proper oversight? You can’t.

2. Building unnecessary integrations

To survive and thrive in the 21st century, you need an arsenal of cloud-based tools and business systems. In addition to CRM technology, many companies rely on third-party email marketing tools, social media schedulers, web analytics platforms, content management systems, keyword analyzers, document repositories, SEO software—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maintaining a strategic view across dozens of disintegrated software applications can be difficult, which is why some companies try to integrate everything to their CRM.

Why it’s bad: This is not a case against CRM integrations, but rather against enabling the wrong integrations. Each integration that you build should deliver significant business value. After all, there’s a real cost to configure and maintain each integration. Be sure to consider whether the value outweighs the upfront API development work (or plan level upgrade). For example, does your marketing team really need to sync upcoming social media posts to their CRM calendars? Or, will this integration soon become forgotten—or, worse, create new distractions that reduce productivity?

3. Force-fitting bad processes

Switching CRMs represents an excellent opportunity to challenge the efficiency of pre-existing processes. Perhaps that 22-step checklist for quoting new business can (and should) be slimmed down. Unfortunately, some companies take the opposite approach and force-fit their “way of doing things” into their new CRM—while expecting different results.

Why it’s bad: CRMs are built to help your company leverage relationships more effectively, grow faster, and reduce waste. Therefore, force-fitting a bad process into your CRM misses the entire point of adopting a CRM.

4. Exports, exports, exports

“I’ll do a fresh export and run a VLOOKUP so we can massage the data.”

What is it with people and spreadsheets? Why is “massaging” data easier or less risky in a spreadsheet than in a CRM? Granted, a spreadsheet does not contain “live” data, so the risk of accidentally deleting important information is reduced. But spreadsheets come with their own set of unique challenges that make it impossible to maintain data integrity.

Why it’s bad: Each exported data file creates a new data silo that previously did not exist within your organization. True, most spreadsheets are promptly deleted after the data is re-imported back into your CRM. But, in the event of a security breach, what would happen to exports that were accidentally or purposefully retained on a compromised end-user device? Despite your company’s previous efforts to consolidate all customer data into your CRM, exported data files silently increase your exposure to information loss.

5. Over-customizing

Your sales reps want to know as much as possible about their potential clients. Marketers need detailed insights to understand personas and their buyer journeys. Success teams require quick access to holistic customer data to provide a meaningful experience.

In short, each stakeholder group has unique data needs, which can lead to never-ending requests for custom objects and data fields. As a result, CRM administrators often find themselves feeling pressured into unnecessary customizations.

Why it’s bad: When aligned with your business goals and strategically deployed, CRM customizations deliver measurable value. However, when implemented haphazardly, customizations create unnecessary confusion that accelerates misalignment. Does your success team really want to scroll through dozens of unused data fields (that were requested by the sales team) when providing customer support? Conversely, do sales reps want to be bombarded by support ticket transcripts when upselling or cross-selling? Of course not.

Avoiding CRM workarounds

So, how can you prevent CRM workarounds in your business? Here are a few recommendations.

Think long-term

We get it. Software licenses are not cheap. On the other hand, there’s a tangible cost to information loss and unscalable business processes that keeps rising with time. Maintain a long-term perspective and don’t be lured into bad decision-making just to save a few bucks.

Understand what you already have (and know how to use it)

Many CRM workarounds could be entirely avoided with proper training and onboarding. CRMs are robust systems, which means there’s a lot to learn. Familiarize yourself with the entire feature set that you’re already paying for. Then, implement policies and procedures to ensure that you’re maximizing the system to its full potential. If your CRM offers built-in workflows, you might be able to lessen your reliance on external automation platforms like Zapier.

Keep it simple

Could your CRM completely eliminate the need for other software that you’re currently using? For example, a CRM that offers sales and marketing under one roof might reduce your dependency on third-party marketing platforms, thereby simplifying your tech stack and limiting unnecessary integrations (aka workarounds).

Trust the system that you’ve built

You must be able to trust your CRM and the processes that you build around it. If you can’t trust your CRM, maybe it’s time to bring on an expert or consider a switch. The less you trust your CRM, the more prevalent workarounds become.

Simplify your life with fewer workarounds

At the end of the day, your CRM should make your life easier and your company more successful. Workarounds, although somewhat effective at solving immediate problems, can complicate your life and, in the long run, detract from your overall success.

Which CRM workarounds are slowing down your growth?

It’s time to take control and replace workarounds with viable solutions that scale.

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