How to choose the perfect CRM solution for your business - part 2

Step 3: Planning your CRM project

Involve the right people

The decision to choose a specific CRM solution should be delegated to a core team of individuals to serve and represent the functional needs of various departments.

This requires full cooperation and collaboration amongst users, managers, solution integrators, customers and third parties.

Choose a consultant

Consultants offer specialised expertise in evaluating and implementing CRM solutions. These experts can help your organisation in three important ways.

  • Evaluate your needs and suggest the best CRM solution for your specific situation
  • Save your company time and money during solution install and training
  • Help you get the most out of your CRM implementation, based on your organisation’s requirements

Some of the best CRM consultants are software resellers. Many resellers offer a range of services, including strategy development, business process management, technology implementation and training. (InfoTech link on why sage channel).

For larger CRM solutions resellers often have the additional consulting support of their software supplier to help manage the complexities of the implementation.

Narrow the field

Look for a CRM solution that integrates your back office accounting software and other business solutions so customer information can be updated in real-time, while being shared and employed effectively across the entire organisation.

Be sure that your solutions are robust and versatile enough to:

  • Be accessed from any location – from headquarters to remote locations and mobile workers
  • Seamlessly integrate with your back office accounting solution
  • Integrate with a wide range of third party software or other internal solutions

Keep a global perspective

The ideal CRM solution will integrate your multiple business channels and provide your users with seamless remote access to up-to-date customer information.

Think about the different interaction points your customers are currently using – and likely to use in the future to communicate with your organisation.

A good CRM solution will allow you to retrieve real-time information at any time and from anywhere. Choose one that will fit the functional needs of your solution's users.

Step 4: Select a solution that’s right for your business

Now that you’ve evaluated a number of possible solutions, its time to make a decision. Consider the following when selecting a software vendor:

Interview the resellers before the demo

Familiarise yourself with the various CRM solutions available on the market so you can be confident about your top picks when you short-list the best options for your company.

By interviewing as many software resellers as possible in advance you can avoid time wasted by sitting through lengthy, irrelevant demonstrations.

Pick the best three solutions and ask each reseller to provide the following information:

  • Estimated licence cost for your implementation
  • Estimated build-out costs to adapt the solution to your requirements
  • Time-frame for implementation
  • Annual support and maintenance costs
  • Training methodology and training costs
  • A plan for integrating your back office-solutions as required
  • Insist on user-friendly software

If your solution is not user-friendly, your staff won't be able to maximise the full benefits. Make sure you select a solution that’s logical and easy to use.

Ask the reseller these questions:

  • How easy to use is the software interface?
  • Can the interface be modified to more closely match the needs of my organisation?
  • How easy is it to navigate between modules of the software?
  • What type of software documentation and training will be provided?

Step 5: Implementing your CRM solution

What is the best way to make the implementation process a smooth and successful one?

Consider the following guidelines:

Create a blueprint

To smooth the implementation process create a ‘blueprint’ of your CRM related business processes with your consultant or software reseller.

This document gives the team a pre-determined plan and a set of guidelines to reach your CRM goals

Prepare for modifications

One of the most common mistakes companies make is trying too hard to limit modifications to the selected packaged software.

If you need software that can meet the unique requirements of your business be prepared to make modifications after installing the “out of the box” solution.

Provide good training

Good training is essential and provides the information, practice and involvement needed for your staff to get the most out of the software.

Test before launch

When it comes to something as valuable as your customer data, you will want to beta test every solution component and make certain its functioning properly before taking the solution live.

Enter mock customer data and see how well the solution receives and processes the information.

Plan for ongoing evaluation

Keep in mind that your CRM solution will always be evolving. As a result implementation never completely stops.

Ongoing evaluation of your business processes will help you maximise the benefits CRM can bring to your organisation.

The right CRM solution for your business

We’re confident that the more you know what CRM can deliver, the more likely you are to seriously consider – and ultimately choose – Sage CRM. In other words, our software stands up to the most stringent selection criteria.