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Ever wonder what a CRM admin does and what makes them tick? We've got the answers! We took a little time out of the day to speak with Cecilie and Liz, two CRM admins dedicated to making PowerObjects' Dynamics CRM system hum. So let's get to it!
1. How would you describe your job in a nutshell?
Cecilie: A daily juggling act. You never know what you're going to find when you walk in the door. There are always going to be those little pieces that need doing, and then the bigger projects that also need doing.
Liz: Sometimes I feel like I'm a character in the Matrix. We're working in this dynamic environment, where we use technology to do things that we never imagined possible.
2. Why is your job important?
Liz: The CRM admin is the keystone to the company's business process. If you don't have someone customizing the software, you're going to miss opportunities to make your business more efficient. A CRM admin translates the needs of the entire organization into CRM. It's a great tool that eliminates roadblocks and increases overall productivity. This sounds cliché, but CRM allows people to "work smarter, not harder."
Cecilie: We help to make the gears turn and fit together.
Liz: Yep, we're the mechanics of a finely tuned engine.
3. How did you first get started working with CRM?
Liz: I didn't know what CRM was until I came to PowerObjects, but everything I had done in my career prior to this always involved various components that do what CRM does. So it was cool to come in to a company that uses CRM to put all those components together, instead of using spreadsheets for days to track information. It's really cool to see how CRM can impact a business.
Cecilie: In college, I wanted to work with rescue animals, but that job unfortunately didn't pay enough to make a decent living, so I started looking for jobs in technology, which I've always been interested in. I was given my first job out of college a "CRM Admin" position. They basically threw a book at me and said "Here's your job, go learn it." Other than that I just saw the potential in the software and how it could help businesses and I was excited. And I happened to find PowerObjects out of that interest. But if you told me in college that I would be working as a CRM Admin at a CRM company, I would have laughed at you.
4. When you started working with CRM, did you ever see yourself becoming a CRM admin?
Cecilie: Yeah. My first job was to manage a CRM system, but I never saw myself becoming an admin per se. CRM is exciting to work with because there's always new things to learn and it can do so many things.
Liz: I never saw myself as a CRM admin. I guess my organizational skills just fit well with that role. When I came to PowerObjects, I went with whatever they threw at me. And then my supervisor just said, "I think you'd be a great fit for this," and I said "Okay! Let's do this."
5. What's the first thing you do when you get to the office in the morning?
6. How do you manage incoming requests?
Cecilie: Oh, let's see. I have a OneNote that has info about the bigger projects and notes from the meetings around those. We have the internal IT requests in CRM which is little stuff, like moving a field on a form or modifying a security role. Then we have "Prod CRM" projects, where people put in their bigger CRM requests. That's still being built out. And then people will randomly ping or email me. If I can just do in in a second, I'll just do it, otherwise it gets added to one of those other systems.
Liz: Having multiple monitors and browser viewing options is pretty nice too. It helps me stay organized.
7. How do you prioritize those requests?
Cecilie: A lot of it depends on how many people it will impact and how urgent it is. If it's something somebody needs to do their daily job, it goes first on the list. If it's something that impacts the entire delivery team, or if it's related to a leadership team rock, that would also be higher priority.
8. What's the most fun thing about your job?
Liz: I like the creative aspect of it. I also really like how this job helps you really understand the business and how you can use this technology to help the organization grow.
Cecilie: I enjoy working with the different teams and bring everybody together in one common goal. CRM helps do that. Also, seeing people's excitement when you do something with CRM that's going to make their jobs easier—I get a lot of joy from that.
Liz: Agreed! Also, using cloud technology. Microsoft has a fantastic cloud ecosystem. I really like how you can access anything from anywhere using products like CRM or Office 365.
9. What's the most challenging thing about your job?
Liz: Staying organized, especially when a lot of stuff comes in. You have to jot it down somewhere and then make sure it doesn't get lost.
Cecilie: Making everyone happy. Everyone wants their stuff yesterday, so you need to figure out what really needs to be done today, and what can wait. You're only one person who can do one thing at a time (with the help of a team, of course). For me part of what I am challenged with is when I have a lot of alone time, just sitting and customizing CRM. Sometimes it's whole days just sitting with your headphones on. I'm a people person, so sitting like that days on end can be challenging. A subscription to Pandora saved my life.
10. What's your favorite thing about CRM?
Cecilie: I love how you can really almost do anything with it. People ask, "Can we make CRM do this?" The answer is almost 100% of the time is "Yeah! We can do that." Whether it's custom code or built into the system, you really can do whatever people want. It's very adaptable.
Liz: I like how it brings people from different areas together to communicate, no matter the industry. It's not just a sales system. It's so adaptable. The "lead" and "opportunity" entities are just placeholders and can change according to the organization. As long as you have certain components, you can always adapt CRM to fit those certain components. You aren't locked into using it a certain way.
11. What do you think are the qualities of a good CRM admin?
Liz: Organizational skills, communication skills, people skills, and broad understanding of all aspects that touch the system. You have to be okay with change. You're constantly driving it.
Cecilie: People skills for sure, with both technical and non-technical people, and being able to speak to those different types of users. You also obviously need to be able to customize the system. You need to know what's possible with CRM and what isn't. Being a creative thinker is also good. You can say, "I know it's not possible to do it this way, but maybe I can help them get to their end goal this other way."
Liz: Another good trait is being adaptable. Being able to understand people's needs.
Cecilie: Yeah, being that liaison between technical and non-technical people. You have to be able to translate the technical stuff to non-technical people and vice versa.
Liz: You also have to translate business needs into a technological process.
Cecilie: We do a lot of translating, ha ha. You need to able to handle stress, too. Because you do get a lot of things thrown at you randomly on a daily basis. It can contribute to stress.
Liz: Triaging plays into that as well. You need to be able to prioritize one that needs to be fixed now. If you can't do that, you're going to get stressed out.
Cecilie: Also, being able to communicate with different types of people and levels in the company, from the CEO down to the person who was just hired. And being realistic to everyone—being able to say to the CEO, "That's great, but that's not how it works."
Liz: Yeah, it's your domain. Since you're controlling the system, you can say "This is possible, this is not." You need to know your own company's particular processes in order to see how CRM can help. Being a CRM admin is great because it gives you such a deep understanding of the business itself.
12. Are there any inside jokes that only other CRM admins would get?
Cecilie: What's that meme someone sent out? "I don't always test, but when I do I test in production." That one made me laugh.
There's another one I found lately too: It's this guy saying "My code doesn't work. Why doesn't it work?" The next image says "My code works. Why does it work?"
Liz: And then there's the "99 little bugs in the code" meme.
13. Any advice for CRM admins just starting out?
Liz: Take notes whenever you can on anything and everything. Somewhere down the line it'll be useful.
Cecilie: Just make sure you have a good system for taking requests and organizing everything coming at you every day. Find a way to organize yourself so you know what's on your plate every day, know what's at the top of the list, and know what can be pushed off until tomorrow.
Liz: We are building out our CRM to fit exactly what we need to do this triage internally. We've customized our CRM to manage our own CRM customization requests.
Are you a CRM admin? What are the most important things in your world? Share in the comments!