Yes it’s true when your company departmental leadership team gets finished with a CRM project they have included the sky, the moon and the stars as desired functionality but what you get as a user is a bloated unusable CRM system.
My recommendation is to put your CRM platform on a CRM features diet and get lean and mean if you want strong user adoption. The key message is priorities your features & configurations based on the benefits you are trying to deliver to the end user community ala sales, marketing and service teams who have to live within the system you build.
Ideas on how to execute on your CRM features diet to create immediate impact or benefit to the user might be:
- Clean up forms and only include required database fields. Ask yourself why you need specific information and when was the last time anyone used a specific field.
- Provide drop down selections to keep data consistent and clean.
- Integrate with 3rd party data providers to insure data is up to date and relevant. My personal favorite can be found here!
- Build automated process to eliminate repetitive tasks.
- Call your top 3 sales, service and marketing eagles up and ask them what can be done in the CRM platform to deliver a better solution.
- Consider a cloud based deployment to minimize IT involvement.
- Incorporate a 3rd party marketing tool to drive drip marketing campaigns that provide relevant and actionable data.
- Ask the users what personalization they are after and then deliver it by role in a real time dashboard!
- Eliminate screens, commands, views and reports not relevant to the targeted users.
- Toss in telephony integration with screen pops to give back something to users!
- CRM now equals mobile so make sure you deliver on this as a top user priority.
Make CRM system adjustments a ongoing priority and your organization will demonstrate successful, repeatable processes with performance measurements that will deliver strong CRM user adoption.
I have always wondered why a parachute was not part of a traveler’s lofty airline seat price. Including this might give some a little piece of mind if anything went wrong between the bad inflight snack options and your final destination.
I feel software as a service “SaaS” CRM deployments should be looked at in a similar fashion. So many companies rush in and subscribe to SaaS CRM, but fail to look at a contingency or parachute plan. In fact, I am seeing a large number of CRM SaaS customers asking for alternatives based on hidden costs and unplanned issues with the original vendor selected.
Below is my summary of items to consider preventing your organization from becoming a dissatisfied cloud CRM users:
Pros of a SaaS CRM model?
- Economics (which you will see in the ‘cons’ section as well) – SaaS CRM applications are subscription based with per user per month license fees providing lower initial costs. In addition, having the SaaS provider manage the IT infrastructure means lower IT costs for hardware and the people needed to manage it all.
- Time to value – Software subscriptions can be turned on once a subscription contracts are completed allowing users to log in and go. I would however suggest reviewing a previous blog post on defining process automation to support a successful CRM deployment to get the most from your investments.
- Reductions in IT dependencies – Individuals who reside on the business side will like freedom CRM SaaS brings because you can subscribe and go. Since organizations have no hardware or software to buy, install or maintain you can bypass IT and deploy.
- Accessibility – If users have a connection and a browser, CRM SaaS applications are available from any computer or any device.
- Upgrades go away – Because the SaaS CRM vendor manages all updates and upgrades, there are no patches for customers to download or install. This model keeps the CRM vendor engaged in your success!
- No Vendor Lock-in – Since companies are subscribing on a term contract you have flexibility to leave a vendor and move to other options at time of contract completion.
- Great way to test or pilot – Since CRM has had such a high failure rate within organization the SaaS CRM model allows for quicker test of user adoption with subsets of users prior to broad-based rollouts.
- Software compliance – no subscription no use hence no software piracy or overbuying of licenses that go unused if your user count is off.
- Integrations – Early SaaS CRM vendors struggled with this topic but this has shifted from a con to a pro with so many options including leveraging vendor API’s, web services and third party integration tools. A great reference article to view is The 10 Building Blocks of SaaS CRM Integration.
Cons of boarding your SaaS CRM plane without a parachute?
- Economics – I realize this was listed as a pro but if looked at over a 3 to 5 year total cost of ownership model, on premise software can be a cheaper option leaving a customer with ownership.
- Downtime – One of the largest concerns of a CRM SaaS model is if vendor system goes down!
- Connectivity – Connectivity in most cases are reliable in major metropolitan markets but ISP’s do go down which can cause remote users possible challenges.
- Data security – This has become neutral or less of a con as CRM vendors are meeting industry standard data security practices.
Recommendations or parachute to put in place prior to selecting SaaS CRM vendor:
- Understand total cost of ownership?
- What is your data migration option if things go south?
- Do you have backup ISP if yours fails to delivery access?
- What if any hidden costs exist to support requirements of deployment?
- Can data be taken offline?
- What Software License Agreement “SLA” terms are offered by the CRM vendor?
- Can you get out of your SaaS contract if you decide to migrate on premise?
- What third party utilities or software can be added in the SaaS model to address gaps in core CRM platform?
I want to close by saying that I am a big fan of the CRM SaaS model and with good due diligence can deliver a strong CRM deployment model.