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CRM Software Selection Best Practices Best Practices in CRM Software Selection

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V. Best Practices Spotlight: Cloud CRM

Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM is not a new concept. It emerged in the late 1990s, during the high tech boom, first as a way to enable smaller companies to level the IT playing field against much larger competitors. Core business applications have always comprised a large part of the SaaS universe; today, a decade later, many global corporations have adopted subscription-based business systems, thereby increasing many organizations’ comfort level with the concept.

Web-architected SaaS applications address myriad business and technology concerns that mid-market companies have as they assess CRM software. These include:

  • Low up-front cost and fast implementation, due to the absence of high software license fees and hardware infrastructure, and much of the implementation being handled by the solution provider.
  • Ease of integration, enabled by a wide range of out-of-the-box application connectors, packaged (XML and SOAP-based) Web services and toolkits that streamline custom integrations.
  • Ease of software customization, using graphically based Platform as a Service (PaaS) tools that allow the CRM application to be quickly modified to incorporate existing business processes.
  • High performance, due to a Web-based architecture that isolates the user from application processing and data retrieval. Information is delivered quickly over the network and is displayed via a responsive, thin-client front end presentation, resulting in a positive user experience.
  • Standards-based, to allow for ease of integration and scalable growth. Most SaaS business applications are created using widely accepted software languages like Ajax, Java and J2EE, and platforms such as Microsoft .NET.
  • Globally scalable, allowing new geographies and lines of business to be easily added, and offering the flexibility to roll up information through different geographies and corporate hierarchies.
  • Relief for resource-constrained IT organizations. Software as a service allows IT organizations to focus on pressing business issues and core competencies, alleviating the need to handle a constant drumbeat of software upgrades and associated integration issues.
  • A growth path that offers the software extensions, scope and scalability to allow mid-size companies to easily accommodate more countries, more transactions and/or more concurrent users.

In sum, subscription-based software delivery offers mid-size companies the chance to gain a CRM application tailored for their needs, while leveraging the cost benefits of shared services and data center infrastructure.

V. Summary

Given the dynamic nature of CRM software in mid-market companies, and its pervasive interaction with many business systems, a full-service solution provider – offering software, deployment and ongoing enhancement – helps IT organizations significantly improve their ability to deploy and evolve a successful CRM system.

By employing a best-practices approach to the CRM selection process, mid-market companies can achieve a real-time, enterprise-wide view of information that imparts benefits including:

  • Short-term: Particularly applicable to SaaS applications, mid-size companies can enjoy a low up-front cost and reduced risk from accelerated implementation. Standards-based, Web-architected software also eases integration with other enterprise applications, and renders the software highly adaptable to existing processes.
  • Mid-term: After the CRM software is chosen using best practices, and fully deployed, it can begin to deliver value immediately. This enables improved decision-making and increases the efficacy of the Customer Relationship Management solution throughout the customer lifecycle, not just in the early stages of the sale.
  • Long-term: Again, the right architecture plays an essential role in an application’s long-term utility. Standards-based, Web-architected CRM software offers the native scalability to grow globally. The choice of a SaaS delivery model keeps TCO low by eliminating the need for internal IT professionals to implement software upgrades and administer the CRM application. End

 

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Cloud CRM offers mid-size companies the chance to gain a CRM application tailored for their needs, while leveraging the cost benefits of shared services and data center infrastructure.

 

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