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The Importance of Use Cases

Tech Republic describes a use case as “a formalized story that describes how someone procedurally interacts with existing or proposed software and they should be part of every project manager’s permanent tool set.”

Use cases are created to set the tone for a procedural change, and aim to capture the functional requirements for a given technology or software. They focus on the users of a particular system, not the system itself, and help the engagement team understand the business needs, see patterns, streamline operations, and question practices. Use cases tell the story of your current and future operations and provide a guide for the software project. Without them, it’s easy for project development to venture away from the intended goal, which is often costly and time-consuming to fix. Below are four best practices when conducting use case reviews for a CRM platform selection.

Establish Expectations – Set a Baseline

Senior-level buy-in is a must. Clear expectations regarding the exploratory timeline and how it fits into the overall process are vital. During this phase, key users are identified and made aware that their participation in defining your future state is critical and their participation in interviews is mandatory.

Current CRM Review

Taking time to assess the current CRM platform provides insight on opportunities to streamline operations, necessary reporting functionality and mandatory features that are currently in use. Having a foundation to refer to during the interview process will ease the conversation.


Set aside 30, 60, and 90 min interview blocks with your end-users. The length of time depends on how deeply the user is connected to the platform and in which capacity – tactical or strategic. The purpose of each interview is to determine the future state of your processes including how information is entered, which fields correlate, reporting requirements and wish list features. In essence, interviews are used to define the goal of the interaction the user has with your current CRM platform and desires to have with your future CRM platform.

Interviews should take place in person but can be facilitated via teleconferences or webinars if needed. It is important for participants to feel unencumbered about sharing what works with the current platform and what needs improvement. It is always a good idea to record the interviews when possible.

  • Group Interviews – Interview users who interact with the current CRM platform in similar fashion as part of a group interview. For example, administrative assistants who solely input contact information can be interviewed together. Oftentimes, participants will remind each other of steps they take to facilitate a specific outcome.
  • One on One interviews – Reserved for higher level users and C-suite leaders, singular interviews give insight on management’s vision and expectations for the CRM solution, as well as strategic goals of the program, e.g. establishing one global CRM platform for the organization and the business case for the CRM initiative.

Assemble the Information

Input feedback into an RFI format that can be shared with potential CRM platforms, solution providers, your IT department, and internal staff. Functional requirements will become clear when presented in a singular document. The narrative in use cases exposes items that are within the scope of the project and those which can be incorporated at a later date.

Use cases are the back bone to your CRM initiative. Your CRM use cases will be incorporated in the RFI you send to potential CRM vendors and CRM implementation partners and will help you develop clarity to your future state. Although developing your use cases will take a significant amount of time and resources, you will reference them as you build your business case and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for your CRM initiative. Doing this, you will see they are crucial to achieving a valuable return on your investment.

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