Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tips for choosing the right CRM system.

In our previous Post We talked about CRM systems and processes in general, today we will be talking about what you should keep in mind prior to implementing a CRM system in your business.

If you do a web search on CRM systems you will undoubtedly end up with a long list of results each pointing to a different product, so which one would fit you best? which product can give you the best value for your money? why would product A be better than product B? these questions and more can be answered by keeping some key points in mind.

The following is a small set of tips that aim to assist you in the decision making when process when deciding on which CRM package to go for.

  • Implementation Cost, some would say that this is a very obvious thing to keep in mind, How much will a CRM system cost to implement? Well the other thing to keep in mind when looking at cost is to not ignore the added value of the system (i.e. How much will implementing a CRM system is going to save the business in the long term?).

    It is a very good idea to review the added value of implementing a CRM system against the cost of implementing it and making a decision based on that, making a decision on cost alone could knock some potential systems off the list.

  • Vendor Reputation and Product Popularity, Who is behind the system you are looking at? how popular is the product? what do existing users of the system think about the Vendor and the system itself? how long has the Vendor and the product been around for?

    You should always make sure to find an answer to the above questions, a well known and established product is likely to be more robust than a system which just came out, Vendors who have been around for a long time are less likely to disappear into thin air few months down the track.

  • Ease of use, How easy to use is the product? this is very important, having a streamlined , easy to use interface is crucial to any successful CRM system, your staff will be using CRM in their every day work activities, the easier and the more intuitive the system is the more productive your staff are going to be.

    Having systems with counter-intuitive work flow, clunky and over crowded interfaces tend to cause a loss of productivity because your staff will spend most of their time trying to get the information they need rather than getting on with their work.

  • Can the system be configured to suit your needs? with CRM there is no One size fits all solution, every business has its own specific requirements , a good CRM system is one which can be easily adapted to meet today’s highly complex and ever changing requirements.

    A simple example on the above would be the ease at which the Customer’s entity within a CRM database can be modified, maybe the business wants to add a new set of fields to store information about their Customers cars, a good CRM system would provide its admin users with the tools to do so, on the other hand locked down systems would have you contacting the vendor in order for them to implement the changes (which can be a costly and time consuming process).

  • Interactivity and Connectivity with your existing business systems, in today’s world a typical business would use a plethora of software packages and systems to do what needs to be done, Email clients, Word Editing software  Spread sheets and accounting systems are some examples of what you would find running in a typical business environment.

    When looking at a CRM package consider how well it can connect to your commonly used software systems (e.g. Email and Word Processing software) , having a system which can integrate well into your other office software means that you can do your business without having to jump all over the place since everything is connected together, thus saving you time and adding value.

  • Mobility and information sharing, this is a big one, these days a business can operate from all over the world, you can have branches in different continents, Sales Teams operating in different countries, business managers going all over the place on weekly basis etc, your staff need to have instant access to their data no matter where they are.

    With regards to CRM systems you want to consider the above and how well does a CRM package meet the demands of today’s highly mobile business force, some of the things to keep in mind are
    Mobile Connectivity , Web Based Access and Synchronized Databases

    If a CRM system does not offer any of the above options then chances are your on the road staff will have a hard time trying to get the information they need to do their job thus impacting their productivity in a negative manner.

The above is just a sample of what to keep in mind when choosing the right CRM package for your business, we hope this article has given you the information needed to assist you in your decision making process.

If you would like to know more about CRM systems and the CRM process in general then feel free to contact Xact Software Solutions, we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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