Clearly define your goals. Map out the processes that will be impacted by the new application. Establish a plausible return on investment and a timeline to reach it. Make room in the budget to train employees on the system. These are some of the implementation “rules” for CRM solution projects that have become ingrained in IT lore over the years and decades. To be sure, many are still viable, such as clearly defining a project’s goals (Kind of a no-brainer, right?). There are other “rules,” though, that can be safely discarded.
For instance, the assumption that a company has to twist arms to drive adoption of a new CRM system or upgrade can be relegated to the waste bin. This was certainly the case in the early days of CRM, especially among sales reps. It was understandable, though — for sales reps, time is money and the earlier iterations of CRM were very cumbersome and difficult to navigate. Also, the line of business user rarely saw the benefits of all of that data entry. Instead, it was the sales managers and upper-echelon execs who were the beneficiaries of data crunching and analysis.
Today, though, CRM applications are far more user-friendly, and most have features aimed at helping business line users do their jobs more effectively. At best, employees need a gentle nudge to embrace the new software, says Laura DiDio, principal of the consulting firm ITIC. In surveys that ITIC has conducted on CRM users, she says, “the one thing that has been constant is that companies get the most usage, the most adoption with the C-suite leads by example.”
“When the CEO, CFO use the package, tout its benefits, it encourages employee usage,” DiDio says.
SaaS Isn’t Necessarily the Best Fit
Another “rule” that should be rethought is the knee-jerk impulse to use software-as-a-service. Not to disparage SaaS; as a delivery mode it has many benefits. Also, the number of vendors with SaaS offerings seems to increase by the day. There are so many different products in different niches and functional areas that even large enterprises have been able to meet their computing needs with SaaS.
That said, on-premise software is hardly dead, although the marketing hype around SaaS might have you thinking otherwise. In her research, DiDio says, “on-premise CRM was the most popular choice among 57 percent of respondents that had CRM.”
In short, a decision to switch to SaaS should not be a slam-dunk or made without a great deal of consideration. Bill Claybrook at TechTarget wrote a great rundown of the issues when deciding whether to opt for on-premise or SaaS. Briefly, the reasons to stick with on-premise, according to Claybrook, include cost (a subscription service could become expensive as a business grows), the possibility that a SaaS provider could fail and difficulty with customization.
Data Integration Can Still Be a Challenge
A final “rule” that can be discarded, unfortunately, is that the integration woes of earlier CRM iterations have been completely cracked. Integration, especially of data, is still a problem for many small and mid-sized companies, and it’s recommended that you seek expert help with CRM implementation to be sure you get it right.
This Scribe’s State of Small Business (SMB) CRM study, just released, found that only 18 percent of small businesses reported fully integrated marketing data within their CRM app. The lack of integration leads to such problems as sales reporting challenges, and difficulty in sharing critical financial data on prospects and customers with the rest of the business.