Features Are Not The Most Important Aspect Of Your CRM
By Jim Berkowitz
Here are several excerpts from an article by David Tabor, CEO of SalesLogistix, Four Dirty Little Secrets of CRM Requirements Lists:
While discussions about CRM requirements are important, they also distract management from the issues that matter. Take a look at why.
Secret #1: Features are less important than User Adoption. A CRM system without users is just a database schema with a user interface. So getting users to get on the system early is a key success factor.
Deploying features in a "big bang" release is not the right approach for CRM projects. Agile techniques and incremental deliveries let you optimize for ease of adoption and early business value. So instead of focusing on one feature list, work the problem as a series of small but coherent feature sets that each solve a contained business problem for the users.
Secret #2: Features are less important than Data Credibility. A CRM system is only as good as the data asset it holds. The credibility of CRM data comes from its business relevance (timeliness), accuracy (cleanness), and scope (number of users and systems feeding the database).
Secret #3: Features are less important than Platform. There's an old saying that the best CRM systems are built, not bought. While it might be more precise to say that the best CRM systems are assembled from subsystems that are bought, for sophisticated customers there is no off-the-shelf system that can check all the boxes.
So the key issue in evaluating CRM systems is, how malleable are they? Can their user interface and object model be configured to meet your needs without coding?
When development is required, does the system have the richness and stability of APIs that makes custom coding a good decision? Does the platform provide the two-way data access that will enable solid, real-time integration with outside systems? Is the system architected as a series of Web services?
Secret #4: Features are less important than Reliability. Think about reliability in a new way: Is the system good enough that you can rely on it to make key business decisions?
Of course, when you're going for budget and making project plans, a well organized feature list is indispensable. But know that the four secrets described above will mean more for your success than any item of CRM functionality provided by the vendor.
I would add a 5th Secret: How it works is more important then what it does. I always have my clients think in terms of "which processes do you wish to improve" rather then just what functions and features do you need. Much of the "core" functionality contained in a CRM solution are similar between various products; in other words, what they do is not all that different. But the "way" they do these things (i.e. the built in processes) can be very different. When evaluating different alternative solutions, it's critical to have vendors demo process flows (ex. how new leads are handled from beginning to end) and not just a bunch of disparate functions and features.
About the Author:
Jim Berkowitz is a seasoned executive with more than 30 years of professional services and project management experience related to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Financial Management (Accounting & ERP) software solutions for small, mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies. As a Sales Force Automation and CRM Consultant, Jim has assisted more then 100 companies with the design and implementation of custom CRM solutions.
Mr. Berkowitz is the founder and President of CRM Mastery, Inc.; a company dedicated to serving small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) by offering affordable tools and guidance to help them plan for and succeed with their CRM initiatives.
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