How to select a CRM System that meets your needs

By Jelani Harper
Updated: July 06, 2011

The key to selecting a Customer Relations Management (CRM) solution which is suitable for a particular enterprise lies in its initial assessment of its current and projected needs for such a system. Contributing factors which may determine a particular type of CRM include security needs, size and efficacy of an IT department, as well as the degree of flexibility and autonomy desired and previously implemented within a business’s current communication systems. CRM is offered in hosted or on-premise form, open source or otherwise, and can often be specific for call centers or configured for common applications such as email integration.

Evaluation Process

The best method for evaluating which type of CRM is most suitable for a particular enterprise is to facilitate a diagram of existing communications and customer architecture that indicates at what specific point CRM will affect this infrastructure. Depending on the results, management can ascertain what the most important requirements will be for the proposed solution, as well as whether it should be enterprise or departmentally based.

Hosted

Hosted CRM products work best for enterprises which are usually small or mid-sized, and which typically don’t require a lot of specialization for their customer service needs. The hardware is housed and managed from a remote location, while its software is accessed on-demand with uniform system requirements and connectivity choices, all of which is paid for in low monthly installments. This is an efficient solution which requires minimal implementation time and is readily assisted by inclusive service plans.

On-site

On-site CRM solutions are generally utilized by larger enterprises, as they require a significant amount of up-front capital to procure. Consequently, the installation and management of such systems are primarily handled by in-house IT departments, which greatly benefit an enterprise by allowing for a superior degree of integration and customization compared to hosted products. Additionally, security levels are optimized since all date is kept in-house without third party intervention.

Open Source

Open Source CRM products can be found in hosted, on-site, and in hybrid solutions, and are valuable to enterprises which desire high levels of autonomy and flexibility with their customer management. Open source products are highly mutable since their product codes are unveiled and subject to as much manipulation, and specificity, as the customer desires. Open source products are both commercial and accessible by free email download, and can involve the support of a surrounding email community for many potential user issues. However, uncertain code quality and system failures may occur in communal based open source products.

Additional Features

Other criteria which may determine an enterprises’ choice of CRM include whether there is enough demand for CRM for call centers (which may be hosted or onsite), significant need for CRM to email integration, and whether the primary purpose of a CRM is for sales or customer service support. Ideally, information gleaned from the aforementioned architecture diagram will indicate such needs, and direct an enterprise to a suitable solution.
 

Featured Research
  • 7 Ways Your CRM Helps Convert Leads

    Failure to convert interested leads can impact your bottom line drastically and simultaneously increase your operational costs and decrease your profits. The most common reason for this failure is lack of follow through from a sales team. Did you know that 74% of CRM users said that their CRM gave them improved access to customer data? And that by properly implementing a CRM, a business could shorten the sales cycle by 8 to 14%? more

  • Is Your CRM a Liability

    Is your CRM a liability? Before you answer too quickly with a no, just think about all the advancements that have taken place over the years regarding this technical solution. In fact, just in over the past decade there has been a dramatic shift away from on-premise systems to cloud based solutions. more

  • 12 Must-Have CRM Features

    Having a CRM is absolutely essential to any modern day business's success. In fact, 91% of companies with 11+ employees now utilize a CRM solution in their business. When making the decision to purchase or upgrade your CRM solution, it can be quite overwhelming determining which features are essential to your success versus those that pack more fluff than punch. more

  • Making the Case for a New CRM

    Did you know that having an outdated CRM is just as bad as not having one at all? Do you find yourself working even just a little too hard to make your current CRM work to maintain your contacts and relationships? While it is increasingly more difficult to reduce customer churn, modern CRM tools are much more powerful and provide much more opportunity to develop stronger relationships with your clients that can provide more stability and revenue to your company and bottom line. more

  • Don't Make These 10 CRM Mistakes

    Finding and buying a CRM is exciting. It is also quite daunting as you want to be as prepared as possible so as to avoid making a costly mistake. We have seen that many businesses fail when implementing a CRM, as they repeatedly make the same errors over and over again. more