Requirements to Consider Before Purchasing a CRM

Updated: October 26, 2010

Most people are using software lists to find possible products that can be reviewed and then finally purchased to accommodate their particular business need. The mistakes of using the wrong list or category might mean that you are not getting the chance to evaluate the appropriate solutions and time and money will be invested to no value to the company. To help guide you through your early thought process, we have created a review of the ways that CRM software is displayed in lists. This should also give you some criteria that you can use when trying to create your short list for your more in-depth review. But before you begin to start to compile your list begin by developing a high level set of requirements for your organization CRM solution.

CRM Software Categorization Types:

Type of License

Software today is sold in a variety of licensing methods. Generally they will be Open Source or Commercial varieties.

Open Source

Open Source is where the software is free, but there are no protections or guarantees nor support. There are many variations of open source licenses. Examples of this are: Apache License, 2.0, BSD licenses (New and Simplified), GNU General Public License version 3.0 (GPLv3). You can read more athttp://www.opensource.org/licenses/index.html . These differ in how they license topics such as Redistribution, Derived Works and Source Code.

Commercial

Commercial is the traditional license where the software company conveys the ability to use the software to the purchaser in some fashion. Usually there are some level of guarantees and support. A commercial license heavily restricts what the buyer can do with the software, mostly the source code is not provided. If fact the buyer in most cases does not actually own the software, but is granted usage based on the restrictions.

Size of Company

Companies when building a product will specifically target a segment of the business community by adding or limited as needed the range of features and capabilities in the software product.

Many products do not actually disclose this, but with some knowledge and review these different version can be identified: "small" or "Mid-Market" or "Enterprise". Features will overlap but generally the Enterprise version will have significantly more capabilities then the version for the small to mid-market.

It is important to understand the size market the software was intended. Buying enterprise level solution even if one could afford it, would not be wise due to the difficulty to implement, support and use. Buying the correct sized product will lead to a more successful implementation and has costs that are in line with the size of the organization.

CRM Component Focus

There are primary objectives for CRM that most CRM products fall into. This represents the primary focus for the feature set of the software.

Today this generally means one of three areas:

  1. Sales Force Automation / Management
  2. Marketing Campaign Management
  3. Contact Center Management

Some CRM software will have one, two or all three areas represented in the same solution.

Architecture Platform

Architectural platform is the technology tools and components that the software has been built with or is aligned to use. With a few exceptions a CRM solution is designed to run only in a single technology platform.

There are too many to list but some of the more popular platforms are:

  • Linux / PHP / MYSQL / Apache
  • .NET / VB.NET / MS-SQL / IIS
  • Apache / Java /

Installation Venue

CRM Solutions can be installed in one of three places:

  • By the company in their facility. This is "on premises". Note that they facility could be local to a company building or remote, i.e. installed on a server at a hosting company. Typically the company will pay for the software, and add license costs for each user plus and hardware or hosting costs.
  • In a hosted facility. Software as a Service (SAAS). This is a solution that usually the software vendor or one of its partners provides the software already setup - ready to go. The company will pay cost for each user, typically on a monthly basis.
  • Hosted in a cloud. This can be either of the first two methods, but run within the cloud.

Other Considerations

There are many areas of customer / consumer software that does into fit into the one of the primary focus areas. However they are called CRM at times.

Some of these are:

  1. Analytical reporting and analysis
  2. Predictive marketing
  3. Master Data Maintenance (MDM) / Customer data tools
  4. Loyalty systems
  5. eMail Marketing
  6. Web Marketing or web analysis
  7. Customer Service tools
  8. Customer portal
  9. Knowledge portal
  10. Marketing automation tools
  11. Channel marketing tools
  12. Mobile CRM tools
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