CRM Documentation: The Ultimate Guide to SOPs for Effective CRM Management

Posted: May 31, 2023

Danielle Attanasio CRM Strategist

Have you ever found yourself looking at something in your CRM and thinking, “Why did I set this up like this?” We’ve all been there. A few months or a year goes by, and suddenly you’re looking at that recipient list, form, or portal, wondering what that past version of yourself was thinking. Or maybe you have a lot of different hands working in your CRM, and it just seems impossible to keep track of the actions that everyone is taking (take a look at our article on CRM governance to read about how to help with the latter example from the ground up).

Good documentation that includes “standard operating procedures” (SOPs), makes everything easier, but it is especially important in a system as powerful as your CRM. If you’re in charge of managing the CRM at your institution, then it’s also your responsibility to set up documentation for your SOPs to explain how everything is running. 

Today, we’re here to advocate for the documentation of everything related to your CRM. Really… everything. Even if it feels excessive, you want to have a record of all the daily processes that keep your office running. If you commit to strong documentation, picture how you will help yourself in the future when it comes to:

  • New employee onboarding: You will have a plan for all the positions in your office, so you can provide a structured CRM training experience for your new team members.
  • Covering leaves or extended vacations: You won’t have to worry when your key CRM team member leaves for vacation because you have a strong database of documentation to ensure everything runs smoothly while your coworker is away.
  • New process development: You will be able to quickly solve new problems because of the accessibility and clarity of similar past solutions.

So where do you start? Here is the official SOP for creating SOPs.

Step 1: Create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) template.

It will feel much less stressful to document your processes when you already have a template at your disposal. We recommend developing a standard template for how your documentation should look and feel. This will allow you to just plug in the relevant information whenever a new process needs to be written down. Here’s an example (that you can download below):

Step 2a: Plan a location for all of your documentation. 

Whether you use Google Drive or any other cloud-based storage platform, having one central location where all your documents live will make it easier to consistently use them. Of course, this folder can be organized in whatever way makes sense for your office, but the most important part is that you know where to find everything!

Step 2b: Include a table of contents.

That brings us to our next recommendation, which is to build a table of contents that helps organize all your materials in one place. Sometimes scrolling through an endless list of Google Docs and spreadsheets just isn’t going to cut it. Wouldn’t it be easier to see everything in a clear and concise way?

Your table of contents can link to anything that would be helpful to know about a given topic. You could include:

  • Scripted training videos.
  • Recordings of past training sessions.
  • Links to existing knowledge base articles.
  • Relevant slide decks.
  • And of course, all of the beautiful SOPs you’ll be creating.

Step 3: Start documenting!

Okay, we know this is easier said than done in just one step. But if you need help deciding where to start, we’ve got you covered.

  • Start with specific user processes. Ask key members of your team to write down the steps required to do all their regular work using the brand new template you’ve created.
  • Move on to the technical stuff. Document the how and why for all the custom processes taking place in your CRM. This way, you won’t forget why something is set up a certain way in the future.
    • A key thing to document first is anything related to automation. Automation rules impact your system in real time, so it’s extra important to document how automation/rules are set up, since missteps here can unintentionally break or change automation.
  • Consider new employee onboarding. Thinking about all the things you’d want a new staff member to learn is a good way to develop a list of the processes that need coverage.

Our CRM implementation work with National Park College heavily emphasized this process, establishing a hierarchy for making decisions within the tool, and documenting the best ways to visualize data, ultimately building a solution that didn’t just work with NPC staff, it worked for them.

Bonus tip for Slate users: You can use a Slate portal to build your internal knowledge base. That’s right, portals can be used for Slate users as well as prospective students. Using a portal as your table of contents allows you a lot of freedom with customization. You could include all the relevant materials, plus have completely customized pages based on a staff member’s user role or permissions.

Additionally, you could include embedded forms to help guide your users to the pages they might be looking for. You could also build little pop quizzes throughout your portal to test what your team has been learning from all the materials. Your portal could be set up to be navigated through a menu bar, tabs, or even buttons that help transform the portal into your very own learning management system.

Download Our Templates

Ready to take your CRM management to the next level? Fill out the form below to access our ready-to-use SOP template and a sample table of contents for your CRM documentation.

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