Sunday, April 23, 2017

Aligning People and Process to Drive Performance

Monday, 16 May 2016 00:00

What Does DPT Stand For Anyway?

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“What does that stand for?” This is a question we often hear when introducing DPT. While the words behind the letters have changed in our 15 years of business, what DPT has stood for all along has stayed the same: Maintaining a clear focus on business performance as opposed to technology implementation. Other guiding principles driving DPT include teaching our clients to fish, addressing people and process factors first in any business change, and promoting Project Leadership to get real and manage risk.

Let’s dive into that first principle for a minute.

Most organizations do not deploy technology and declare success based on loading software and training a few people – it’s to change their business for the better and improve their performance. Those improvements could include process efficiency, improved decision-making, revenue growth and project effectiveness.

The vast majority of performance improvement is dependent on business change, not technology change. At DPT, we focus on the process, people, data, and strategy being aligned toward business objectives. Putting your time and effort into those factors will drive success more than being good at “cool” technology.


Today, we’re proud to say that DPT stands for “Driving Performance Together.” And that’s something that will never change.

Our business results orientation, Project Leadership expertise, and people and process focus are what drive our clients’ high rate of success. If you don’t believe us, listen to our clients. What you’ll hear is a common thread about paying attention to client success as measured in business terms, not technology terms:

Watch our client testimonials:


Want to know how we Drive Performance Together? The first step to create an efficient, customer-centric and performance-driven environment in your business is to craft a custom Business Case Blueprint – get in touch with us to get started. There’s no cost – and no obligation.  Take advantage of our experience to key in quickly on the most critical metrics in YOUR business by getting in touch with us.

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 00:00

How to Avoid the CRM Death Spiral

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Have you heard of the CRM Death Spiral? Maybe you’ve experienced it. Over time, people stop using CRM because it doesn’t work for them, the data isn’t meaningful, and they don’t have the training and processes in place to know when and how to use it. So they gradually stop keeping it up to date. When this happens, the reliability and usability of the data decreases even more, which leads to less confidence in the CRM solution, which leads to less use of the solution… and the cycle continues.

death spiral

If you want to get your CRM back on track, or are wondering how to get started with CRM the right way, here’s a look at the top five CRM success factors to help you avoid the Death Spiral:

1.Don’t ignore user needs

CRM strategies are more likely to fail if compelling reasons for adoption aren’t provided to all users. For example, most sales people believe CRM is “big brother software” instead of a solution to help maximize their selling time and close more deals. Proper CRM strategic planning and design should provide obvious and clear value to the end users – to be more efficient and effective, AND to management – to enable better decision making.

2.Include people and process change factors

Many CRM projects that fail are driven by a “load the software, train the users, and we are done” mentality, which severely limits chances for success. This approach ignores the potential for users to revert back to past practices. Successful CRM takes a comprehensive approach that promotes user adoption, best practices, and continuous improvement.

3.Use the correct sequence

Selecting a software package first will lead most CRM projects right to failure. Likewise, defining processes and functionality before aligning the strategic drivers and measurements will also lower success rates. The proper sequencing of business strategy alignment, process standardization, requirements definition and tool selection is a key factor in determining success.

4.Define business metrics

“What gets measured gets done.” This philosophy applies to CRM via management of sales (close ratios), marketing (campaign ROI), and customer service (resolution efficiency). Without an accurate compass CRM projects can drift away from what is truly important. Properly tied to business drivers, metrics are the necessary feedback component that drives improvement.

5.Don’t eat the elephant all at once

Scope control is important. Well-intentioned projects can go awry with trying to take on the world or focusing too narrowly on a small piece of functionality. Use of proven Project Leadership techniques for effective scope, stakeholder, and resource management will increase the odds of success with CRM.

Let DPT show you how to avoid the CRM Death Spiral. Through our focus on success factors such as solid change management and project governance, DPT can help you drive user adoption, develop meaningful metrics, and build continuous improvement processes to provide real business value and engagement over time. Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your unique needs.




Comparing CRM and ERP solutions is like looking at the difference between apples and oranges. Depending on the business problem you’re trying to solve, it may make sense to pick an apple or an orange – or in most cases – both. While ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) standardizes and automates the back-end functions of a business, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) supports the “front office” functions by collecting customer information to grow a business through increased sales, higher retention rates, and better customer service. Essentially – while there certainly is crossover – ERP helps you run your business efficiently, while CRM helps you grow your business.


Why wouldn’t I just use the CRM module of my ERP or an accounting system add-on?

CRM and ERP require a very different approach to each strategy and solution. As with a car needing both an engine and transmission to drive, most companies need ERP and CRM to grow effectively – they serve different, but critically valuable purposes. Another way of thinking about the difference is how you sell and market your services as compared to the processes you use to deliver them. Each area requires different approaches, skill sets, techniques, and more.

Click to Tweet: "Most companies need #ERP and #CRM to grow effectively - they serve different, but critically valuable purposes."

A good CRM strategy follows a “flexible processes driving technology” approach, whereas ERP typically comes with embedded predefined processes. Most cross functional processes utilize information from both systems. However, CRM is usually a consumer and producer of customer information, but ERP is typically only a consumer. The table below highlights a few of the other differences:


Manages customer interactions and touchpoints

Manages operational information

Benefits – Increased sales, service levels, customer acquisitions/retention

Benefits – Lower costs, growth scalability, compliance

Primary interface for customer facing staff

Primary interface for Operations staff

Requires flexibility to model complex customer relationships

Requires high level of standardization for efficiency

Supports “Owning the customer experience” approach

Supports efficient information management and access

Why do I need to hire a CRM specialist?

Sticking with the car analogy, if the transmission on your car goes out, do you go to a general auto shop or a transmission specialist? What this means is that getting the most out of your CRM means hiring someone that has specific CRM experience and approach to make it useable, provide value, and help your people see the need for using it. Most IT vendors and accounting firms trying to implement CRM the same way as ERP would be like hiring the general auto shop. Adoption is one of the biggest hurdles to CRM success – and ultimately, the ability to grow your business. Hiring the right CRM partner can make all the difference.

While most organizations recognize their need for ERP, they don’t necessarily see the need to have a separate CRM solution. As a partner to many Michigan-based companies, DPT helps evaluate your unique CRM success factors and create a solution that works. Contact us to start a conversation.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016 13:36

Introducing Diane Birtles!

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I am very excited to be a part of the DPT team where so much of my education and experiences come together to better serve our customers. One could call my education and career path downright eclectic. With a technical background in computers and advanced degrees in intercultural studies and counseling one could wonder what common denominator they share: Each of them, at their core, are people and solution-focused. The same can be said about DPT. I am encouraged that DPT puts their focus on the customer and problem-solving first, and when necessary, using technology as part of the solution. Taking the time to listen to the clients’ issues and problems in order to thoughtfully resolve them is a key strength of the DPT team and one that attracted me to join them.

Diane Family Pic

As a Michigan native, I have lived in the Greater Grand Rapids area for over 25 years and thoroughly enjoy the variety the area offers. From great entertainment venues and restaurants to the many parks and hiking trails in the area, don’t be surprised if you spot me at a favourite restaurant catching up with friends or taking a walk at a local park with one of my canine roommates.  Filled with some of the most giving and gracious people, West Michigan is a great place to live and work. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a company that believes in building strong relationships with a focus on local companies.   



Read more about Diane in her bio, and find her on LinkedIn.



As a Michigan native, I have lived in the Greater Grand Rapids area for over 25 years and thoroughly enjoy the variety the area offers.  From great entertainment venues and restaurants to the many parks and hiking trails in the area. [Ma1] Don’t be surprised if you spot me at a favorite restaurant catching up with friends or taking a walk at a local park with one of my canine roommates[Ma2] .  Filled with some of the most giving and gracious people, West Michigan is a great place to live and work. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a company that believes in building strong relationships with a focus on local companies.

 [Ma1]This sentence is incomplete

 [Ma2]Maybe add their names in here?


Want to leverage new technology in 2016 but can’t find the cash in your budget to make it happen? Whether its organizing all of your “siloed” databases, or better coordination of communication to all of your constituents, this is a common struggle for nonprofits. Fortunately, Kent County-based nonprofits have a great option to help.

How to get community funds to help nonprofits leverage new technology

DPT is proud to be an approved supplier for the Kent County Nonprofit Technical Assistance Fund (NPTA) to help nonprofits grow through constituent relationship management, streamlining processes, and project leadership. We have worked with many West Michigan nonprofits to help them serve more people, expand their outreach, and better manage all of their key relationships instead of just with donors. We do this by implementing the right strategies to help them gain efficiencies and become more effective at how they serve – click here to read more about our work with nonprofits.

What NPTA does

The NPTA is a collaborative program designed to address the need for capacity building and technical assistance among nonprofits in Kent County. Grants of up to $10,000 are available from the NPTA Fund to help pay for consulting services. It is expected that the improvements funded by the NPTA Fund will result in a higher level of capacity, which will, in turn, contribute to a higher, sustainable level of community service to residents of Kent County.

Who can apply

Nonprofits based in and serving Kent County with a budget between $50k-$2M that have been operating for a minimum of two years can apply to the NPTA fund. To see a more detailed list of eligibility requirements, please visit the NPTA website.

How it works

  1. Nonprofits define their scope of work and solicit two quotes/estimates from NPTA approved consultants
  2. Nonprofits apply to receive funds with a specific NPTA approved consultant and scope of work
  3. Applications are reviewed and approved quarterly, including options for full or partial funding

As an experienced nonprofit services provider we can assist you with leveraging technology to improve your performance and ultimately, further your mission. While we have many clients we can reference, click here to view video case studies from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Baxter Community Center.  We are also an approved NPTA vendor and can provide guidance for you regarding the NPTA process.

Whether you’d like to know more about how you can improve your nonprofit, or how to apply for a grant, contact us to get started.


Whether your company delivers products or services, you undoubtedly need to measure your success. Most companies already have well-established vital metrics in place… profitability, employee retention rates, units sold, or utilization come to mind. An astute leader knows that such numbers can be gamed for a short while, maximizing one statistic at the expense of true success.

A lean six sigma consultant introduced me to “keep you honest” metrics. Defined more properly as secondary metrics, “keep you honest” metrics provide contextual data. The data should work in tandem with the primary statistic to provide assurance that numbers are telling an accurate story. I’ve heard many times that “numbers can lie and only fools follow them blindly.”


What is it about secondary metrics that gives primary statistics their trustworthiness?

“Keep you honest” metrics must be calculable. Gut feel and experience is no substitute. Choose a statistic that can be calculated easily and seen by everyone. No one person should be responsible for performing a calculation or distributing it. Just as accountability is essential for employees to perform, simplicity and access are essential for creating primary and secondary metrics.

Click to Tweet: How to Create “Keep You Honest” Performance Metrics

Below is a blueprint for implementing excellent performance metrics including both primary and secondary:

  • Define several short, medium, and long term problems to solve or goals to achieve.  In the service industry, the problems are typically categorized by value, outcome, cost, and risk.
  • Determine the appropriate data needed to address the root cause, value, outcome, cost, or risk.  Consider improving how the data is captured, and capturing data in a way that makes it useful to determine the right response.
  • Ensure data is captured in an efficient and consistent way in the new process.
  • Establish goals and measure them for a set period of time before tweaking the process.
  • For each goal, figure out how such a statistic could be gamed to undermine the goal. Put in place a secondary measure to prevent abuse of performance indicators.
  • Use continuous data rather than attribute (pass or fail) measures to gauge effectiveness and control.
  • Measure results and identify predictors.

Remember that the objective for good primary and secondary metrics is to positively motivate the organization. Performance goals should be based on data that can be easily tracked in a system.

Performance metrics are a key part of DPT’s Business Process Management solutions. Like the sound of a well-oiled, smoothly running machine? Contact us to get specific examples of how your organization can use “Keep us Honest” metrics to measure and improve your business performance.

Monday, 15 February 2016 11:06

When Your Technology Vendor Sounds Like Siri

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How many times have you heard these robotic responses to inquiries directed to your technology vendors?

  • We have the perfect solution for you!  We have the solution to all your <fill in the blank> problems!
  • We make it easy for you – it is really simple to implement our solution!  We have a standard approach that works for everyone!
  • Oh sure, we can do that for you.

And how many times have you fell for one of those lines and ended up in a conversation similar to one that perhaps you’ve had with Siri on your iPhone?  You know the one - you think you’re being very clear with your questions and you keep repeating them – possibly rephrasing or with a slightly different inflection – and ultimately give up in frustration because you’re just not getting through.

Your Tech Vendor Sounds Like Siri

Click to Tweet: Here's what to do when your #technology #vendor sounds like Siri:

We’re all looking for technology to solve business problems and we often mistakenly think that a technology vendor can solve all our problems. Some can but it takes more than a technology solution and if the vendor is not capable of more than that, then you need to find someone who is.  Let’s take a closer look at those statements.

“We have the perfect solution for you!” or “We have the solution to all your <fill in the blank> problems!”  If they haven’t sat down with you and taken the time to listen to your needs, how do they know it is the solution for you?  At DPT, we believe in the local, personal touch and taking the time to understand why certain information is meaningful in the context of your organization.  We put ourselves in your shoes when we work with you on solving your business problems.

“We make it easy for you – it is really simple to implement our solution!”  “We have a standard approach that works for everyone!”  The technology is the easy part – it is understanding your business processes and the people who work those processes and use the technology that is key to successfully implementing technology.  Good people and good business processes drive performance.  Technology simply assists.  One size does not fit all when it comes to assessing what is right for your organization.  It is certainly important for a tech solution to be scalable but the business processes for an organization of 3-4 people are very different from the processes for an organization of 20 or 200 – and your software solution needs to be configured to your business processes.  At DPT, we make sure you have solid processes in place before looking at technology solutions.

“Oh sure we can do that for you.”  When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like or can be made to look like a nail – and some vendors just have that proverbial hammer.  This is one of those situations where you will have better luck talking to Siri because sometimes she will respond with, “That may be beyond my abilities at the moment.”  While you may be frustrated, at least Siri knows her limitations.  You need to know your vendor’s limitations – whether or not they do!


You want more than technology.  You want more than a robotic voice assistant.  You want solutions to real human business problems.  Give us a call. We can help you avoid that frustrating Siri conversation and get you on track for improved business performance!

Monday, 01 February 2016 21:56

3 Ways to Invest in Your Nonprofit

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Were your fundraising events successful?
If you’re like most nonprofits, your initial reaction would be to put those funds directly into your client services. While this is a great way to support your mission, this routine needs to be balanced with investing in organizational improvements that will streamline your nonprofit operations and ultimately, advance your mission to reach more people. Thinking more like a for-profit business can help you make solid investment decisions.


Here are three high priority ways to invest in your nonprofit:

  1. Streamline communications to all of the people tied to your organization.
    Solving the “over-communication” problem once and for all needs to be a priority. You’re probably familiar with the donor who is also a volunteer, who also serves on an advisory committee… How many duplicate communications have they received? Eliminating information silos and creating the ability to connect multiple roles to your constituents allows you to communicate to them with one “voice.” Investing in your processes and systems to support all of your relationships is a great way to get started.

  2. Manage and track your service delivery.
    Donors are demanding more visibility and results-oriented feedback. Whether for directed donation tracking or compliance reporting, investing in the ability to monitor the services you’ve delivered allows you to provide results quickly and save time for your organization. Making this connection between donor relations and service delivery tracking as efficient and effective as possible provides benefits for both areas of your organization.

  3. Integrate your marketing strategy across all channels.
    How can you best reach out to support your clients? What communication approaches will motivate your donors to support your cause? A robust marketing strategy should tie together traditional communication methods with your website, email campaigns, and social media to speak to your supporters in the way that resonates with them. As an example, tying mailing responses to your automated digital campaigns allows you to guide donors down the appropriate nurture tracts. These channels are unique and should work together to tell your story more effectively.

Click to Tweet: Start the year right - 3 ways to #invest in your #nonprofit: #strategy

In summary, these are just three of the potential ways to leverage donations to think and invest in your nonprofit the way a for-profit business would. Click to read more about how nonprofits should think like a for-profit.

According to “Think Round,” by Martha Pease, 90% of most organizations’ staff do not touch a customer, however, they strongly influence the customer experience.

In our previous video, we talked about how CRM helps store and benefit your customer-facing staff in sales, marketing, and service areas. Today we’ll dive into how that same Voice of the Customer information can benefit people who don’t directly touch the customer:

Click to Tweet:
Learn how #CRM can provide value beyond customer facing staff. Watch the video.

Reference: Pease, Martha and Campbell, Michael. (2015).Think Round.New York, New York: Continuum Press.


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