Friday, February 18, 2011

Six Things a CEO should know about CRM

Apart from the detailed functionality, there are six criteria that a CEO should make sure are addressed before the company commits to a new system.

1. Will the evaluation succeed?

If one department runs the evaluation, chances are the other departments won’t want to use the system. If everybody is involved in the choice, the final solution risks being overly complicated and will die a slow death once rolled out. Make sure you get the balance right between keeping everybody happy and committee paralysis.

2. Will my people use it?

Sadly, the number one cause of CRM failure is that the people on the ground won’t use it. Make sure that system is fast and easy to use, does not have features that get in the way of useability, that people are bought in to the project, that management reinforces the system’s use and importance.

3. Can we get the data out?

Sooner or later you’ll need to get the raw data out of the CRM system, either for analysis or for migration. If you have an in-house system, make sure that the data is stored in an industry standard file system, such as Microsoft SQL Server. If you choose a hosted system, make sure that you can get a complete copy of your data whenever you want in a sensible format. Possession is nine tenths of the law.

4. Will it always be available?

If the CRM system goes down, your sales people can’t sell. If you have an in-house system, make sure that your IT staff understand the data structure and can rebuild the system if it fails. If you choose a hosted system, check the vendor’s Service Level Agreement, standby procedures and disaster recovery plans if their main datacentre fails, and regularly get a local backup of the data for your own piece of mind.

5. Can it expand with us?

Make sure that the technology can cope with multiple offices and, if expanding internationally, local time and date formats. From the pricing viewpoint, check whether additional user licenses are available at the same price, a cheaper price or a more expensive price if the system that you are acquiring has expansion limited to a certain number of users.

6. Does the vendor value us?

Make sure that the vendor understands your business, so can help your team set the system up. Make sure that the vendor cares about your company.

Thanks to Is 4 Profit for this article