The hot topic of the week of course is the TSA body scanners and the revealing images they produce. A need to prevent such unwanted exposure has spawned an inventor who created TSA-proof underwear to shield private parts from x-ray machines, prying eyes! The good news with this debate is that you can opt out of the body scan, but watch out for the ensuing dreaded pat down if you choose to do so.
I am starting to think that customers should incorporate a bit of TSA like x-rays procedures during their evaluation of CRM solutions. I say this because I continue to run into so many customers who are dissatisfied with their current CRM systems, but are stuck in subscription contracts that prevent them from gaining the value they believed they bought into. My goal with this weeks blog is to try and help you avoid some of the issues I continue to encounter in the trenches.
Below is a short list of items to drill deep on when evaluating your first or next CRM platform to prevent possible regrets or low return on investment:
- Hidden Costs - This can bite you in so many ways so look at areas of data migration; early contract termination; costs of reducing users; training fees; data-ownership issues; integration; customization; data storage; mobility & reporting. In addition, make sure you are not sold on entry level pricing with incorrect functionality if multiple versions are available.
- Performance – Look for performance white papers and scale testing options based on your data set and configuration.
- Missing Functionality - A vendor demo can be a bit misleading. My suggestion is to validate and re-validate your requirements against solution capabilities to insure what you require is core functionality provided.
- Support -Who is providing this when issue arise? Find out if this comes from the vendor or implementation partner and at what cost per incident?
- Training Materials - What is free and what will be required to insure driving proper adoption. See Is CRM training that important?
- Vendor Stability - What kind of dollars are being invested in R&D and will your vendor be around in 3 to 5 years to support you? See Gartner Market Share: CRM Software, Worldwide, 2009.
- Software License Agreements -What happens if your SaaS CRM system goes down? Does your SaaS CRM strategy have a parachute?
- Open Architecture - This is important to understand in case you need to develop future integrations or move to another vendor.
- Deployment Options -What if you decide that a SaaS model is too expensive long term and need to migrate on premise?
- Customer Evidence -It is never a good idea to be the first at anything including the first person to go through the TSA body scanner…can you imagine how many people looked at that first image? Make sure your CRM vendor can provide some form of evidence that what you are asking to do within their system has been done before.
Resources links – See Gartner Blog CRM and Innovation Spending in 2010, Forrester Wave, SaaS & On-premises.
CRM vendor transparency and incorporation of this x-ray procedure checklist will help create a recipe for making the right choice during your CRM solution selection process.
Disclaimer – References in this blog post to TSA, body scanning, product and pad downs are not an endorsement or rebuttal of the need or opposition to these topics but I would love your opinion!