I attended a leadership seminar in the CRM software industry where the expert speaker made the comment, "If you just copy you will always be behind. The only way to get ahead is to focus on not best practices, but next practices."
I believe it is human nature to emulate a best practice. It is also natural (and often expected) for a company to emulate the practices of industry leaders. After all, they must be doing something right. So, is there anything wrong with emulating best practices? I do not think wrong is the right word. It's not wrong to adopt and implement excellent ideas. It's not wrong to be effective and efficient. The larger the company the more important that is. Waste of time and materials can become exponential very quickly and very painfully. Evaluation of existing processes and measuring them against a predetermined criteria (the "best practice" measurements) is not ever a bad idea. I think the lesson of the statement mentioned above is that when you become complacent in best practices and stop reaching for continuous improvement you are likely going to plateau. Where you really want to be is where there is no one better to measure yourself against, right?
Because I live and breathe CRM solutions when I heard this statement, wrote it down, and re-read it several times I realized it was speaking to me on two levels. One was mind set (the "best" and "next" parts of the sentence and the strategic planning they were referring to), and the other was execution (the reference to "practices"). It's really about getting the innovative and creative objectives we have OUT of our heads and into our daily lives where we can execute them. There is the challenge. Most of us are either highly capable of one or the other, but rarely both. We are big planners and thinkers with little desire to perform the daily tasks to bring those big ideas to fruition or we are daily doers who love the tasks and hate it when someone comes along with yet another big idea that will mess up our day to day Flow. What is the answer? How do we get from best practices to next practices? How do we prioritize, organize, and execute on the big ideas without derailing the entire organization?
CRM software is how you do it. Not only can CRM software be used for existing process and culture alignment, but it can also be the tool that captures the big ideas and systematically makes them part of the existing workflow. It can be used to measure how much time and resources are being used on a given project and allow those strategic thinkers to make educated decisions about what direction to provide next. The brilliant idea of last month may not be holding water to the brilliant idea of this month that is expected to cost less to produce, get to market faster, and sell more. Putting the project details in a single location so you can make educated decisions is one of the primary reasons for CRM. CRM was designed to enhance the customer experience received from your organization. That includes making the right decisions internally to improve your corporate and branding image to the outside world. When there is a disconnect within your organization, there is a likely tool to aid you closing that gap.
CRM software is a tool that can not only take you to a place of emulated best practices but to a place of continual improvement, and provide a platform for industry next practices.