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CRM Recommendations - For CRM Software Selections

Recommendations to avoid the 7 Most Missed CRM Software Selection Tasks

  1. Don't measure ease of use one screen at a time
    One of the all time most missed evaluation points is "ease of use". While this evaluation topic shall always
    be a subjective one, there are key points to consider in order to maximize user interface intuitiveness and
    overall ease of use for your user communities. First, determine if mouse-less navigation would accelerate
    transaction review, entry and processing and appeal to your users; particularly for those head-down
    power users. While mouse-driven navigation is the norm, it is also unquestionably slower. Several online
    SaaS vendors offer both modes of information system navigation. Second, make sure you consider
    navigation and page simplification. A common mistake is to attribute ease of use from only looking at
    individual pages. The misconception occurs if the vendor only places a minimal number of fields on a page.
    The page looks extremely simple, however, your users may have to navigate through multiple pages to see
    the complete picture (that could have otherwise all been included on a single page). Counting keystrokes for a knowledge worker to complete their daily processes can be an eye opening experience and show major differentiation between web-based CRM systems. A common complaint among on-demand CRM software systems is that in order to navigate from account to account, the user must first navigate backwards to an account list as opposed to working down a custom list - that also displays the account information - one account at a time.
  2. Don't be fooled by fat clients disguised as thin clients
    The better SaaS CRM solutions were designed as thin-client solutions to be hosted over the Internet. Nonetheless, in order to capitalize on the SaaS business model, several legacy and fat client software manufacturers took a forced approach to hosted delivery. These vendors generally require users to download and configure ActiveX or other code programs. Recognize early that SaaS solutions which require local code downloads will not offer the same performance, ease of use, accessibility from anywhere or system maintenance advantages as native thin client solutions. For organizations which support traveling staff, home users or mobile devices, fat client downloads will become even more problematic.
  3. Don't underestimate data conversion
    Most CRM software buyers do not recognize the upcoming challenges they are about to incur with regard to data conversion. Recognizing in advance that source data is likely to be dirty, duplicative, inaccurate and incomplete will allow the buyer to set more appropriate scheduling expectations and solicit the on-demand CRM vendor for any data manipulation tools they may offer. Most web-based CRM software vendors offer data deduping and cleansing tools.
  4. Review application integration tools and methods
    For several (but not all) web-based CRM software products, system integration from your CRM system to your legacy systems is routine. Nonetheless, it is also an area that if left to vague requirements, inexperienced staff or antiquated integration techniques is likely to exceed timeframe and budget. Give the vendors integration tools a proper review and if an API or Web services approach is proposed, ask to see the actual API or web services (along with WSDL document) so you understand the documentation quality and scope of the integration method.
  5. Analyze software customization
    Diligent CRM software buyers generally do recognize the amount of software customization needed for their implementation objectives, however, often underestimate the time required. The CRM SaaS vendors tools make a very big difference in accomplishing customization timely. They will also dictate whether the customization can be performed by a business analysis or require the technical skills of a programmer.
  6. Don't fall prey to insufficient training
    Planning the amount, curriculum, quality and timing of user training is a commonly missed task that leads to unexpected project delays, increased costs and magnified user adoption challenges. During the software selection project, plan to invest up front for training courses. First steps should begin by understanding how the vendors consultants or third party consultants approach training. Beware that many consultants deemphasize formal training programs as they are often not performed by normal consulting staff. In fact, the best training programs are consistently provided by dedicated trainers. Once you understand the consultants initial approach, make sure to tailor it to your organization. Training with a demo company configuration and data is not nearly as effective as using your actual company configuration and real data. From a course content perspective, make sure there is a thought-through course curriculum as opposed to consultants are trainers simply winging it. In order to promote user retention and go-live confidence, make sure to conduct training just before the go-live.
  7. Caution with multiple version software solutions
    Perhaps the number one complaint we here is that the buyer didn't recognize they would soon upgrade from the software version they bought to the software version they needed. Several of the popular hosted CRM products offer multiple versions with varying restrictions, functionality and price points. Whether these vendors intend to lure buyers with low price points and up-sell them after the sale is a matter of debate. However, many frustrated CRM buyers would claim nothing less than unethical bait and switch tactics. If you acquiring an on-demand CRM software solution that offers multiple versions, be insistent on getting the documentation that describes the differences among the version in detail. Similarly evaluate technical support costs. A few on-demand systems are deceptively inexpensive but make up for it in ongoing support costs. Be sure you understand what you are and are not purchasing before you sign on the Customer Relationship Management software dotted line.
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