Sunday, September 29, 2013

You Know You Need a CRM System When You Have a BONA

A cheeky title but more interesting than “Why you need a CRM system”. Sometimes I am asked “How do I know if I need a CRM system or not?” My typical response is either “everyone needs one” or “you already have one, it just may not be very effective”. This article talks about a clear sign you need a ‘proper’ CRM system and the advantages it will bring.

What is a BONA?

A BONA implementation is, arguably, the most common CRM system used by businesses today. It is:

  • Business Cards
  • Outlook
  • Napkins
  • (Microsoft) Access


There is also the slightly less innuendo-ridden BONE implementation where Microsoft Access is replaced with Microsoft Excel.

We have all seen this system in operation; piles of business cards on the desk, scraps of notes everywhere, an overloaded Outlook inbox and that application that ‘Bob’ put together in Access which does various business processes and, when a new field needs adding, we just ask Bob.

In the case of BONE, there are usually a few hundred (or a few thousand) Excel spreadsheets scattered throughout the business assisting with various micro-processes.

It is quite surprising how many Fortune 500 businesses run on a BONA/BONE implementation.

Problems With BONA/BONE Implementations

While many businesses operate under these conditions, it does not mean they operate well. Problems include:

  • Things falling through the gaps e.g. appointments and action items written on scraps of paper
  • No easy way to get contact information from the business card pile
  • No easy way to see the meeting/email history for a given person in Outlook
  • No ability to collaborate with co-workers as everyone has their own pile of cards/inbox etc.

In terms of the Microsoft Access application, there is the obvious risk of ‘Bob’ moving on from the business leaving an unsupported application. Also, as with the Excel spreadsheets, the ‘system’ is developed over a period of time and there is often a dozen different ways of doing the same process throughout the business. Even within the Access database there may be multiple contact lists, all with common contacts in them and no clear source of truth. This means none of the data is trusted and is restricted in its use in the business.

The CRM Alternative

These days CRM system are more than just sales force automation; they are a central place for all information about the people and organisations you do business with and the interactions with them. Moreover, a good CRM system will have a workflow engine in it to help manage the processes of the business. Notifications, escalations and approvals are the bread and butter of a modern CRM system.

The icing on the cake is you can create different ‘record types’ (for those of a database persuasion, think new tables). So, if you are in the business of managing elevators, you could create a new elevator record type to store all your elevators in. If you manage cows, you can create a cow record type to store Daisy and Buttercup.


If you or someone you know has a BONE or BONA office, now is a great time to look at getting a proper CRM system. Review your needs, look at the CRM solutions on the market and spin up a 30 day trial. If you see value, get a partner in to set up a system to meet your immediate needs and which can be scaled to meet the unanticipated needs of the future.


Unknown said...

Good one.
Simple to understand on why CRM for common business people..

Unknown said...

Great blog.
Excellent way to understand the importance of CRM. Thanks a lot.