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Time to spring clean the back office

Spring is a good a time to clean.

It’s a chore and one you don’t want to face but you know it needs doing and spring’s a good time for cleaning. No, I’m not talking about the office spring-clean, I’m talking about tackling that long overdue task of cleaning up the data in your back office/CRM database.

Firms know that to improve their operational efficiency they need to start by embarking on the laborious task of cleaning up the data in their back-office. The clean-up can be because you’ve decided you need to make more of the system you’ve got or in preparation of putting in a new system. Either way the whole thing is a nightmare to say the least.

If it’s measured, it’s managed …

The key reason back-office data goes out of date is very simple. If you are not relying on the data for the management of your business (and I mean really relying on it), then whatever you do to clean it up, I guarantee that within a few months it will be unreliable again.

There is a simple rule when it comes to data and that is if it’s measured, it’s managed.

The CRM world is littered with implementations where the data is updated by one part of the business, whilst another part of the business (often your finance department) uses their own narrow, focused system that’s got reliable data in it. That’s because the money is managed and the admin system is only relied on to provide the client with a valuation and schedule every six months. It gets updated solely for this purpose and is correct for a few days a year. Sometimes even the admin department doesn’t rely on the back-office and they have separate client spreadsheets which are updated to provide the valuation.

This means the back-office/CRM is at best a workflow and for many firms it isn’t even relied on to provide workflow, it’s just a very expensive address book. It’s worse than useless because it’s costing you time and money and literally your business is getting next to nothing from it.

Should you throw out your CRM and get a shiny new one? Not at all. Most CRMs are capable of providing you with good management information and effectively managing your workflow, but the point is you’ve got to rely on it and keep relying on it.

I cannot emphasize enough how important a point this is. If you don’t rely on the data, the data will get out of date.

So how do you fix it, so it stays fixed?

Here’s a very basic strategy.

Step 1: Identify who’s in control of the process you want to use the CRM data for.

Step 2: Identify what data they need and in what format they need it, to perform the task they currently do on the other system(s) they are relying on. For new business reporting this is most likely a spreadsheet or two and your company accounts system (Sage or Quickbooks). For workflow, if it’s not the CRM that’s relied on, then it’s probably being run via your email system (yikes!).

Step 3: Check that your current system can provide the information you need and then identify the data set that you need to ensure is accurate.

Step 4: Check the current data you’ve got and estimate realistically how much time will be needed to clean up the data and the process you’ll follow to clean it up.

Step 5: Document the new process that will be followed by everyone in the business involved with the data once it’s cleaned up and get their complete buy-in that if you clean up the data it will be used and relied upon and any related spreadsheets will stop being used.

Step 6: Make sure the person (or team) in Step 1, can and will rely on the data that it provides when you’ve cleaned it up.

Step 7: Clean up the minimum (absolute minimum) set of data and check your management information to ensure none of the old data will introduce errors into your new MI reporting.

Step 8: Implement the new process and then measure it is producing exactly what the business needs. Check that the key person is relying on the data and they’ve stopped using their old system. Then re-check again every month for the first 12 months.*

*Note: This is the hardest part as people easily return to their own tried and trusted methods of doing things.

The steps above will allow you to clean up the back-office for two key uses –

  1. Relying on the financial information to provide you with accurate new business reporting.
  2. Relying on the activity management to provide you with work flow so you don’t miss any actions.

This is because it is the business that relies on this information, however the steps above will not work to ensure you have accurate and up to data client valuation data.

And that’s because the person who controls the data for this doesn’t work for your organisation. The only person who can make sure your client data is accurate, is the client themselves. So, if you want to have accurate client data you need to let your client have access to the data.

There is no point in embarking on a database cleaning exercise for valuation data unless the end result is that you will give clients access to their data. Otherwise, you will quickly be back to stage one.

There is a better way …

At moneyinfo, we take the data from your back-office (Intelliflo, Curo, Adviser Office, soon to be x-Plan). We can also take data from your spreadsheets and even your bespoke CRM database if you’ve built one inhouse.

We then overlay it with clean data from your platforms and providers. What’s more we continue to do this every day to ensure your data is accurate and remains up to date as well as providing a history of clients’ valuation data over time.

If there are any problems with the data feeds, and they do go wrong from time to time, we manage the problem on your behalf saving you time, money and a whole lot of headaches.

We give you tools that make it easy to manage any data anomalies (such as duplicate data from mis-matched policy numbers) and our tools fix the anomaly so that the data is fixed and stays fixed.

We work with you every step of the way to ensure you can put your client data online for the only person who really knows if it’s correct or not. Your client.

We provide you with data that you can rely on and your clients can rely on.

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s a comment from Carly Shute from Clifton Asset Management -

“One of the unexpected key benefits for the business has to be that our staff, especially the advisers, are able to log in and get information at their fingertips rather than waiting days for valuations to arrive. With multiple assets in pension schemes the ability to access this data from various parties at the click of a button saves a lot of time.”


If you are about to embark on a data cleansing exercise or are considering moving back-office, save yourself a whole lot of pain by calling us first.

Call us on 03303 600 300 or email us on enquiries@moneyinfo.com and we’ll be happy to discuss your project and how we can help to ensure it is a great success.