CRM Software is a key business strategy whether you are a large enterprise with thousands of customers or a small business with a select, but equally important customer base.
Generally, your strategy will be the same – to keep customer information in a single place that allows you to have everything about that customer at your fingertips. This will mean that you maintain a link between your sales, marketing, customer and even your finance information. The goal however is to increase opportunities and sales and maximise the productivity of your staff.
The type of system you choose will be determined by your needs now and in the future. Do you build and configure your CRM software solution based around a specific product or do you use a web based CRM software solution to suit today’s needs with a view to growth? Either way, your CRM system will be a function of budget and requirements.
Configuring a CRM system may cost the same whether you have 20 users or 100 users so economies of scale do exist. The return on your investment is better the more users you have as a customised system could have theoretically the same amount of consultancy time if the roles were the same.
Your decision point for an in-house configured system is made for you if you need to integrate into your own systems. For example, do you need to integrate into your accounting system, your distribution ERP system or your warehouse? This solution will also require specialist consultancy support and is not a normal function of a "off the shelf" stock standard systems.
Web based CRM software, using software as a service provides a substantially lower entry cost into CRM than an in house configured system. For many small to medium enterprises, paying monthly fees based on the number of users yields a more cost effective initial price point. If your needs are based around CRM software traditional applications such as contact management, marketing & lead management and activity management such as calendars, phone calls, then a web based approach will probably be right for you.
Web based CRM software however may not be as flexible as you want and have limitations on how you can customize your CRM because they are multi tenancy. This means that you have many people using the system and so parts of these systems must be standard. Therefore, you can’t make the changes you need for own situation. It may well be that web based CRM is a good fit for you if you want a stock standard CRM system for marketing, sales and customer service teams.
Your decision point is therefore whether you need to integrate into your other business systems or not.
A typical CRM strategy is to begin with a web based CRM. Small, but growing companies might deploy their CRM in a hosted environment initially with a view to migrating into an in-house system when financially appropriate. The initial cost of ownership does not justify an in-house system and budgetary constraints may prevent owning a system. Today, such options exist. For example, Microsoft Dynamic CRM can be deployed in a web based CRM software environment but later the configurations and data can be redeployed into an in-house solution. This is incredibly flexible and totally seamless.
Planning CRM strategies is therefore a key element of your business strategy. Having a three year cost of ownership analysis, together with understanding your integration requirements into other systems will determine whether an in-house CRM is suitable or initially you will be better placed with a web based CRM software solution.