Using Outlook to Speed up your CRM Implementation

With a little work to make Outlook contact information more consistent, the loading of the CRM database will require less effort and time. Administrative assistants can do this on behalf of attorneys. Without this preparation work in Outlook, loading the CRM database will require a lot more data reconciliation time and effort. Since Outlook contact information is typically maintained on an attorney by attorney basis, these “Data Cleanup” suggestions will only help to make the information consistent for each attorney, but not between attorneys. Differences in the same contacts’ information between attorneys will be resolved during the CRM import/editing process. Three sorted views of contacts are needed to facilitate the Outlook “Data Cleanup.” If the CRM has the ability to publish Outlook views, the following views can be provided to administrative assistants. Otherwise, most Outlook users are familiar with how to sort contact lists.

Outlook views used for data cleanup

Sort:  FullName
Show:  FullName, Last Name, First Name, Middle Name, Suffix, Title

This view makes it easy to see contacts with name components in the wrong places, such as no first or last names, and shows any duplicate records for the same person.
Sort: Company Name
Show:  Company Name, Business Phone

This view identifies inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, or suffixes (such as “A.B.C. Chemical” and “A.B.C. Chemical, Inc.”).
Sort: Mailing Address
Show:  Business Name, Mailing Address

This view finds company name variations with the same address, e.g. “ABC Corp. of Arizona” and “Arizona ABC Corp.”.  It also shows variations in the way the address has been entered for the same company.

Other data cleanup considerations

Name and Address formatting guidelines or “rules” can be developed by each firm and applied during the review and editing of contact information in Outlook. In addition, “Data Cleansing Rules” can be set in the CRM to enforce consistency for a variety of data fields, e.g. spelling out Job Titles by automatically switching “VP” to “Vice President.” But the following aspects of Data Cleanup need a human to review and make changes:
Look for very long company names. Typically this would be the result of a Department Name added to the Company Name. Outlook does not have a data field for Department Names. Printed labels and CRM database fields have limited size for content. One way to consistently add Department Names to a CRM database is to place them in the first line of the Address.
Avoid repetitious Title and Suffix; e.g. “Dr. John Jones, MD” should either be “Dr. John Jones” or “John Jones, MD”.
Enforce consistent placement of Suite, Apartment, and Floor numbers: On the street address line (e.g. “100 Main Street, Suite 230”), on the line above the street address, or the line after the street address.
Company Names, if mistakenly in the first line of the Mailing Address, should be moved to the Company Name field.
Comments should be removed from all phone numbers. Outlook allows long sentences to precede or follow phone numbers in the same data field. CRM databases expect numbers in the phone number fields and are often limited in size. Comments, if needed, should be moved to another data field such as “Notes.”.