CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software comes in all kinds of forms from countless vendors. There is not doubt that every organization should be using CRM software. It simply isn’t enough for a business to keep spreadsheets of data and private contact lists with client information anymore. Businesses need reliable data that can be analyzed, reported, and accessed by anyone in the organization. Once your organization has made the choice to implement CRM software the choice is what software do you use or do you hire a consultant to build a custom solution for you.
First, and most importantly, don’t build custom CRM software. Seriously, don’t do it. It wont work. Unless you have the development budget of Microsoft or Google you are never going to be happy with what you get. A good CRM software application costs millions of dollars to plan, develop, test, and maintain. A single person or small consulting company will not be able to create you product from the ground up to meet all your needs.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Many organizations think that none of the CRM products out there really meet their needs. Or they think that because their business is different than a traditional sales based company that traditional CRM software just doesn’t work for them. Both of these assumptions are wrong.
First, a good CRM software application is customizable. You can create new types of entities, edit the entities that come with the software, and change the data those entities store. No matter what your organization is you can shape a good CRM software application to your needs. If you are considering CRM software that can only be changed by programmers, don’t buy that software. CRM software should be relatively easy to modify by anyone who has read the manual.
Second, even if the software that is currently available can’t meet your needs 100%, I guarantee that the custom software you are considering making or that some consultant is trying to sell you wont even be in the same ballpark as your needs. I have seen dozens of CRM solutions that were build by consultants that cause more headaches than they solve problems. Microsoft Access, FileMaker, or custom a custom web application are not good CRM applications for any organization.
I wont go into too much detail on these points, but here are some more things to considers:
- Is your data secure? Where is the application hosted? Are you using encryption?
- Is your data going to be backed up daily? Don’t know, then it probably isn’t.
- Is your custom web application compatible with multiple web browsers?
- Can you access your CRM data outside your office?
- What will be the cost to make changes to the application?
- Can multiple people use the data at the same time?
- Can you build customizable reports?
If your application can’t do these things then it is time to consider something new. These features are the basics found in any established CRM software such as Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. For most companies, I would recommend using one of the online hosted CRM solutions. These solutions will be much easier and faster to implement and will cost less to maintain and upgrade in the long run.
If you are considering implementing or upgrading your CRM software give us a call. We will always give you an honest assessment of what will work for your business. We don’t sell proprietary in-house CRM software that makes us huge margins like many other small consultants. We will recommend to you what is right.