Hosted CRM Buying Tips

By Jelani Harper
Updated: May 12, 2011

There are a significant number of factors to consider before purchasing a hosted Customer Relations System product, as a plethora of vendors exist which offer a wide array of capabilities and features. The best process for determining which particular option is right for a specific company is to conduct a substantial analysis of its current and projected CRM needs, review the selection of vendors which suit those needs, and thoroughly evaluate the installation and maintenance concerns the implementation of such a solution would require.

Early Research

Companies should determine what specific needs they require of their CRM before committing to a purchase. Typical concerns include the system and interface requirements of a company’s present software and applications, as well as the ability of the current system to accommodate an influx of greater levels of data. An ideal method for determining the CRM needs of a particular business is to develop an architecture diagram that shows where the CRM infrastructure will fit into those of existing systems. Such analysis will help determine whether the required solution should be enterprise-based or individualized for specific departments, or what particular features, such as mobile connectivity, are necessary.

Vendor Selection

Perhaps one of the most significant concerns indigenous to the decision making purchase of a hosted CRM product is security, as such a purchase delivers a company’s valued customer base and proprietary information into the hands of a third party. The evaluation of a vendor’s security measures is an utmost priority and requires the discernment of what sort of security access the host company will have, as well as how a company’s data will be monitored and backed up. The protection of customer information is essential to ensure customer privacy and confidentiality.

Other criteria for determining a specific vendor include gauging whether the potential host’s software can meet the needs of a company, as well as measuring the adaptability and scalability of a product to accommodate a variation of business climates and applications. Another essential determinant is whether the software is open source or proprietary, as this trait will significantly impact both cost and user capability. Data import and exportation, and flexibility of reporting are also important considerations of a product’s capabilities.

Maintenance and Technical Support

Although the bulk of the hardware supporting an on-demand, hosted CRM product is operated and maintained remotely, it is still essential to gauge how effectively a CRM solution can be utilized on-site. Ease of use and technical support costs should all be considered before purchasing a CRM. Companies should determine what support measures come with the product, as well as how much training employees and IT staff will need to operate and maintain a CRM solution.
 

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