I would like to expand on how to investigate CRM from a previous post and discuss four questions that an organization needs to address. I talk to organizations almost daily who are looking at CRM solutions, so here are a few tips on how to look at a CRM project from my perspective (enjoy)!
1. How will CRM improve productivity within your organization?
An integrated system that leverages existing communication channels, workflows, and improves departmental reporting is a good starting point. Your staff have become accustomed to communication products, so why not investigate how a CRM embeds into items such as email? A single combined business application helps to minimize training costs, and accelerates change management. Make it concrete! Actually write a list of ways in which it will benefit your company.
2. How do you want to roll-out CRM within your company, once the vision has been established and well researched?
You should consider a couple of options: cloud based SaaS (Software as a Service). Basically you pay a small monthly software subscription for each user. The benefits are typically achieved with minimal IT infrastructure costs, scheduled upgrades, large data-center security, uptime, and performance.
On-premise (locally hosted): the investment in software is upfront with a small annual enhancement fee to be paid (ie: 16-18% of the total initial software upfront purchase). The software is on your server, which may already be in place running existing business applications. There are ongoing IT infrastructure costs, but similar benefits are achieved regarding security, uptime, and performance. It is wise to consider both options in order to determine how much investment would be required for software licensing, consulting services, training, support, and administration.
3. Who are the CRM market leaders?
How innovative is the vendor, product, and consulting partner? This alone will determine the best chances for success. Can their CRM product be utilized in your business? Specific market leaders have empowered partners to build trusted business applications that extend CRM to address needs beyond sales, marketing, and customer service management.
How easily can your business users customize the product without having a technical background? This eliminates the need for expensive programming, and increases adoption at the user level. The overall goal should be; can CRM increase revenue and improve profitability.
4. Will CRM provide “out of the box” reports, analytical tools, and dashboards?
Real-time access to information in the form of dynamic reports, dashboards, and query tools simply get the job done faster. What about mobile and tablets? Having your field staff make quick decisions without dialing into the office is critical to any organization (ie: finding a sales quote; invoice; contacts..etc)
Knowing the answers to these questions will make your evaluation much, much easier!
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