DSC Tech Library
Customer Relationship Management
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to CRM Solutions and customer relationship management software and products.
Providing timely customer service information is vital to maintaining a successful business. Accurate information provided in an organized and thoughtful manner is key to business success.
TELEMATION, our CRM and contact center software, was originally built on this foundation. The ability to modify Customer Relationship Management software is important in this ever changing business environment.
Telemation Customer Relationship Management solution and contact center software is ideally suited for call centers throughout the world.
CRM Best Practices: Selecting an Application
The following is an extract from the article "CRM Best Practices: Selecting an Application" by Joe Outlaw from CRM Daily:
"Developing a well thought-out, detailed set of CRM application criteria is hard work. Using the criteria to create a short-list of perhaps four or five promising CRM applications to support your organization's CRM project should be relatively straightforward. The work gets difficult and serious again in the next step: making a final selection from the short-list.
To the casual observer, the CRM application requirements of one company may look very similar to those of another, and you might expect both of them to go about selecting applications in similar ways. But unique factors -- organizational structure, company culture, I.T. adoption preferences, perceived product alternatives, and others -- make every company's CRM application decision process somewhat different.
This is as it should be. But company differences aside, there are some best practices worth considering and working into any company's decision process.
Build a Team
To make the best possible decision, as well as to encourage buy-in, build a decision team of the right mix of people from across the organization. This team most often will include key representatives from the line-of-business and functional areas the application will support, as well as information technology, purchasing, financial analysis, the CRM project team and consultants.
The business team should include managers, process owners and the new application's users. The I.T. team should include architecture strategists, support managers for the other business applications that may interface with the new and technology experts.
Representatives from purchasing are needed to compare purchasing terms. Likewise, financial analysts are needed to calculate the costs associated with each application alternative accurately and consistently. Consultants are optional, but they can aid the team by bringing to the table knowledge of alternative applications, industry and CRM project experience, and the ability to facilitate the decision-making process.
Starting with the CRM application requirements created for the short-list process, create a hierarchical decision tree or score card to be used in comparing each alternative against your set of requirements. Determine how each branch will be scored: yes/no, 1 to 7, A/B/C, or something more specific and relevant to the topic.
Determine the relative importance of each requirement, sub-requirement, or sub-sub-requirement, and assign weighting factors accordingly. For example, support for opportunity management may be 30 percent of the sales-support category requirement, which may be 35 percent of the overall application functionality component, which may be 40 percent of the overall decision.
Although specific requirements vary, they tend to fall into broad categories, such as application functionality, vendor and costs. The weights for these categories will vary by organization and, therefore, must be assigned by the organization. Application functionality, or the ability of the application to support the organization's specific CRM processes, usually carries the most weight, but other criteria -- such as vendor viability, underlying technology and cost -- can be more or less important to any given organization.
"The categories we use frequently with clients are business/functional (How well does the solution address specific business processes?); technical (application architecture, development options, integration options, security and support for industry-specific data models); partner viability (the vendor's financial strength, references, support, product direction and industry experience); and total cost of ownership," Deloitte senior manager Frank Yang told CRM Daily.
Execute the Process
The number and sequence of decision-making events is up to the team, but this flow often works well:
- Provide each alternative application vendor with a description of your requirements. This can be as formal as a detailed RFI (request for information).
- Invite each vendor under consideration to present to the team its application messages, advantages, and ability to meet your requirements.
- After each vendor presentation, have each attending team member score each alternative on the criteria.
- Stack-rank the alternatives based on these preliminary scores.
- Provide the leading two vendors with more specific requirements (sample process flows, data and scenarios), and invite them to come back with a prototype for a more detailed demonstration and analysis of their applications and their ability to support your requirements.
- Again, after each of these sessions, have each attending team member score and rank the alternatives.
- Make the decision based on the full team's review and analysis.
"It is not necessary, or even desirable, for every member of the decision-making team to be involved in every aspect of the decision. But it is important for the same team members to participate in all of the vendor presentations and demos to see and hear the same stories," says Gartner research director Dale Hagemeyer.
The full and active participation of all team members in the process is important for several reasons. The most obvious reason is to make the best possible decision. Less obvious is to obtain the buy-in of those groups into the final decision. Perhaps even less obvious is to avoid the bias of one group over another, as might be the case between the business users and the I.T. team.
"By defining and implementing real business scenarios, with screens touched by real users and updates made by the I.T. staff who will maintain the system, both groups can better see the requirements of the other, and come to a better overall decision," advises Forrester vice president Erin Kinikin.
One significant additional step for companies considering an on-demand CRM application, such as NetSuite or Salesnet, is to conduct a short pilot test with a small number of users. These vendors typically offer a free trial period of 30 days for up to 10 users.
A pilot can be useful to verify an application's usability and completeness of functionality, for example. Unfortunately, this kind of trial is usually time- and cost-prohibitive for all but the most basic software-based CRM applications.
Another useful step can be checking some of the vendor's current customer references, if this was not done as part of the short-listing process. There are mixed opinions on the value of reference checking in the final decision process, but if you do check references, focus on speaking with two to three, and keep the feedback gathered in proper context.
"Press for the most relevant references. Ones in your industry can be useful, but it is more important their implementations be in support of similar requirements -- including numbers of users, geographic scope, and functions supported (sales, customer service, marketing, call center)," recommends Deloitte's Yang......"
To view the entire article, visit www.crmdaily.com.