CRM Today: Build-your-own or buy Off-the-Shelf?
I must admit that in 2018, I feel a bit surprised that I am still writing about the choice between a bespoke or custom developed solution and the benefits of off-the-shelf CRM software. But for many companies with some technical software expertise, they have seen the choice as more complex than just choosing between different pedigree systems. If there is technical resource internally or often available locally, then you may consider your choice as being between:
- Build your own CRM
- Off-the-shelf CRM
“Build your Own” …Before you start
This option has in recent years become less of a factor as Cloud-based, subscription Customer Relationship Management systems have brought the initial up-front licence costs down significantly. This was often a key reason for reviewing this choice and the benefits of cloud have also moved the choice of implementing CRM from a Capex (capital expenditure) decision to more of an Opex (i.e. operating costs per month) financial and budgeting decision.
But for some organisations, this can still be seen as a relevant choice where they may have strong connections with external partners or more likely where there is a high degree of internal software development expertise. Other clients may feel that their needs are so unique that a custom solution has to be developed.
However, whilst this may seem initially to be a good solution and may be seen as cost-effective since you own both the IP and the software, you do need to be aware of some of the pitfalls that in 20 years in CRM I have frequently come across when clients make this decision, or more relevantly after they have made it.
At first sight, a straightforward comparison between developing your own and the cost of the off-the-shelf licences and services may be easy to calculate. But, first, take some time when you compare these costs against your own developed solution to review and estimate the Total Cost and commitment.
Whilst the comparison at first glance may appear more cost-effective, say over a three or four year time frame for Build your Own, if you have the relevant skill-sets. But you do still need to undertake some extra care and due diligence and look below the iceberg surface at the other, sometimes hidden costs including:-
- Management and Project Management time: This can often be the biggest consumer of time and effort, not to mention stress.
Understand the true cost of focusing on non-core activity. Even if you are a software development house, ideally you want your highly skilled and expensive developers working on fee able activity.
- Linking to MS Outlook: One of the most common issues encountered when replacing internally developed or bespoke systems is there is no link to email or it has not worked or been updated, so you may be back to having islands of information. Other Office 365 links. Users expect integration with MS Word, Excel as standard.
- ERP systems integration: You may have to develop your own links and then support these, for example to your ERP or Finance software.
- Hardware costs: Even if Cloud services are now preferred, there is still a hosting subscription cost and commitment here.
- Marketing Integration: These applications are almost always off-the-shelf solutions, after all, who wants to recreate an email marketing tool when you have MailChimp, ConstantContact and many others already available? Unless there is integration in place, this will lead to yet another island of information outside the bespoke CRM.\
- Staff costs and morale: Working on an internal project can a take up a lot of time and effort and be wearing on the developers and the project team, since often there is no clear documentation or specification plan and whilst this can be seen as a somewhat Agile approach, the project can continue longer than anticipated.
- Upgrades: Once the system is rolled out, everyone breathes a sigh of relief, but then a new requirement appears. A good example in the last few years is the advent of Social Media and how this is now included within most CRM systems. This development was driven by competitive activity and market requirements. Bespoke systems may struggle to keep up with new and evolving needs.
- Planning and documentation: Again, as above, it is rare indeed for a system to be fully and thoroughly documented. Time is usually focused on a core brief and then ‘getting on with it’. Projects are often seen as smaller tactical solutions to begin with, but can then acquire a life of their own as more features/functions are asked for.
- Competency: With over 300 systems or more now to choose from according to just one leading software review site, most organisations competency is in their main business and not in developing a CRM system. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, and the unseen management and other costs mentioned above can all take away from the central competency of the business.And finally let’s not forget…
- Mobile: Every major CRM vendor provides a mobile capability for their system. We live in an increasingly smartphone age so your system will need to have mobile capability. This involves even more development work and testing, but without this option, you will find sales buy-in and adoption can be especially tough.
When added together these visible and hidden costs should be estimated and compared against the somewhat clearer costs of purchasing an off-the-shelf system, professionally implemented and configured.
I would argue that these actual hidden costs, often not fully allocated or estimates at the outset can end up being a lot more than first envisaged.
And after you started the project
Whenever a prospective client says they are going down the bespoke route, in my own system, I never see this as a Lost Opportunity, just merely delayed. Within less than two years, I find that in many instances, bespoke development clients become very receptive to my calls and we will start talking again in earnest about off-the-shelf solutions with some of the more common project experiences being:-
- Escalation of costs: ‘Mission creep’ happens and costs started to increase against the original estimate and plan.
- Never quite fully rolled out: Again, ‘Mission creep’, more functionality, like Mobile, for instance, is deemed as needed for full buy-in.
- Sales and Marketing team enthusiasm wanes: There may still have to use systems outside of the development or they start to compare against off-the-shelf systems, already available with the richer functionality they require.
- Developers needed elsewhere: A common reason is where there is a reallocation of resource to an important client project, so the project is delayed or shelved or only partially rolled out.
- Need to constantly develop the system: If internally developed, extra requests can continually come in, leading to User frustration and disengagement.
- New people arrive: And review and demand a full solution with rich functionality and inter-connectivity ‘like we used previously’.
- Poor project management and the system plan overruns.
- “It never did fully meet requirements.”
- Issues with the supplier(s): This is probably one of the biggest reasons and can be split down into:-
– Personal issues: A falling out as a developer could be family or friend (especially relevant in smaller SME type projects).
– Specification issues. These were never fully met, leading to a communication break-down.
– Size of Project and Company. Smaller developers are often keen to win the business and may price attractively, but they may underestimate or not have full resources needed.
– Supplier loses interest or disappears. So many items are never completed.
– Supplier costs escalated. This relates to the two points above.
- Lack of Automation. Processes were too task intensive, automation is frequently not built-in or requested until later, adding to this sense of ‘Mission Creep’ or cost escalation or both!
All of the above are reasons that I have come across where clients have then come back to an off-the-shelf solution after some painful experiences, you may have more examples!
Why Off-the-Shelf works
When comparing with an off-the-shelf solution, the key difference is that here all your costs are visible, unlike the iceberg approach of build-your-own, where good estimating and project skills together with judgement are needed in forecasting costs over say a 3 or 4 year time-frame.
Like the Iceberg in the picture above, build-your-own can have many unseen and unexpected costs, not always easily estimated and sometimes as the examples I have given of ‘After’ the project started the show, many of the most costly issues appear only after the project has commenced.
So, in spite of the first sight cost-benefit felt by some companies, I would argue that with today’s cloud-based software subscription model, with ever increasing functionality coming from leading market players such as Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 suite and SalesForce Lightning platform, you need to be brave indeed to consider a build-your-own as your solution, however, big or however much resource you may have available at this moment.
The big players are investing heavily in R & D and in acquiring companies that can augment their own offering. This level of spending is unprecedented and in just the last 2 years alone, just Microsoft and Salesforce have approaching £40 billion on acquisitions aimed at evolving their capabilities.
CRM today is a very different beast from just 5 years ago and these companies now offer so much more than just traditional offering with most of these advances coming in the last five years as the opportunities offered by cloud computing have been developed.
Leading players like Microsoft and Salesforce are keen to augment and fill in any perceived functionality gaps and are rapidly moving towards offering the complete CRM-ERP integrated suite. Both these and many other systems have strong eco-systems of powerful third-party add-on apps used to fill niche gaps and which are fully supported.
When all this rich functionality is taken into account and the fact that as cloud-based systems, for instance, Salesforce release three updates per year, whilst Dynamics 365release two major updates a year, this in my view becomes a very strong proposition, unlikely to ever be matched by any internally developed offering.
So, the question I posed at the start of this post is still relevant and it is this:-
“Why would a new to CRM client, even with their own software development expertise, really try to build your own in 2018”?
My view is that there are just too many pitfalls to catch the unwary, too many sometimes ‘hidden’ cost just like the iceberg!
The key to success is for clients to focus on their own core competencies and to take advantage of the massive investment in CRM by the Big Vendors and the almost boundless opportunities now offered by the cloud business application model.
Building your own as a choice in 2018 should only be for the brave!
If you are considering off-the-shelf or developing and building your own system, as a first step before you commit, we recommend talking to us. You may find this a refreshing experience as we can take a CRM independent viewpoint of the market leaders and do not have to just offer you one vendor. We can even undertake Fit-Gap Analysis to help you make your selection choice and support your own due diligence.
Published by Gary Perkins, Business Development Manager at SeeLogic
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8 Steps to Make Your CRM Project a Success
As CRM specialist, we have seen this technology’s evolution over the years fro...read more
8 Steps to Make Your CRM Project a Success
As CRM specialist, we have seen this technology’s evolution over the years from just being a sales tool – to now helping marketing and customer service departments coordinate inter-departmental actions – so they dramatically improve their operations and offerings. However, we believe the key to experiencing successful outcomes is creating a strategy and plan – well before a new CRM system is implemented. What this means is you must first gain a thorough understanding of how CRM technology will best meet your strategic business objectives, and support specific and unique processes.
With over 700+ CRM implementations under our belt, we highlight 8 steps so you experience a successful outcome too.
1. Develop a strong CRM vision
To understand the businesses’ aspirations for a new CRM system, you must establish why it’s required and what the expected success will actually look like – before determining how key success metrics will be measured. For example, key aims may include generating a total view of each client relationship, increasing lead generation, improving quality of management information reporting and improving account retention and service delivery. However, avoid tackling all CRM goals in a single implementation – but seek a phased approach that focuses on quick wins first.
Once you have achieved this insight, a list of business requirements should be generated, then prioritised and reviewed against the capabilities of the different CRM products – to determine the best fit. Key areas to be examined amongst the usual selection criteria should include license costs and long-term cost of ownership.
2. Map existing business processes
Whilst it’s important to understand the pain points in business processes that can be fixed by CRM – it’s also important to appreciate how your employees have to use CRM software as well as how they want to use it. The big mistake is seeking a new CRM tool with features that some employees may never touch – which actually makes key tasks more difficult or complex. Insight must be gained about what tools your team are currently using and what processes they follow, the most common tasks undertaken – and then establish how those tasks map to the new CRM software.
To help the evaluation, seek advice from users who understand these day-to-day issues – so engage frontline salespeople and managers – as well as IT managers too. This process also presents a superb opportunity to gain clarity on how well processes are currently working and will identify how CRM can improve their efficiency – often by removing duplication of effort and applying greater process automation.
Having defined a success criteria for CRM, your targets should be specific and measurable. Therefore, think about the information that CRM will need to track – specific to each of these goals and what reports, charts and dashboards will be required to measure progress.
3. Capture CRM data
To achieve organisational goals, the fields required to track on each CRM record must be considered. For example, if taking a phased approach by leading with an initial CRM sales team deployment – establish what fields will need to be tracked on records for accounts, contacts, opportunities and leads. This could be the options that will appear in drop-down fields, and which fields should be set as mandatory to ensure consistent data quality. It can be tempting to go overboard but an excessive number of fields may prove a barrier to early user adoption and will add to the administration overhead.
4. Prepare data
Often underestimated are the resources required to consolidate and prepare existing data for migration to a new CRM system. To ensure organisational readiness, ensure that these are answered:
- What data needs to be imported into CRM?
- Where is it currently stored?
- How good is the data quality?
- Does it need cleansing?
- How far back to go with relationship history data?
- What duplicate matching rules must be set?
5. Integrate CRM
Establish which applications will CRM need to integrate with and what direction the data will flow. If your goal is to create a single view of each relationship, integrating CRM with an external data source is likely to be a high priority. As well as feeding data from other applications, CRM will also push data to other sources. This could include creating a new order in the back-office ERP system – when a CRM sales opportunity is converted. Other CRM integrations may include email marketing, web forms, Sharepoint and eCommerce platforms.
6. Manage user security
Consider how CRM will be shared across a business. A list should be complied of users, roles and groups that will have CRM permissions and definition of what level of access they should get. Flexible CRM solutions like Microsoft Dynamics CRM enable advanced user permissions which can include team and territory management to precisely control which records users are entitled to access and what controls they can use.
7. Highlight potential risks
Identify the main project hazards and make an assessment of how these could threaten the overall project’s success. For example, the CRM technology could be a risk if the database isn’t flexible enough to adapt to processes, or if the system lacks the scalability to grow with the business. The supporting processes represent a risk if these are poorly defined, or if existing gaps aren’t identified.
8. Create a user adoption plan
The biggest risk to CRM success is low user adoption. In our experience, successful CRM projects always meet the requirements of its users – so engage with them at an early stage to consult for ideas and stimulate interest. Failure to listen to users’ needs and build support from the ground up can result in challenging user adoption barriers. Here are 4 key points to consider when developing an effective user adoption strategy:
- Ensure users know why a CRM system is being implemented
- Listen to user ideas, requirements and concerns
- Deliver ongoing user training and support
- Measure usage that focuses on positive reinforcement
With more than a decade of experience in CRM technology implementations and as Gold CRM partners of leading CRM providers Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce, we can offer the best advice to help make your CRM project a success. You can call us at 01296 328 689 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Overview of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service — October 2018 Release
As part of our Dynamics 356 October 2018 updates series, we have published 10 Best Picks from Dynamics 365 and Dynamics 365 for Sales in our previous posts. In this blog, we’ll now look at what new capabilities Microsoft is bringing in the for Dynamics 365 for customer service app.
The new service scheduling solution is built on Universal Resource Scheduling (URS) in Dynamics 365 for Project Automation and Field Service. It allows the customer service team to view and schedule resources to service activities by considering the availability of employees, facilities, and equipment.
The URS functionality includes a Schedule Board that allows users to Filter View, Resource search, Resource sorting, and hours/day/week/month view of service activities.
Customer Service Admin Settings
In the October 2018 release, Service Management will move into the Customer Service Hub and will be accessible through the sitemap.
Using the Unified Interface, Customer Service managers will have the ability to configure and manage customer service tasks such as configuring public or private queues, setting up parent-child case settings, configuring routing rules, configuring automatic record creation and update rules, and setting up service level agreements (SLAs), along with other capabilities.
Suggest Similar Cases
With the use of Microsoft Text Analytics APIs and case information across various entity records, Similar Cases will be able to help customer service representatives find appropriate answers while reducing average handling time.
A new Similar Cases grid, which is expected to be added in December 2018, will dynamically list completed cases that match characteristics and keywords from the latest case record. This new function will also be able to suggest contextual knowledge articles to customer service agents to help them resolve cases faster.
Relevance Search for knowledge management
For the first time, Relevance Search will now be made available in the Customer Service Hub. Knowledge base search will leverage the relevance search to deliver the most relevant knowledge articles and display only the necessary information in the results list allowing agents to find information faster.
The feature also searches notes and attachments of knowledge articles from within a case.
The points mentioned above are some of the major functional updates Microsoft are bringing to Dynamics for Customer Service starting this October. Stay tuned for more blog articles that will highlight the updates in other important Dynamics 365 apps.
If you would like to find out how you can take advantage of the latest Dynamics for Customer Service updates within your organisation, contact us today for a no obligation consultation on 01296 328 689.
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Could you benefit from a free CRM consultation?
• Are your employees reticent to use the CRM?
• Is your current CRM system slow and inefficient?
• Do you spend more time doing admin than following up on sales opportunities?
• Are you lagging behind with an outdated CRM solution but apprehensive about moving to the cloud?
If you have answered yes to any of these common CRM frustrations, SeeLogic can help. SeeLogic is offering a FREE CRM consultation from one of our expert consultants. Read more about SeeLogic here.
How to arrange your free CRM consultation ?
Email us – email@example.com
Or contact us online.
Below are some of the most frequent CRM frustrations we have come across together with how we can help alleviate these issues.
My employees resent or refuse to use our CRM system
This must be the most frequent issues we come across. If, used effectively, CRM can increase a company’s revenue and retention rates by between 10%-20% *source Aberdeen research
Therefore, ensuring your employees all use your chosen CRM system is vital to success.
Here are some of the barriers to user-adoption that we often come across:
Even with the best technology in the world, if users are told they must use the system and are left to get on with it, barriers can often immediately be put up. This is especially true of users who find new technologies intimidating and may have found comfort in knowing how to use their old system, even if it was over-convoluted or outdated.
Instead, a “carrot” approach that assesses and manages the impact of change on the different user groups is often far more successful. Getting users’ buy-in requires taking them on a journey by understanding their current points of pain, listening to their needs and introducing the relevant areas and benefits of the new solution in relation to their role with lots of support thrown in.
Inadequate Change Management
SeeLogic can work with your organisation to develop a communication plan and change management strategy to ensure maximum user adoption within your company, including; staff surveys, contextual training, email campaigns, product previews, high quality in-context training and on-going support. To discuss this further, contact us to claim your free CRM consultation.
Presenting a user with a new system and providing generic ‘this button does this and this button does that’ training will immediately turn users off.
However, contextual, scenario-based training will help users understand how the new system will be used daily-to-day and the benefits to them in their role.
System is not aligned to business processes
E.g. Users are working around the system, rather than the system working for them. Users are often presented with too many fields; perhaps some unnecessary, and others not relevant at that stage of the process.
A detailed scoping exercise prior to the CRM implementation is crucial to successful user adoption. An expert consultant will challenge you as to whether you really need so many fields and tease out what information is required at each stage of the customer journey and for management reporting purposes. This way, when it comes to project go-live, users will not be bombarded to enter lots of unnecessary information but instead be guided to enter the right information at the right time. Furthermore, many CRM systems now offer machine learning to further prompt users as to what the next-best actions are.
We are lagging behind using on-premises CRM but are apprehensive about moving to the Cloud
If your company relies on an on-premises solution and is cautious about moving to the cloud, then you are not alone. In the past, CIOs were very concerned with security and complexity when it came to migrating data to cloud services. These fears have been abated with the continual improvement and development to cloud environments. In fact, the cloud is often a more secure environment than on-premises solutions.
Benefits of moving to the cloud
Overall, on premises environments are more susceptible to attacks than cloud hosted provision *source Alert Logic[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”image_icon” icon_image=”2095″]
Not having to pay to maintain or service on premise servers is very appealing. Typically, on- premises CRM systems cost 60% higher on an annual basis compared to their cloud based counterparts, starting after the first year!
Limited internal support to maintain hardware and software
With on-premises solutions, new versions of software require IT teams to test and install the upgrades and sometimes hardware and server software to be upgraded to meet minimum system requirements. However, moving your CRM data to the cloud will reduce the pressure on your internal IT team as there is no hardware to support and maintain.[/text-with-icon][text-with-icon icon_type=”image_icon” icon_image=”2096″]
Mobile access to your CRM system, anytime, anywhere. Using your free CRM consultation, an independent consultant like SeeLogic can help you make the best decision for your business by assessing your requirements and making recommendations based on specific business needs.
My current CRM software is clunky, slow and painful to upgrade
This issue is very common; many of our clients have come to us with an over- customised CRM. This causes inherent issues such as; upgrades causing things to error and integrations to break, being stuck on an outdated version of software efficiently. This then leads to employees not wanting to use it and users finding it difficult to retrieve data. CRM is meant to increase efficiency within your workplace, however if over customised, or not aligned to business processes it can do quite the opposite.
With so much functionality available at your fingertips with today’s modern CRM solutions, there should be very little reason to customise a CRM. SeeLogic operates a “configure-first” approach by advising organisations how they can best align both business processes and technology in order to gain maximum benefit from their CRM investments whilst keeping total cost of ownership low.
At SeeLogic we offer a range of services to ensure the CRM projects we manage suit your business needs, not over complicate things. Business process mapping, Digital transformation and high-quality training will support a successful implementation and increase user adoption.
Founded in 2004, SeeLogic has built up an impressive client-base, including well-known international and global brands. In this time, we have successfully implemented 100’s of CRM projects, which include global, multi-site CRM roll-outs and complex integration projects.
With offices in both the UK and Nepal, SeeLogic can provide around the clock support as well as accelerated delivery times where required. SeeLogic also has eleven Centres of Excellence focused on the ever-expanding components of CRM and related technologies.
For a limited time offer we are offering a free and no obligation consultation with one of our senior consultants. They will listen to your CRM issues and provide you with tailored recommendations to take you from CRM frustration to CRM-led business transformation. You are not obligated to choose SeeLogic to deliver the recommendations, although we do hope you will choose us to help transform and develop your business.
Reasons for working with SeeLogic
- We are product agnostic and select the right solution for your business needs
- We provide an end-to-end service including process mapping, implementation and ongoing support
- SeeLogic understand user-adoption is the main challenge of any project roll out and have many tools to help your make the most of your system
- We are proud partners of software providers and other IT businesses, meaning we have a large resource and intelligence network to draw from
- Support teams in UK and Nepal for follow-the-sun support
- Combined CRM experience of over 20 years, our team is made up of CRM experts, not just salespeople
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Best CRM Software Consultants 2016
SeeLogic has won Best CRM Software Consultants 2016 – Buckinghamshire. Corporate Vision magazine voted for the accolade due to their annual Technology Innovators awards.
About the awards…
Corporate Vision are dedicated to working around the clock to shine a spotlight on the brightest, best performing and most deserving companies from around the business world. Furthermore, a network of respected industry partners decide winners by a combination of votes. While the Corporate Vision own rigorous in-house research team analyse results. Finally, this is all performed by their dedicated network of industry insiders and corporate specialists.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Each award is carefully scrutinised, from a nominee’s region to their performance over the past 12 months. This follows days of careful review of their commitment to innovation, their methods and even their competition.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]SeeLogic is delighted to be recognised for expert CRM consultancy and commitment to innovation in technology as a result.