Customer Relationship Management software is designed to track customer information and assist with marketing and sales life cycles, providing insights to generate new initiatives and leads.
Typical features include customer data tracking, sales workflow, follow up handling, marketing campaign generation, and data analytics.
A Functional Dilemma
All businesses need a contact management tool, and usually a CRM solution is a good way of tracking contact information, but is it enough? Most modern applications are flexible and allow customizations, built for a broad range of companies including those with specific needs. But is it always the solution for your small business?
Here are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider.
1. Your Contacts Are Not Just Customers
If for you the "C" in CRM doesn't stand for "Customers" but instead for "Contacts", you may already feel uneasy with the software name. We hear you: Customer Relationship Management concepts are fundamentally sales oriented. The problem with this approach is that, inherently, it limits the range and reach of the tool by restricting its essential purpose.
We believe "Customer" is a much more limiting concept than "Contact".
2. Your Contacts Are Deeply Involved In Your Business Processes
You may deal with customers, vendors, and you may also be running marketing campaigns. Maybe you need to track information for other purposes. A software company will benefit from registering what version they plan to deliver to their customers, and also what type of files are shipped. This is a very simple example, yet as you may have guessed, it can pose a problem that would require a potentially heavy customization to a CRM, and likely some integrations with external tools as well.
Most of the business processes in your organization involve people represented by contacts one way or another, and it is ideal to have them mapped into a proper, cross-related information system.
An off-the-shelf CRM cannot do all of this on its own, and will not scale when your company expands its activities.
Here are ideas for how to circumvent these issues.
1. Integration with other tools
This option is widely adopted by businesses of all sizes. If you're lucky enough, your core business processes are standard and the out-of-the-box solution on the market can address all of them. e.g. Contract Management software for Contracts life cycle, CMS like Joomla for website and front-end management, CRM for sales/marketing, any ERP for human resources and payroll and just to complete the list a fleet dispatcher to manage your trucks and deliveries.
If these software tools can integrate with one another, this is a win-win situation for your business, as you benefit from each vendor's expertise in their own field, while your data becomes globally accessible for reporting and other analytics dashboards.
When your activity is too specific, this won't be enough. You may need either an additional tool, or one of your existing tools to be adjusted to match your business needs.
2. Modification of the Existing Software
If your activity and your operations are mature enough, you may already know what features you're missing in your toolkit. If you already have a CRM or ERP in place, you may have already talked to your vendor to see whether they can add modules to it, or maybe customize it to fit better with your activity. They usually provide consulting services and will try to do as much as they can to keep you as a customer.
But while in some cases it is the right thing to do, there is a trick. If the CRM is by essence not fitting with your activity, there's no amount of flexibility nor customization that will address the issue. All that it will do is to make it closer to the goal, but to never reach it. Your employees will get frustrated over time, and they'll eventually start using the CRM less than they should, quickly resulting into a tangible productivity loss.
It is very important to identify this situation to avoid the dramatic waste of time and money it conveys. A good way of identifying it is to spend a bit of time brainstorming about what would be the best answer to your activity's challenges if you could obtain anything you wanted. After you've got the first ideas, start comparing them to your current tool(s) and evaluate the spread between both. If it does not look too bad, then you should talk to your vendor to see if they can embed some changes you'd like to see. On the other hand, if there's a conceptual difference, or another wide discrepancy between what you actually expect and what you currently have at your disposal, then you might be better off getting a brand new piece of software tailored from scratch.
3. Developing a Custom Software
Software Companies are specialized in creating bespoke/custom solutions making sure your information system is mapping your business processes accurately. Because they start from scratch, they can integrate their products with your existing solutions, while importing any existing data if necessary.
While it sounds appealing, there are - as always - known potential problems to take into consideration:
- Making a custom software is usually expensive. This is due to the fact that it involves highly qualified manpower, generally during an extended period of time.
- Building a solution from scratch can take a long time. Small businesses often need the software within a few weeks (or less) and therefore cannot afford waiting for so long.
- Change Orders Management may reaveal to be a disaster. To avoid the situation where your activity has changed but your tools are stuck months or years behind, you have to make sure the software is maintainable so changes are easy and quick to implement. This will make sure additions or transformations in your business processes can be propagated to the application seamlessly, and in a timely fashion.
CloudEasy has designed its software engineering process and business model based on these observations, making custom software development more accessible for businesses.
We circled all aspects of the problem and addressed them as follows:
- Lower Prices: our initial investment in an innovative technology allows us to reduce the production costs. As a result, we are up to 50% more affordable than the industry standard in North America. Additionally, our customers don't have to worry about IT infrastructure nor the IT resources to manage it as we take charge of it.
- Quicker Deliveries: we ship applications directly to the Cloud in a matter of minutes, with no installation time required on your end. Again, our innovative technology allows for a higher productivity, giving you the opportunity to enjoy your applications faster than the market average.
- Seamless Change Orders: because every aspect of our applications is designed in a modular fashion and integrated into a design center, we have full control over both the interfaces and the business models, and how they interact with one another. Changes are swift, and deliveries to production can happen as fast as 48 hours for minor changes if required.
If you think you need a custom software tailored to your activity, we can help. Tell us a bit about your challenges, and we'll reach out to you to give you some insights and ideas about how you can work them out.