Guidelines for Choosing Your CRM Software

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1 Guidelines for Choosing Your CRM Software Find your perfect solution

2 Contents 2 Preface 3 Four success factors when switching CRM solutions 5 Nine quality criteria for providers of CRM software 9 Get to know your candidates: the final choice 11 Future steps Preface CRM software is becoming an essential corporate tool 1 : by 2017, the budget invested into CRM solutions is predicted to rise to USD 36.5 bn. This means that more money is being invested in CRM systems than ERP systems. Using a CRM solution properly is vital for making the most of its added value and the software you choose heavily influences the later success of the project. These guidelines are intended to help you analyze the CRM market and choose the right solution. We wish you success in choosing the right CRM software! ¹ Gartner (2013): CRM survey 2

3 Four success factors when switching CRM solutions 1. Use CRM as a part of your corporate strategy The basic functions of CRM systems include collecting, analyzing, linking and using customer data. Professional sales, service and marketing departments use the database system intensively. As an interdepartmental tool, the CRM system provides a 360 view of customers and supports all employees in a company in working in a uniform, customer-oriented manner. Prioritizing activities based on data is efficient and makes your processes more attuned to customers' needs. The initial investment into a CRM system pays off quickly: you get a quick return on investment (ROI) through significantly more efficient workflows. 2. Evaluate your company's internal structures and workflows Introducing or replacing a CRM system is a good opportunity to analyze and optimize existing and/or deadlocked processes. Identifying weak points in your workflows (current status) will help you document your requirements for the software. Based on the current status, you can define the desired target status. At this stage, it is important to distinguish between necessary measures and improvements that are just nice to have. 3

4 3. Define your CRM goals Focus on documenting your processes and CRM targets based on your analysis rather than defining specific software features and functions. Good CRM providers understand your process-related requirements and translate them into technical requirements. This ensures you only get the software functions that you actually need. 4. Designate an interdisciplinary project team Implementing a CRM system has an extensive impact on all areas of your organization: change management is thus an important component in successful CRM projects, as is involving all stakeholders from an early stage. On the one hand, introducing the CRM system must be supported by the highest levels within the company. On the other hand, all departments that will be using the system must also be represented in the project team. The user perspective is a decisive factor and must be taken into account when selecting the CRM software. Regular status meetings and communicating the preliminary results and successes foster a positive sense of responsibility and ownership of the new CRM system. People CRM Technology Processes 4

5 Nine quality criteria for providers of CRM software Once you have defined the role of CRM within your company, you can start investigating the available solutions. All premium CRM systems have a similar scope of features. The following nine criteria will help you shortlist the best providers. 1. Industry expertise CRM projects are highly complex. The better the software is oriented towards specific challenges, the higher the chance of achieving timely successes. CRM providers that offer preconfigured industry-specific solutions are familiar with your sector's business environment. Industry-specific solutions include all the most important functions required by an industry and provide a stable foundation that can be customized according to your requirements. Customer references are a meaningful indicator of the provider's industry expertise. 2. Focus on processes Introducing a CRM solution ideally goes hand in hand with optimizing your processes. The right software supports your processes and redefines them where necessary. In addition, it combines technical adaptability with transparent costs. Even in their standard versions, premium CRM solutions feature visual cues that guide users through the different process steps. 3. User friendliness Even the best CRM solution can only provide added value if users accept it and work with it. User-oriented software only displays the data that is relevant to the current user. Context-sensitive CRM solutions guide users through their tasks intuitively: this leads to noticeable reductions in the work load and intensive use of the software. Far less training is needed and the first measurable successes can be achieved very shortly after the rollout. 5

6 4. Integration into the IT environment Different departments often use different software systems to store customer-relevant data. Integrating these third-party systems into the CRM system is vital to ensuring that you benefit from valuable synergy effects and that you achieve a comprehensive view of your customers. When choosing your CRM software, check what interfaces are available for software such as ERP systems. If all the necessary interface modules for basic functions linking the CRM system and other software solutions are available, you can remain independent of third-party providers. 5. features The volume of data stored in CRM systems is growing - and in turn the demands placed on analysis tools are also increasing. Cutting edge CRM solutions should include selected analytical functions even in their standard versions. Check how mature the CRM software's analytical functions are. If your analysis requirements change over time, your CRM system must be able to support them. 6. Mobile use According to a study by the consulting company McKinsey2, mobile internet use will be the most influential technological development for businesses and society in the coming years. Being able to access the CRM system on mobile devices is not a luxury, but an essential function for sales and service employees. They can work efficiently anywhere and at any time, making a positive impact on customer satisfaction and your business results. For maximum security and user friendliness, the CRM system should work in both online and offline modes. 2 McKinsey Global Institute (2013): Disruptive technologies - Advances that will transform life, business and the global economy 6

7 7. In-house or SaaS CRM solutions are available in licensed models and SaaS models. Licensed models require greater investments, but they also offer greater flexibility when it comes to customizing the software. If you opt for the SaaS model on a monthly basis, the costs are invoiced based on your actual use. Additional advantages include shorter implementation times and the fact that the provider is responsible for maintaining the software. Reliable CRM software providers should listen and respond to both your requirements and concerns in equal measure. The SaaS model is often, but not always, the right solution to recommend. Switching from one model to the other allows you to adapt flexibly to changes to your corporate IT strategy. 8. Implementation method The method of implementing the project is crucial to its success. Specialized technical expertise, in-depth experience with change management and the ability to communicate effectively about sector-specific issues are also significant factors. Because of the nature of CRM projects, companies are often not able to build up these capabilities in-house. Even amongst software providers, this broad spectrum of capabilities is not always available on demand. This is why personalized project management from a single source is such an important criterion when looking for the right software provider. 9. Technological leadership The future belongs to innovative companies. CRM offers tremendous potential which is not even close to being fully explored yet. Select a provider who invests in research and development. You are choosing your new CRM system for long-term use, and will be extending it step by step. The software must remain state of the art in order to support you in your endeavors. 7

8 Summary These nine criteria will help you structure your process for selecting a CRM software provider. By the end of your market analysis, you should have short-listed five to ten CRM solutions. The number depends on the size of your organization and the level of your specific software requirements. In the next step, you will need to examine the selected products and providers in detail. Evaluate your CRM software Compare selected CRM vendors by checking the following nine quality criteria. Step by step you will find out which software solution is the right one for you/your company. Checklist Industry specific 2. Focus on processes 3. User friendly 4. Integrated into IT environment 5. tools 6. Mobile access 7. In-house or SaaS 8. Implementation method 9. Technological leadership 1: Very strong / 2: Strong / 3: Neutral / 4: Weak / 5: Very weak 8

9 Get to know your candidates: the final choice 1. Reducing the number of providers Extend the overview of the CRM market you have developed by asking more in-depth questions and narrow down the shortlist of potential providers further. The extent to which your CRM partner, their products and services deliver clear and simple answers plays an important role in this process. 2. First presentation Invite the remaining short-listed providers to give a presentation that they must qualify for in writing. Based on the documents they submit, you can further cut the shortlist. The selected companies can then come and present their products in person. Virtual live presentations are gaining in popularity because of the scheduling flexibility they afford. During a demonstration of the software, you can clear up any questions concerning the solution and also the nature of your cooperation with the provider. CRM providers that already contribute to a better understanding of your internal structures even in the early phases of the process are at a clear advantage. 3. Working together Substantiate your CRM requirements together with representatives of your short-listed providers. One important success factor when implementing CRM software is documenting your functional specifications together with the provider at an early stage. This is where you often get very different opinions from software specialists, delivering useful inputs for your CRM project. If possible, ask for an opportunity to talk to the providers' existing customers: such informal insights are highly valuable. Note that your providers can only submit a concrete and transparent quote after this type of cooperation. Any information about costs provided before this are purely estimates. 9

10 4. The final shortlist In many cases, you will already have identified a favorite provider at this stage. However, if you are planning a very complex and comprehensive CRM rollout, carrying out one more round may be worth it. Compare the candidates on the short shortlist in terms of special requirements, based on the insights you gained in the workshops held with them in the previous phase. This round in the process can also focus on adapting the quotes you received. 5. Making the right choice Do not rush your final decision. View your thorough evaluation process as part of the project plan. Only by making sure that you have set up the right conditions can you ensure that you will belong to the 50 % 3 of companies that verifiably profit from their CRM project. Selecting highly specialized software requires taking many different interests and factors into account. The "chemistry" between the product and the people behind the software company determines how successful you will be. The relationship between you and the provider will continue beyond the rollout. Personal contacts at the help desk and in the project management team will make your daily CRM routine easier and maintain a reliable, comfortable relationship that is worth it in the long run. 3 zdnet (2009): CRM failure rates:

11 Future steps By choosing the right software solution, you have achieved an important milestone on your way to the perfect CRM system. Develop its long-term use further and make CRM a fundamental part of your successful organizational culture. Living CRM and its benefits: Shorter sales cycle Effective marketing More efficient and effective customer care CRM: centered around customs Optimized customer-relevant processes Fast and intelligent access to information Uniform, company-wide customer data Read more about the benefits of CRM: Blog» 11

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