CRM for Extension – Use cases

Stephen Judd is serving as the eXtension Foundation Customer Relationship Management Fellow. This post is an update on progress on this funded Fellowship from the USDA-NIFA New Technologies for Agricultural Extension (NTAE) Cooperative Agreement.

Armed with our goals and personas, it’s time to articulate what our people will actually do with a customer relationship management (CRM) system. At this point, we’re still not evaluating specific CRMs, but identifying its uses, so that we will be able to assess which features and capabilities will be needed for our organization. 

To accomplish our task, we will build up a library of use cases that will help us identify how our CRM should behave. These use cases will be based around the business processes where we believe CRM will be useful and will take the perspective of the personas we’ve created.

Description of use cases from usability.gov:

A use case is a written description of how users will perform tasks on your website.  It outlines, from a user’s point of view, a system’s behavior as it responds to a request. Each use case is represented as a sequence of simple steps, beginning with a user’s goal and ending when that goal is fulfilled.”

In our situation, we won’t focus on the individual steps of a process, but rather on the tasks associated with particular use cases. These tasks will help inform us of the CRM features or capabilities that we will want to be evaluating for when looking at specific CRM systems. We can assume that any CRM will be able to store the contact information (name, email, phone, address, etc.) for people. We’ll also be assuming that the people interacting with the CRM have the necessary licenses and/or permissions to accomplish their tasks.

Example use cases:

Use Case 1 Advisory Councils
Actor Persona – Extension Support Staff – Sam
Each county in our Extension organization has an Advisory Council, comprised of citizens and decision-makers that help guide the activities of Extension in that county. Sam uses the CRM to keep track of current council members, their roles, and term on the council for Sam’s county. Sam is often asked for a list of council members and their roles.
Tasks
  • Lookup or create contact and contact info
  • Add contact to a list of Advisory Council members
  • Create or edit information related to Advisory Council membership
  • Create or run report of current Advisory Council members with specific information about them and their membership
CRM Implications
  • Duplicate person (contact) management
  • Way to create lists or groups of people
  • Custom information (fields) for certain types of lists
  • Customizable reports and filters

 

Use Case 2 Track interactions with people
Actor Persona – Extension Specialist / Agent / Educator – Reilly
Extension professionals have many interactions with the people we serve each day. Reilly would like to keep track of many of these interactions in the CRM, both to help as Reilly has subsequent interactions with the person and to assist colleagues that may interact with the same person. Ideally, Reilly would like to be able to accomplish this using a mobile phone shortly after the interaction or through an email application, without having to log in to a separate interface. Reilly also needs to be able to generate reports of these interactions.
Tasks
  • Lookup or create contact and contact info
  • Record interaction with person
  • Create or run report of interactions for specified time periods
CRM Implications
  • Duplicate person (contact) management
  • Way to create and associate interactions with people (contacts)
  • Visibility of interactions for other users of CRM
  • Integration with email application
  • Mobile interface or app

 

Use Case 3 Government officials / decision-makers
Actor Persona – Extension Administrator – Pat
Part of the continued support and funding for Extension programs is based on the support of government officials and decision-makers. Pat would like to use CRM to maintain the contact information for these people and record interactions with them. Pat needs reports that can be shared with  others in the organization.
Tasks
  • Lookup or create contact and contact info
  • Indicate that person is government official or decison-maker
  • Record interaction with person
  • Create or run report of interactions for specified time periods
CRM Implications
  • Duplicate person (contact) management
  • Way to create lists or groups of people
  • Custom information (fields) for certain types of lists
  • Way to create and associate interactions with people (contacts)
  • Visibility of interactions for other users of CRM
  • Customizable and shareable reports and filters

These three use cases are simplified, but could be made as detailed or complex as you’d like. Their purpose is to describe the way people will interact with the CRM and help identify the specific CRM features and capabilities that we should evaluate.

The use cases should be based on what people will actually need to do with the CRM to conduct business processes that you’ve identified that fit with your organizational goals. Implications for how data may need to be structured and shared will be important when you are doing the actual evaluation of CRM systems.

Based on the use cases above, we can start constructing a list of CRM features for evaluation:

  • Duplicate management
  • Contact grouping or lists
  • Custom attributes for contacts or lists
  • Tracking interactions
  • Sharing and visibility between CRM users
  • Reporting capabilities, including customization, sharing, filtering, saving, etc.

Other use cases you may consider developing include managing mass email, event registrations, and volunteer hour tracking. The sky’s the limit, just keep them aligned with your people and the business processes that fit your organizational goals.

I welcome feedback and questions at stephen.judd@unh.edu 

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