When Disaster Strikes – Part One

24 Sep

This is the tale of an incredible response to massive storm damage.  It is a case study in how to do things right following a disaster.

The Valley of the Sun, the local name for the greater metro-Phoenix area, gets an average of just 28 days of rain per year and only 7 inches of annual rainfall.  This compares to 100 days on average in the US and an average 37 inches of rain.  So it was a totally unprepared region on October 5, 2010 that experienced a freakish hail storm that literally ripped a path across the most populated area of the state.

The daytime temperatures had been in the 105-106 F degree range the days before.  On October 5, 2013, the temperature dropped from the high 80s to the the 50s in seconds.  A thirty degree drop in just seconds was followed by a further drop down to the 40s.   I was personally stuck in the third and most frightening wave.  The first two hail storms passed earlier in the day.  Around 5 pm, coming back from a meeting.  I was in a Honda S2000 two seat sports car convertible with a canvas top.

The storm had seemed to pass when the sunlit day turned dark and hail the size of golf balls and softballs came crashing down.  I was stuck on a highway on-ramp, surrounded by cars that started ramming each other in the suddenly icy road.  I slid to a stop as it sounded like a mob hitting my car with baseball bats and shotgun blasts.  I could not move to shelter as I was hemmed in by vehicles with a mini-van sliding to within inches of my driver door.  The hail was coming from all directions.  It hit my roof so hard that the hail was forcing the fabric down and hitting me inside.  I had to lay across the passenger seat to get low enough not to be hit.  I thought about fleeing the car but did not know if the hail could kill me if I left.  I wondered what would happen if the roof ripped open or the glass started to shatter.  It seemed like forever before the storm passed.  In reality, the hail lasted about twenty minutes.

My car had every piece of metal damage and all the glass cracked.  I had over 800 dents in my car, including a hail stone that had broke through the reflector on my trunk lid, through the trunk, and shattered the wiring inside.  My roof was shredded.  When my car was repaired, every external metal panel, glass, roof and lamp had to be replaced.  It cost around $25,000 to repair and took four months to get back.  My car damage and repair time was nothing compared to the damage wreaked upon the vehicles and buildings across Phoenix and the surrounding cities.

Video of the storm:


Video of a roof hit by the hail:


The storm had hailstones measured over 2 inches in diameter and caused $2.7 Billion in damage in less than an hour around 5 pm drive time for Phoenix commuters.

Scott McCleary, of the Valley Schools Insurance Trust (VSIT), was on the front lines.  VSIT is a joint purchasing pool for liability insurance for three very large school districts; Peoria Unified School District (PUSD), Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) and the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD).  Together, the school districts have over 100 campuses and thousands of school buses and maintenance vehicles.  In addition to the three hail storms in one day, buildings were suffering flooding from both rain and from leaking roofs.  Scott McCleary arrived at the Pioneer Elementary School campus first in the Peoria Unified School District.

Scott McCleary - VSIT

Scott McCleary – VSIT

Pioneer had flooding damage, and VSIT’s top priority is always to mitigate damage and avoid school closures and disruptions.  VSIT investigates, comes up with risk management plans, assists in securing vendors and pricing and coordinates with insurers and re-insurers.  When Scott arrived he immediately scaled the building to check out the roof damage.  Scott’s first impression was a bit of shock.  After a career inspecting roof damage on buildings, this was the most extensive storm damage he had ever seen.  “It looked like it had a million holes.  I’d never seen anything like that.”  Scott immediately got on the phone to Tom Bock, the Administrator for VSIT.  “It looks like we have a lot of damage out here, and I’m only at the first campus.”

Tom Bock put into action a plan of attack that would succeed where many others have still not repaired damage as the second anniversary of the storm approaches.  The school districts in VSIT pool their liability insurance and have a re-insurer for each incident starting at $100,000.  The re-insurer for this storm was Travelers.  Travelers was contacted immediately by VSIT and brought in.  By the end of the first day, Scott and the on-site adjuster had walked, inspected and put into action mitigation at four campuses.  Each campus has from several hundred to a few thousand students, hundreds of faculty, and multiple buildings.

After the first day, the Travelers Catastrophic loss Team (CAT) was flown in from New York.  Over the next two months, 115 campuses were full inspected and close to 100 have hail damage to roofs, rooftop air conditioning units, shade structures, windows, skylights, light structures, and paint.  Amazingly, out of around 4,400 solar panels, just seven were damaged.  The damage to the vehicle fleets were also dramatic.  Tops of school buses were dented while some three hundred support and maintenance vehicles were badly damaged.  For Scott McCleary who usually manages around 125 losses per year, he was now faced with managing losses at 100 sites, each with multiple buildings, vehicles and problems.

Work started immediately on the most damaged sites, including Pioneer Elementary and the Sandra Day O’Connor High School, each of which had flooding damage.  Thanks to the prompt action of VSIT, no school days were missed due to the hail damage at any of the 115 campuses.  Critical to the team that would accomplish this and future storm inspections and repairs were Jeff Long, the Director of Facilities at the Deer Valley Unified School District and Jim Migliorino, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for DVUSD; Edward Gillam, the Director of Facilities for Peoria Unified School District and Michael Finn the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for PUSD; and Cole Morris, the Director of Facilities for Paradise Valley Unified School District and Tom Elliott, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for PVUSD.


VSEBT Posts Successful Year

10 Jun

The following is an update letter sent out to members of Valley Schools, which include the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT), the Valley Schools Workers’ Compensation Pool (VSWCP) and the Valley Schools Insurance Trust (VSIT).  Tom Boone is the Chairman and CEO.  Congratulations on another outstanding year to the Valley Schools’ team!

logo vsmg

Dear Member,

Let me start out by saying that we appreciate having you as a continuing member in Valley Schools. The following are some recent events at Valley Schools that may be of interest to you:

  • Valley Schools is constantly negotiating with all our providers to save you money on insurance. As a result, effective July 1, 2013, we changed our life insurance carrier to ING. This change saved 21% off basic life insurance rates for all members and includes a three-year rate guarantee. We also changed our Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) to UHC/OptumRX which should result in a reduction of pharmacy costs of about 2%.
  • The audits for 2012 are complete and we have received an unqualified opinion. An unqualified opinion is the best possible audit outcome, meaning that there are no areas for concern, comment or revision. Since Valley Schools started in 1987, we have had unqualified opinions on all audits, every year. We are proud of our 25 years of clean audit findings. The 2012 audit reports were recently sent to all members.
  • National healthcare policy is changing rapidly and dramatically. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) passed in 2010 changes nearly every aspect of health delivery in the country. Valley Schools is committed to keeping our members informed and ready for this shifting regulatory landscape. We are providing quarterly briefings for all members to review all aspects of PPACA. We would strongly encourage your human resources, employee benefits staff, or others you may want to participate, to attend these meetings.
  • Again, for the 2013-14 fiscal year, Valley Schools had 100% retention of all current members. In addition, we welcome the Madison Elementary School District as a new member for FY 2013-14.

You should have already received a copy of our audit results. I am available to you at any time should you have any questions. All of our board meetings are posted and we encourage you to attend when your schedule allows it.


Tom Boone



Tom Boone, Chairman and CEO, Valley Schools

VSIT Scores High Marks With Reinsurers

19 Feb

The Valley Schools Insurance Trust (VSIT) provides liability insurance to several large employers in the valley including very large school districts.  Each year they are audited by several folks, including an independent audit and evaluation of reserves for liability.  Once again, VSIT has passed with flying colors without any defects and with substantially more reserves than required.  This program has saved each of its member employers around $1 million per year in premiums due to risk management, aggressive claims management, investigations and damage mitigation.  As part of the trust, reinsurance is purchased to limit maximum liability per claim.  The outstanding work of Tom Bock, Administrator for VSIT, has resulted in a high level of confidence in reinsurers.  As they evaluate the financials, operations and expertise at the trust, they give it their highest ratings, resulting in lower costs for members.  Outstanding job VSIT!


Want to know more?  You can see more about them at:


Or contact Tom Bock or Sheri Gilbert at 623-594-4370 for more information.

Sheri Gilbert, Director of Marketing and Business Development

Sheri Gilbert, Director of Marketing and Business Development

logo vsmg

PUSD’s Denton Santarelli receives Arizona Superintendent of the Year award

18 Dec

Congratulations to Denton Santarelli, the staff of Peoria Unified School District, and the students who worked hard to make this achievement!

PUSD’s Denton Santarelli receives Arizona Superintendent of the Year award

Peoria Unified School District Superintendent Denton Santarelli has been named All Arizona Superintendent of the Year for large districts by the Arizona School Administrators (ASA) Association.

The award was presented at the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Conference 11:30 a.m. Dec. 13 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.

“With more than 31 years in public education, you will find no greater champion for students, parents or staff than Dr. Santarelli,” said Peoria Unified Governing Board President Hal Borhauer. “The district’s more than 36,000 students and nearly 4,000 employees are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Santarelli’s leadership and vision in shaping the future of education in the Northwest Valley. We are honored that his leadership and vision have been recognized by other professionals in Arizona.”

To further propel student preparedness for college and careers, Santarelli is spearheading the district’s efforts on the United States Department of Education’s Race to the Top District Competition, of which Peoria Unified was recently named a finalist. Under his leadership, Peoria Unified has been labeled an “A” District by the Arizona Department of Education, has a 93 percent high school graduation rate and was the first district in the state to receive international AdvancED Accreditation.

Arizona School Administrators Inc. is a non-profit corporation organized to promote the best interests of education in the state of Arizona. ASA works to advance the roles of administrative leaders by providing training and support services for its membership. The organization attracts talented individuals to the field and disseminates research related to current education issues. Its membership serves as a voice in the legislature, in their communities, and in other organizations promoting educational improvements that benefit students and schools.

Balsz School District blazes trail for success story of more class time

10 Dec

Balsz School District blazes trail for success story of more class time

Posted: Dec 03, 2012 4:40 PMUpdated: Dec 08, 2012 4:40 PM

PHOENIX -Do kids do better in school if they spend more time in class? School officials in five states think so. They’re following the lead of a school district in Phoenix that’s already doing it — and it’s paying off.Schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee are adding 300 hours of time to the school year.

The Balsz Elementary School District in Phoenix extended its school year four years ago. It’s now a model for the rest of the country.

This is Beth Lewis’ 6th grade class at Griffith Elementary School, located near 44th Street and McDowell in Phoenix.

They’re working on math.

“We are doing percents, how to figure out percents from numbers that don’t equal one hundred,” says student Colynn Harvey.

Most students go to school 180 days a year. These students go 200 days. 20 more days — that’s four full school weeks.

“I like it because we have more days to learn,” says student Ben Denton.

“Do you ever feel like you aren’t getting enough of a vacation?” we asked.


Teachers say more school pays off.

“I remember being young and getting back into school and there were so many cobwebs in my head,” says teacher Beth Lewis. “I think with the 6-week summer there is not a lot of time to forget.”

Four years ago Balsz School District was an under performing school district, but then came the changes and the expanded calendar, and since then the situation has improved dramatically. The schools district-wide got a B grade, and Griffith Elementary got an A.

Balsz has blazed a trail for other school districts.

“We are very proud of having made that bold move for our community which has embraced this opportunity for extra learning,” says Chris Canelake, Balsz School District.

Teachers in the district are paid a little more to work the extra days.

They like the program. They say it keeps kids busy and they learn better and more consistently than they do in summer school.

Healthcare Planning Done Right!

4 Dec

In today’s healthcare market, with so many changes and the impacts of National Healthcare Reform unclear, it is important for every organization to have proper healthcare planning.  Unfortunately, for most employers, even larger ones, healthcare is something looked at only during renewal time.  Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) in conjunction with their consultant, Aon/Hewitt, provide annual healthcare planning sessions with the leaders of all their employer organizations.  These include the top executives and the human resource officials so that they can be informed at all times of where healthcare is going, and how to plan for it.  VSMG plans and implements for change on a regular basis for its members, but does not view that as enough.  ”We need to make sure all our members stay informed of our efforts, understand the reason for staying ahead of the curve, and approve of the direction we are leading,” said Tom Boone, Chairman and CEO of VSMG.

Tom Boone, VSMG

Tom Boone, VSMG

logo vsmg

Attached here is one such document provided to their members to keep them informed of the ongoing processes at VSMG:

Scottsdale schools look to harness Sun Power

27 Nov
Scottsdale schools look to harness Sun Power  

By Brett Nachman
Independent Correspondent

Four Scottsdale high school students “soaked up the sun” during their fall break to participate in the SunPower Solar Science Academy — a week-long program aimed to educate students on the benefits of solar energy implementation.

Scottsdale Unified School District is the only district in Arizona to participate in this one-of-a-kind initiative.

Five other school districts in California have been involved as well, SUSD officials say.

The quartet of Saguaro and Coronado students to partake in this program included Taylor Clark, Carlos Mora, Jessica Norman and Abraham Ramirez.

The students, at the Nov. 20 SUSD governing board meeting, shared information on solar power and their experiences during the project.

Dr. Karen Benson, SUSD director of curriculum, said that the collaboration with the SunPower Corp. involved “the agreement that we would allow students to showcase their learning in front of our governing board members.”

Dr. Benson recognized SUSD coordinators Chris Brandt and Janey Kaufmann for the “many hours they put in,” as well as “superstar” lead teachers Susan Lindberg and Erika Mills.

The students developed Galileo Systems, a fictional company, and assumed roles within this project.

They discussed the potential of solar power, as well as the progress SUSD has made in embracing this energy.

“Making energy resolve around the sun” represented the slogan of their presentation.

Mr. Mora spoke to the scientific process of converting sunlight into electricity.

Meanwhile, his colleague, Ms. Clark, informed the audience that “enough sunlight falls to Earth every hour to meet our world’s energy demand for an entire year.”

The students shared that solar energy can be incorporated at a household level, as their project partially focused around determining the cost and energy savings of a sample home.

Their example, showcasing a house boasting a south-facing view, 34-degree-angle roof and no foliage obstructions, could save approximately 11,000 pounds of carbon dioxide gas emissions from being released each year.

“Let’s face it, we get a lot of sun here,” joked Mr. Ramirez.

Mr. Ramirez said he advocates solar power because of it being “more eco-friendly, safer, cheaper, more productive and just plain more basic compared to other energy sources.”

This project ties to SUSD’s real-life utilization of solar energy.

The district recently applied the Qualified School Conservation Bond to partner with SunPower and equip 11 of its 33 schools with solar panels.

These newly-installed systems can be found on SUSD school rooftops and on parking lot shading structures.

“QSCB allows companies that wish to reduce energy consumption in public buildings to have bonds to help pay for the expenditure,” said Mr. Ramirez.

This natural form of energy is expected to save Scottsdale schools electricity costs around $25 million in the next 25 years, a May press release states.

During the Solar Science Academy, these students discussed strategies on integrating solar energy into the community, even gaining firsthand experience via taking field trips to various businesses.

Ms. Norman said they visited Stara Technologies in Glendale, which tests solar panels for usage in the military.

The students said they enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the program and better appreciate this form of technology.

“My grandfather tried to promote solar panels 20 years ago, which wasn’t cost-effective then,” said Ms. Norman.

Ms. Norman said she participated in the camp to remember her late grandfather, “but also to increase my knowledge of solar technology and how to improve my lifestyle.”

Mr. Ramirez said he was “oblivious” to this subject matter beforehand, but benefits from having been a part of the SunPower Solar Science Academy.

Mr. Mora attained “business and team management skills” from working on the project with his fellow students.

“I learned lessons on cleaner living that will carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Ms. Clark.

Editor’s note: Mr. Nachman is participating in the Independent Newmsedia’s correspondent program


19 Nov

In Arizona an organization is making great strides in re-educating government procurement entities on their options for group purchasing insurance.  In many government settings, standard procurement processes are often used exclusively, without giving proper consideration to other options legally available.  Sometimes these other options can yield great savings and better services and products as well.

Here is a PowerPoint presentation put together recently by Bill Munch of the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) on how group purchasing options should be considered in addition to standard single-entity procurement:

Options in Insurance Buying FINAL 09132012

The Power Point is pretty self-explanatory, but for more information, please feel free to contact Bill Munch, Andrea Billings, or Sheri Gilbert at 623-594-4370.

Bill Munch

Was Your Project “Done Right”? How Do You Know?

15 Nov

Was Your Project “Done Right”? How Do You Know?

Submitted by Esther Schindler

At the beginning of a development project, there’s no way you can know — or recognize — when the project is “done right.” Even if you know a lot about the problem domain.

We all like to think that we understand our users, and that we listen carefully when they explain what they need. Armed with that certainty, we go off to design an application that scratches every itch the users described. And we are annoyed when they announce that, to their own surprise, what the developer delivered wasn’t what the users wanted after all.

That’s not always because your understanding was imperfect, but because few of us humans know the difference between “What I want” and “What I need.” Often this distinction doesn’t occur to us until we’ve made a few bad choices, which is why divorce lawyers earn a pretty good living.

Proponents of Agile methodologies will nod along with the above and mutter, “Isn’t that what I’ve been saying all along?” (About the need/want issue; I’m not sure about the lawyers.) But I’ve recently bumped into a non-computer example that drove the message home for me.

It’s a case of the busman’s holiday: One of the things I do for fun (or at least to serve the community) is edit the monthly newsletter for a local all-volunteer nonprofit organization. That gives me a certain degree of dispassionate observer status, because every month I see (and correct the grammar in) the club’s board meeting minutes, as well as the newsletter’s other articles. I follow the club’s projects, including its recent plans to move into a new building under a local government sponsorship. (I’m intentionally coy about its identity, here, as I don’t want to embarrass anyone publicly, and the example doesn’t need specifics.)

The guy who volunteered as Project Manager is very much of the old waterfall school. For several months, he’s been proudly demonstrating to the club members how Gantt charts work and what “critical path” means. But I realized that in the past six months, about the only thing that has been produced is pretty charts, meeting reports, and a couple of architectural layouts (the latter generated by another volunteer who clearly has a workable vision for how it might all come together). There are real physical things to be built and installed in the new building, but as far as I can tell, not a single one of them is started.

Meanwhile, the club president, whom I like a lot, has left it up to this Project Manager (I’ll refer to him as “Stan”) because the president (let’s call him “Joseph”) wants to see the new building project “done right.” I admire Joseph’s delegation intent, but I’m beginning to see just how Waterfall projects go south. (Never mind that the situation is exacerbated because this is an all-volunteer organization. I spent many years as a computer user group activist, and learned from raw experience just how much is different when “motivating people” does not involve financial remuneration.) The bottom line is that nobody in this project could recognize whether or not it’s been “done right” until the very end (i.e. when the doors open on the new building), by which time it will be too late.

All of Stan’s energy has been put into organizing “What has to be done.” Very little, as far as I can tell, has been put into identifying the different constituencies who need to be satisfied, and figuring out how to make them happy. The result is that Stan’s plans are cast in concrete when the municipal authority says they require Such-And-So, then the concrete is blasted out when the Building Architects make a change… and nobody has asked, “What will make people actually pay to come into this building to see what we’re displaying?” or “We have a small group of volunteers who joined the organization to indulge in their hobby. How can we make the new building serve their needs?”

I foresee bad times ahead.

I could write at length about what it takes to find out what is needed-and-wanted, and what happens in volunteer organizations when the members’ needs are ignored (in fact, I did, before I deleted a big block of text). But the point I want to make is that a “Project Plan Is God” approach can only serve a bureaucracy. It can serve the end user only by accident. The users (whether it’s the club members or the building architects) become secondary to “compliance with The Plan.”

That wouldn’t be so bad, except that a project being “done right” can only be judged by whether each of those groups-of-users is happy at the end. And since they don’t know what they want (only what they think they want), they need developers (and project managers) to give them frequent opportunities to look at the results and make course corrections. And thenadjust the deliverables in response as necessary, as the players find out what truly is required, by which date, and with what priority.

So to (at length) come back to my original point: even if you know all about the problem domain (that is, you understand the nature of the business problem), both you and the users operate on assumptions. Those assumptions may not hold true for every case, and specifically those assumptions may be inaccurate for this particular project. There is no way that Stan can predict every problem the club will encounter, the more so because of the battling agendas of all the parties involved. But by putting all his emphasis on “creating a plan,” he loses sight of the purpose of a plan: to make sure that the project goals are met. With no allowance for the inevitable changes, either Stan will spend all his time updating his project management software, or the Plan will soon have no relationship to the actual project status.

This particular nonprofit isn’t my problem, really. But I hate to see well-meaning people set themselves up for failure. And right now, that’s all I can predict.

CRM Needs Assessment for Projects Done Right

13 Nov

CRM Projects Done Right Mean Business Process Changes

Like most enterprise applications, CRM systems mean tighter business processes. Unlike most enterprise apps, however, CRM users typically aren’t ready this for this. Here’s a look at what needs to be fixed before you should really start a CRM project.

By David Taber
Thu, September 13, 2012

CIO — Think about an accounting, ERP or even HR application. Making them work means some using pretty tight business rules and user practices. Most of the time, users have been fully indoctrinated by their professions and have no problem adopting generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or the more flexible ERP II.

Now think about the typical outbound marketing person or sales rep. There’s professionalism, yes, but there’s also a deeply held belief that what they do is a sort of artistry based on unique personal skills. The amount of CRM-oriented processes baked into most sales and marketing departments could fit in a couple of tea cups.

Commentary: Before You Invest in CRM Software, Assess Your Needs

I’m not just being snarky here. That’s coming from a 20-year veteran of the revenue generation business process. The shallowness and incoherence of marketing and sales processes is a major impediment to the effectiveness of CRM efforts and the adoption of the systems by users.

The bottom line is this: Successful CRM projects depend on the refinement and deepening of the relevant business processes. That can make CRM projects a taller order.


5 Business Process Issues Associated With CRM Projects


In the early stages of any significant CRM effort, you need to look for symptoms of business process disconnects and incentive misalignments across various parts of sales and marketing. Unifying and automating non-integrated business processes will only expose or exaggerate contradictions.

The place to look for these disconnects is in job descriptions, territory maps, sales channel rules of engagement, marketing programs, lead nurturing campaigns and other PowerPoint, Visio and Word documents. Here are five major problem areas.

Unclear or undifferentiated processes. Do the job descriptions in marketing (particularly the outbound side) and sales (particularly field marketing and pre-sales) reflect highly differentiated process roles, or are the responsibilities only vaguely stated? You want to see unique ownership of goals that can be independently achieved. You’re looking for specific descriptions of cogs in a machine, not vague statements about teamwork.

Pay close attention to service level agreements, especially those that involve the following parties:

  • Lead generation and lead cultivation
  • Lead cultivation and inside sales
  • Inside sales and the field
  • Channel managers and sales partners

Commentary: CRM and Sales: If it’s Broke, Fix It

Make sure each SLA includes explicit quality criteria, deadlines and rejection rules. Here’s a good example: “If Sales does not explicitly act on a new Opportunity within four business days, the Opportunity is reassigned.” In addition, develop a waterfall model that indicates each major phases of lead and deal maturation, with approximate times and conversion ratios for each major step.

Incentives Make sure the answers to the following questions are not “Well, it depends…”

  • Are marketing bonuses based on a balance of brand, reputation and loyalty as well as pipeline creation?
  • Are sales compensation plans pushing people in coherent directions across all parts of the sales organization?
  • Are quotas and compensation plans excessively individualized in different parts of the sales team?
  • In commission plans, does $1 really equal $1? Do direct reps get commission on channel sales in their territory?

Metrics Metrics for key success factors should be clearly identified and enforced. You don’t want metrics that are almost incidental—for example, “the sales rep will make at least 10 cold calls per week.”

In addition, metrics should evaluating things that an individual can actually control. One classic mis-metric is to hold outbound marketing responsible for revenue. (Instead, measure “number of sales-accepted leads” or “overall pipeline volume.”) Another is to hold the sales rep responsible for customer satisfaction when he has nothing to do with product quality or service responsiveness. (Instead, measure “customer complaints about sales” or “number of misconfigured orders.”)

Commentary: 5 Reasons Social CRM Is the High Ground for Revenue Production

Finally, ask if metrics are enforced by business rules with deadlines or approval cycles. For example, are qualified leads that have gone stale supposed to be returned to marketing? Are deals that haven’t moved in 60 days eligible to be closed or pulled back from the channel partner?

Terminology Start with a clear description, or even an indoctrination document, for what sales objects such as Lead, Contact, Account and Opportunity mean to the marketing and sales process. Get people to stop saying “We convert leads into opportunities”—and take double points off your score if you can’t explain the misconception baked into those words.

From there, look at every record type and status value for these sales objects. You need qualification and entry/exit conditions that make two things clear—one, that all leads, contacts, accounts and opportunities would in fact fit into the scheme, and two, that at least 80 percent of leads, contacts, accounts and opportunities would fit into exactly one record type or status value at any one point in time.

Commentary: Email-to-CRM Contact Connection Easier Said Than Done

Finally, for the status fields (leads, contacts and accounts) and the stage field (opportunities), make sure, again, that there is clear definition of what the status value means, as well as a set of unambiguous entry/exit criteria.

Channel conflict There are several key questions you must answer here.

  • Do outside sales reps view the ecommerce system and the inside reps as diverting their commission dollars?
  • Do your reps view distributors and resellers as competition?
  • Are customer renewals handled by an organization that doesn’t report into sales?
  • Does marketing treat your channel partners as an extension of the sales force?


Moving CRM Projects From Mere Magic to Machinery

Classic B2B sales and marketing came to full flower long before the advent of CRM. This lead to huge, sometimes miraculous, wins accompanied by big cost structures and unreliable sales forecasts. Even today, sales and marketing budgets are the single largest cost area of many firms.

The goal of CRM projects is to lower the cost and improve the reliability of the revenue engine so it’s always firing on all cylinders. Achieving that means moving beyond not-very-systematic thinking and adding models, metrics and machinery across the sales and marketing team. Like your car’s engine, the revenue engine needs to be carefully and coherently tuned in order to deliver its maximum output.

David Taber is the author of the new Prentice Hall book, “Salesforce.com Secrets of Success” and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.

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