Written by Josep Llort on September 07, 2016
How and when chose a commercial CRM or a custom made CRM solution.
There comes a moment in any company when the marketing and sales department need tools to manage both clients and all requests for partners and customers. At this turning point companies thinks about a CRM (Customer Relation Management) implementation.
In OpenKM, as in other company cases, this time came one year after starting the business project. Daily requests from potential customers did not allow an efficient monitoring and collapsed the department of marketing and sales; an unforeseen success hurt us temporarily.
Incorporating a commercial CRM solution within the company, it is a critical issue, because the data used is crucial. A good or bad choice will surely have effects within the company, so spending time taking the right decision worthwhile, because this is a marriage with a complicated divorce.
The first thing we did was assess the situation. Gather data; consult with our sales and marketing staff how they performed their tasks and problems that were presented. We were clearly told, that we had to use some sort of tool to manage the data handled in the department of marketing and sales.
This stage is critical. Businesses are different and processes that work in each company - even within the same sector - can be very different. In our case, we had a volume of e-mails constantly growing, which were not properly cataloged and we were not allowed to follow the historical sequence of potential customers.
It is essential to determine the details of the problem you want solved and analyzed the data. For example socio-economic and demographic data in order to help the marketing and sales department in the decision-making process.
Decide for a commercial application that already exists in the market, should be the first option to consider.
The main advantages are:
We choose a custom made CRM solution as when we cannot adapt to existing business solutions, or when do it means more cost to the company. It is difficult to identify a priori these scenarios because in general we will think positively that we can adapt to the new software.
There are several factors to consider when assessing the acquisition of a CRM; in our case we considered the following:
In our case, we evaluated several CRM solutions (all open source). We installed them; try them for 1 month and at the end we decided for one.
Although it was possible to work with the open source version without cost, we opted for a solution with professional support in Cloud; which meant savings on investment in servers, and technical staff to maintain them. In our case the contracted service kept backups periodically and allowed us to backup them on our servers (always a good idea to have a decentralized security copy).
We parameterize the CRM within its capabilities and integrate through the API available the web forms, to incorporate the requests.
We use for several years commercial CRM solution with some problems, including:
A radical change in the user interface precipitated our decision to opt for a tailored CRM solution (although it was an issue that had long been within the company). This is a problem that can occur in any software; providers are incorporating improvements and are no longer supporting older versions, so the user is forced periodically to update. Although not common, one of these improvements, it meant just the opposite for us. A radical change to improve application aesthetics, influenced negatively on the performance of the same, making that the time between screen were regrettable and increasing complaints from sales department
We chose a technology that was known to us and we rely on the OpenKM API as document management repository to store and manage records, e-mails and all user documentation.
We consider the experience with commercial CRM as positive; It allowed us to identify everything we needed and everything that was left over us, while we identified what would allow users to manage data in few steps screens.
We create an e-mail catalog logic that allowed us to lead in each case the contact to the sales person, while such e-mail stood in the register of each client, partner or potential client. The logic of cataloging contemplated the cases mentioned above, including a special tray that allows the administrator to analyze daily emails that could not be automatically cataloged (about 0.01% of emails are not automatically cataloged). This allows us to easily follow all the historic, both from CRM as from the DMS itself.
Advantages of a tailored CRM:
The main disadvanteges are that the company should dedicate resources to the application depevolpment and testing, and that it requires qualified personnel within the company.
Obviously, every company is different and depending on the requirements of each, and existing computer systems, the decision will be different. Commercial CRM are very powerful but is counterbalanced by the need for investment to adapt them to the specific needs of each business model. And this may entail significant costs.
By calculating the costs of implementation, maintenance and licensing, it is very likely that a custom-made CRM implementation, will be more efficient.
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