Buying The Best CRM System For Your Business
Here are several excerpts from an article by Patrick Gray, President of Prevoyance Group, Four tis for buying "big" software:
Buying "big" software, a massive ERP package, salesforce automation or CRM package, or a business warehouse can be a harrowing process. Your offices are besieged by software and implementation providers, business stakeholders offer conflicting requirements, and you are rarely sure if the budgeted time, money, or both are adequate. Further complicating matters is the fact that you will likely have to live with the software for years, potentially struggling through a multi-year implementation process and then enhancing and maintaining a technology that may be with you for decades. With the long road ahead in mind, these four tips can help ease the process:
1. Buy based on the business case - Big software vendors are experts at flashy pitch sessions, where neat features are spotlighted and amazing efficiencies are promised. While these are all well and good, most big software implementations fail due to scope enlargement generally due to adopting the software to meet a business requirement, rather than a feature not working as expected. Evaluate your software decision in light of the business case that triggers its purchase, and demand the vendor demonstrate how their software will support your key business processes…
2. Factor in all the costs - Perhaps the most pressing pain of big software is its costs, felt all the more acutely when the budget is overrun multiple times and the CIO is sent hat in hand to beg for more funding. The best way to get a handle on costs is investigating past large implementations at your company. Look at the amount of customization that was required versus what was expected, and use that to extrapolate implementation costs. Failing that, multiply your expected implementation costs by two, especially if they seem incredibly low or rely on some newfangled methodology the vendor is pitching that they claim will make implementation nearly painless.
3. Get "real" references - It is certainly expected that you will ask vendors for references, and most will provide you with glossy "case studies" riddled with compelling quotes, with a "CIO just like you" detailing how the package went in "on time and under budget, and brought about world peace in our time." These should be regarded as marketing copy rather than references, and you should insist on talking with current and past customers of the provider. Past customers that the vendor provides were likely successful implementations, but currently implementing customers represent more valuable feedback, since the jury is still out.
Don't shy away from trolling the Web for "horror stories" about that particular package and then calling the CIO of the company. Assuming you are in noncompeting companies, most would be more than happy to talk with you and detail their experiences with the software and provide some caveats.
4. Stack the team in your favor - Implementation "partners" invariably present an interesting paradox. The longer your implementation drags on, the higher their revenue. Allowing them free reign over critical scoping and project decisions is like asking an employee to write their own paychecks. Ensure your team retains control of scoping decisions, and don't shy away from bringing in an impartial advocate to evaluate the project team's structure, checks, and balances before the implementation even starts.Comments
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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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