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Pam Selección de Software CRM: A Best Practices Approach


Avoid These CRM Software Pitfalls!

If you know the all too common pitfalls in the Selección de Software CRM process ahead of time, you can avoid them. Before proceeding to the software evaluation, negotiation and purchasing phases, go through this checklist and make sure you have mitigated or are prepared to deal successfully with potential pitfalls.

Total Cost of Ownership – An on-premise CRM system can have hidden costs in hardware, installation, space, maintenance, energy, certification, upgrades, training and payroll (man-hour) expenses. Few, if any of these, may be sufficiently addressed openly by the vendor.

A SaaS or hosted CRM solution can overly restrict your future options if there is no easy way to transfer your data should you decide to move to another vendor or platform down the road. Tricky contract language can also trap you in a continuous renewal cycle. It's therefore vital to consider and calculate total cost of ownership (TCO) and escape budget surprises before you make any final purchase decisions. Stay aware that the costs presented by the salesperson may not be the total costs. Make your cost comparisons carefully.

Auto Re-Ups – Buyers have a natural impulse to buy more of the same. A familiar brand tends to feel safer even when you are not entirely happy with it. If you and/or your IT team are experienced with any software brand your tendency will be to buy CRM software of the same brand. This can be a mistake, however. For one thing, same brand software solutions do not necessarily automatically integrate or transfer data. If they do, they may not integrate smoothly. Or, you may be purchasing a CRM solution that does less – or far more – than you need. If it does too much, you'll likely pay too much at the initial purchase transaction and thereafter in terms of user complexity, software maintenance and continued upgrades. If it does too little, your company and customer objectives will suffer. However, there are CRM software systems that do integrate well with same brand software of a different ilk. And, there are CRM solutions that integrate with other brands well. The point is, you need to know all this BEFORE you buy.

Regulatory Compliance – If your industry is heavily regulated – think everything from the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (Sarbox) to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to the Gramm Leach Bliley Act – you need to know whether the CRM system you are considering supports these legal requirements. Some people make the mistake of thinking that hosted CRM is the only platform that can cause compliance issues but that is incorrect. Compliance problems - such as inadequate user security, poor audit trails, inauditable processing outputs and more - exist in some on-premise CRM systems as well. There are numerous CRM solutions that are designed to meet or exceed regulatory requirements. If your industry is regulated, it would behoove you to sort your Selección de Software CRM options by compliance rankings first and above any other consideration.

Intelligent Insight – Data without context has little meaning and is therefore useless. Be sure you know what your business intelligence needs are so you can determine what level of analytics you require in a CRM system. You may find a CRM and business intelligence (BI) solution combination will be a better fit. The same applies to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and CRM as integrated or separate solutions.

Your end goal is to be intimately aware of everything happening in your business and to be able to accurately model and forecast future business. Customer Relationship Management is a vital part of that knowledge and it is not interchangeable with other parts. However, it should not stand alone either. Further, you need to establish whether you want your CRM software to be used by one department (sales, marketing, support, etc), a few departments or all departments in your business. Cross check to see what other software applications these departments are using - and whether new CRM software would replace or compliment existing solutions. This will help you identify a CRM application that works well in these environments and that does not require repetitive data entries and therefore increased cycle times and labor costs.

More is Not Always Better – CRM software vendors work very hard to differentiate themselves from the pack. This has led to some great innovations. However, it also means that there are a lot of impressive features to choose from and it's easy to fall in love with features you didn't even know existed. However, buying what you love instead of what you need is a costly common error.

Stick to your prioritized requirements list during your decision process. The only exception: a feature you did not know existed but can clearly be mapped to measurable business value. If that happens, calculate the extra cost of adding it to your requirements list and then calculate the actual returns it is likely to deliver. Be careful that you do not let your fascination with the feature influence your calculations.

Finance Quirks – Generally speaking, on-premise CRM software purchases fall under the capital budget and SaaS or on-demand (aka hosted) solutions are categorized under operating expenses. However, nothing is ever quite that simple so check with your accountants or finance people on the best way to finance your CRM software to optimize your cash flow and minimize your tax obligations. If you are replacing an existing hosted CRM solution, re-assess where the old solution fits in your operating expenses so you don't have skewed numbers to compare to the costs of a new CRM solution. The typical hosted CRM subscription is for a one or two year period. However, your budgeting and accounting methods may have undergone changes since you first signed on for hosted CRM. The result can be a misalignment between your initial numbers and your current obligations. Look to see if the CRM purchase cost has moved position in the line items or undergone any other budgetary change that could be skewing your evaluation.

Contract Traps – No two CRM software contracts are alike and no one lawyer is likely to catch every nuance and caveat in any given deal. It is important, then, that you read the contract closely to see if it actually reflects the deal you agreed too before you turn it over to your legal department for their review. Here are some common contract traps to look for, but do keep in mind there are others to guard against as well:

Seat Count vs Seat Use – CRM vendors vary when it comes to 'Named' versus 'Concurrent' user counts - and the difference is usually financially significant. Some CRM software license agreements require companies to name users rather than number them. If you are required to name staff that will be using the software and an employee quits, is laid-off or retires, you may not be entitled to let another employee use that seat in short order or at all. You may have to pay for another seat assigned to the new employee. This expense add-on can continue until the end of the agreement term. However, indicating a number of employees rather than named employees that will use the CRM software can be another pitfall. Some contracts restrict or eliminate your ability to scale down the number of users until an assigned adjustment date or renewal. This stipulation can leave you paying the higher rate even though you are not using the seats. Negotiate these types of restrictions out of the deal before you buy.

Upgrade Requirements – Some contracts can require you to pay for costly upgrades even if the upgrades add little to no value to your company. Be on guard for this in on-premise contracts (as hosted CRM companies generally do not charge for upgrades, however, be sure to check and see if this is indeed the case before you sign). Hard upgrades may also require you to buy newer hardware to operate. Look for a means to opt out of upgrades when and where you need to.

Data Ownership – Make sure the CRM contract specifically states that you own the data your company uploads to a hosted CRM solution AND that you have the means to download your data on-demand. If you don't, you could find yourself in trouble if you ever want to move to another solution. Your data could become hostage to sudden vendor charges or over-priced export fees.

Security and Storage – Make sure the CRM contract spells out information security guarantees from hacking prevention to regulatory compliance to disaster recovery methods. Storage is typically an issue with SaaS CRM solutions. Make sure the contract provides sufficient data storage before additional fees for additional storage kick in.

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Scores of failed CRM software implementations have identified common pitfalls that can be proactively mitigated by the informed CRM software buyer.


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