People are the most important 3

User stories and CRM go together like peanut butter and jelly.

You don’t need yet one more opinion on what’s happening on Twitter, right? I didn’t think so. In that case, I’m going to talk about how we are creating user stories to gather our own requirements.

I’ve been struggling to get a handle on my sales data. We have a CRM but because we’re a small business I cannot afford the tier that would allow me to do any kind of custom reporting. Our CRM allows for basic functionality at the moment, such as collecting prospect data and tracking deals. I’ve been scratching my head, trying to figure out a solution to this. These are some of the options I considered.

Do I switch CRMs? That’s a pain in the butt for a couple of reasons. First, I would need to evaluate my needs and write up my requirements. Next, I would need to evaluate the different CRM options. This might mean talking to other salespeople, sitting through demos, and all that good stuff that I can’t focus on right now. Last, I would need to create a migration plan for all my data and an official rollout of the new processes for data collection on the new platform. Ok, so that’s not an ideal solution.

Maybe I can download the data and merge the different tables using Excel? I would need to first make sure that all the different tables in the CRM are connected with some kind of ID. Then I would need to develop a process for downloading the data, cleaning it, and then merge it. Then I need to create a static report and make some decisions. Another not ideal solution since this one would be time-consuming and error-prone.

After talking to Chris, we determined that he could extract data from the CRM’s API, bring it into Big Query, and build reports in Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio). Automated data extraction and reports? That could work. First, I would need to figure out what I need before Chris starts extracting the hundreds of data points.

How did we proceed, you ask? If you guessed user stories, you get the gold star for today!

Chris and I hopped on a video call last Friday and talked through about 25 different user stories. Why so many? Because I had different questions that I wanted to answer. Going through this exercise did a couple of things. We were able to narrow down the data points that we needed to extract from the CRM. We were able to focus on the purpose of each of the reports we would build. We were able to determine which tables we needed data from. We were able to see where there was an overlap between user stories.

Fun fact, a single-user story hits all the 5Ps.

As a [persona], I [want to], so [that].

The [persona] informs “people”.

The [want to] informs “process” and “platform”.

The [that] information “purpose” and “performance”.

If done correctly and thoughtfully, a single-user story can tell you just about everything you need to know to move a project forward.

Here is an example of some of my user stories for building reports with our sales data:

[1] As the CEO, I want to get a weekly sales report containing deal age, so that I know where opportunities stand.

[2] As the CEO, I want to know what services we’re selling to most so that I can hire contractors for those services.

[3] As the CEO, I want to know the source of a deal, so that I can align our efforts with our digital marketing activities.

[4] As the CEO, I want to know when a deal in the pipeline was last contacted so that I can work with biz dev on outreach.

The user stories are not overcomplicated and the goal is that each one was a single purpose.

What’s next? Chris will write code to extract the necessary data points into Big Query. Once we extract the data on a regular basis using automation, we can build the reports in Looker Studio. I’ve requested that each user story is on its own page in a book of reports, listed at the top so that it’s crystal clear what question is being answered. In my view, it’s ok if there are redundant tables of data. Each user story is its own question and when I am looking for the answer to that question, I can easily find it. Honestly, I can’t wait to start using the data to make decisions.

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