Buying CRM

So it starts with a common conversation:

CRM Partner:  “So you are thinking of putting a CRM system in place”

Buyer: “Yes we are, how much will it cost?”

CRM Partner: “Well, I cannot give you an indication of cost until we understand a little more about your requirements”

Buyer:  “Well I thought this is what you do, I don’t understand why you cannot tell me how much it will cost”

CRM Partner:  “Yes, it is because CRM is what we do, that I cannot tell you without knowing more about your needs”

It is usually at the point the buyer displays a frown and starts to question the competence of the CRM partner.

I am of course over simplifying the conversation – in most cases. Clearly this sort of conversation is not limited to a CRM system, any form of system that can be tweaked, customised, developed etc. will probably invoke this sort of conversation at some time.

Buying CRM - Like Building a house

So it is as this point that I introduce the metaphor of going to a builder to ask them to build a house for you.

Everyone can relate to a house, and can relate to the concept of the process of asking a builder to build them a house and asking how much will it cost.

The builder will have to ask, ok what type of house?

Bungalow, 2 stories, 3 stories, a cellar, how many bedrooms, how much living space, bathrooms, stairways?

And this is just a broad outline of the requirement.

This would be similar to a conversation around the broad requirements for a CRM system. Do you need Company/Accounts, People/Contacts, Leads, Tickets/Cases (customer service), Opportunities, Products, Quotes?

As demonstrated above, both a house and a CRM system have common features. However, the builder of either will still need to have some definition to work to, in order to start quantifying the effort. A CRM system may be considered to have an advantage over a house as most systems will have the foundation of all these features “ready to go”. But there is still a need for the CRM builder to know which components are needed.

Then, the buyer might say, well I would like a swimming pool, an office/study, observatory! as well.  So from the core requirement comes custom requirements. Then, there is security, how many locks, what type, how many people need what level of access?

I guess you are getting my point by now.

At this stage the builder may be able to give a broad budget estimate, but it would be dangerous to consider this as a close estimate, the devil is in the detail!

Buying CRM - ArchitectHowever, the next stage in the building process is to get pay an architect to start a design.  The house/CRM system needs to be designed to ensure it can be built.

At any point in the process, there will be compromise. A nice to have feature may be simply too expensive to warrant inclusion, it may take too long, it may not be technically feasible. It could become a future extension or phase.

Finally, in the build process, at any point there maybe a change of mind, a new feature request, the architect and/or builder will have to review the impact of this new request on the design and the cost of incorporating that change and apply that to the overall cost.

One final point, at this stage, in most cases someone wanting to build a house won’t have done it before, similarly with building a CRM system. So this is where the builder should support the buyer and offer as much expertise and experience to the buyer as possible. The best builders will not simply take the requirements and build to that. They will discuss, challenge, offer options and alternatives to the buyer. The outcome should be something better than the buyer originally envisaged.

So when you are looking to implement any system, CRM, ERP or other customisable system (or house!) consider you requirements and work with your builder to understand the cost of each element.  Share your budget with your builder, that way from an early stage in the design the builder can better guide you as to how to make the best of that budget.

In part 2 of Why is buying CRM like building a house, we look at hooking up to the utilities and moving in.

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