Why look for the right technology?
“The best technology in the world does NOT guarantee the BEST CRM project.”
- Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate
When choosing the technology that’s going to be the platform for your CRM implementation, I think there are broadly three categories to think about:
- Off the shelf generic CRM platform
- Off the shelf vertical industry type platform
- Build-it from the ground up approach.
Off the shelf generic CRM
With a generic CRM platform, obviously you should look for one that is customisable. Look for the place where you can buy functionality that meet your particular functional needs and just bolt that in. Therefore you can blend the solution to meet the needs of your requirements.
Off the shelf vertical industry type platform
The vertical solutions can prove they’re very productive but we have seen instances where it’s been an over engineered solution. Some people have had to unpick some of that functionality to get it to a level where it suits their particular business.
Build-it from the ground up approach
Let’s consider the build-it approach for a minute. The obvious pro is that it has the potential to give you exactly what you want with no license fees. However, building something from the ground up is a serious investment. I do know companies that have done it and done it very successfully, but they tend to have quite a large team around supporting that.
We have also taken customers who have come away from that approach. This is mainly because the expertise and the support of the application has left the company and they find themselves at risk of not being able to carry out further development or support. This is an option, and something to seriously consider, but it might not be an obvious solution as you might initially think.
When Looking for Your Technology…
Look around the peripherals of the solution
- What kind of community is there? From a user and a partner perspective?
- What sort of support can you look for? Read the comments on the forums, take reference visits, speak to customers that are using the technology that you have short listed. Understand how it works for them, the benefits they have seen and what they went through to get the system implemented.
- Really try and investigate down into the product and make sure that it’s fit for your business.
Consider the three Cs of system modification
- This is where part of the system can be modified, controlled, managed by changing options through some form of Administration capability.
- This might cover the management of Users, Security, Menus/functions etc.
- Again perhaps managed via an Administration capability, but allows the system to be extended in some way, adding fields, tables, forms.
- This might include looking at 3rd party tools, utilities etc. to add “off the shelf” proven functionality.
- This is where the developers get excited. You want it red with blue dots, let the developer at it!
- Some times necessary, but should be less so these days.
Our recommendation if do as much as you can with Configuration, then Customisation and then, if really necessary, Code.
By keeping to the above approach, your ability to remained supported, be able to upgrade with less issues significantly improves.
So how to select the right solution for you? Consider the following as a starter:
How really specialised is your business processes?
- Do you need a highly vertically focused solution?
- Will a customised CRM solution provide what you need?
How do you need to access the CRM?
- Internally only?
- Externally via a web browser?
- Externally on a mobile device?
Do you want a choice of hosted/cloud or local install?
Does the product have a good community?
- Do you have a list of support partners?
- Is there an active development community providing valuable add-ons?
- Is there an active user community?
- Are there product related community events? – If so, go and attend one!
I hope that you enjoyed this series, and that it provided you with some insight on your own CRM project. If you have a bit of time, the videos in this series can be found here (link opens in new window).
If you’ve come to the end of this series but missed the first four Critical Success Factors, the first in this series can be found here.