Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Seven SaaS Myths

What does Software as a Service (SaaS) (Hosted CRM) such as really cost?

Hosted CRM vendors often claim the are less expensive than traditional "on premise" CRM systems. But is this really true? has used an iceberg analogy to "expose" what they claim are the hidden costs of traditional deployed CRM.

However, are they just as guilty of the same thing? It is my experience that they are. Here are some thoughts on the subject for you to consider.

7 key things that hosted or On Demand (SaaS) CRM systems won't tell you:

1. Your cost over time may be much higher because the benefits from not having to install software are soon outweighed by the on-going costs of a subscription.

2. We have not been as customizable as "on premise" CRM. But now that we are closing that gap and allowing customization, the associated costs are the same or even higher that on premise. Sadly we are still not as flexible.

3. Other items such a as development environment or a test environment will cost you extra. A lot extra. (These are typically free with "on premise" CRM)

4. The integration costs of Software as a Service may be higher because it is more difficult to link and move data from your systems to ours because it has to cross the internet.

5. The downside of our web application is that access isn't always available. Outages have occurred. Combine this with the extra clicks your sales reps need to make to enter data and the result may be a decrease in productivity, data captured and user acceptance.

6. No IT!

A frequent claim made by SaaS CRM organizations is that your IT does not need to be involved. This is true in the sense that you won’t need to buy and maintain servers to host the application on. However, the reality is once an environment is set up an in-house CRM system requires little effort. You might only need to set up a back up procedure. Also to optimize SaaS you will still need to maintain computers, routers and internet access. Lastly, if you want to integrate back end systems bringing valuable and actionable data to your sales team, you IT resources will need to be involved.

7. "Try us out for awhile. You can always switch to another CRM system if you don't like it."

What they are not telling you here is that the cost to switch CRM systems is very high. Consider that you will need to export and import data. You will need to rebuild customizations and tables and fields that are custom to your business. You will need to retrain your sales team. Lastly, you will need to either start a new subscription or buy licenses.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

CRM Success Checklist

Here is a list of CRM specific questions to ask yourself when deploying a new CRM system. Sales force automation (SFA, CRM) can benefit an organization in more ways then just providing your team with a solid contact manager.

CRM checklist

Which business issues are you looking to improve or change through CRM?
What kind of data do have already to put into the CRM system?
Where is that data now?
What new data if made available would improve the way you do business?
Who could benefit from access to that data?

Where do your people need access to CRM data?
In the office?
At home?
On the Road?
What technology are they using? Notebooks, Pocket PC’s, Blackberries etc.

What are unique aspects of the way you do business?
Which workflows & sales processes have the potential to be automated with CRM? How much time would that save? Hint: Think repetitive tasks, time consuming procedures or tasks that easily “slip through the cracks”.

Are there certain types of customers that are the most profitable and desirable?
What characteristics do they have?

Are you getting accurate forecast information?
Is gathering forecast information a time consuming task?

What are you IT capabilities?
Do you have servers and databases in house at the current time?

What back end systems including e-mail, accounting and other systems would you like to integrate with CRM?
What information needs to be integrated and by whom?

Are there any other departments that might benefit from a new CRM system?
Customer Service
Accounting/time and billing

Have you thought about other benefits that would now be possible such as CRM to phone system integration or web site integration?

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