Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hassle-free CRM Software Implementations

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a centralized system for managing and tracking all your business information relating to your customers. Like all technology, a good CRM system must be well thought out and planned before integration into your infrastructure.

Pre-Implementation
Aside from the hardware and CRM software, a properly planned CRM integration begins in the Pre-Implementation Phase. Most projects fail because of poor pre-planning. You must understand and quantify all the requirements, costs and stakeholder support. Below is a sample checklist of pre-implementation issues to address prior to any CRM integration project:

  1. Create a realistic timeline
  2. Specify practical hardware requirements the CRM software, factoring in intermediate term growth in storage and processing needs
  3. Win key stakeholder buy-in by including them in the design/decision process
  4. Examine the relevant processes against industry best practices; determine which processes require changing and make plans to accomodate those changes
  5. Calculate a budget with some padding
  6. Set your final implementation goals
  7. Develop your integration strategy
CRM System Options
Any good in-house CRM system is driven by a mainstream database that’s widely supported. This type of CRM software requires a client/server infrastructure and a good technical support team. Your IT staff may require additional training and support, and you may need to expand your infrastructure. In-house systems are ideal if you are dealing with sensitive client information and you want to manage your own security arrangements

The other option is a hosted CRM software. In this case, the CRM database resides outside your organization in a secure environment eliminating the need for hardware investments. An internet browser and high-speed internet connection are the required elements. With a hosted CRM solution your business will still need to be networked, and a good IT team is crucial for user training, buy-in, and support.

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