Solving the MultiNational Corporate Dilemma: Deploying and Maintaining an In-House Small business CRM software system at an Affordable Price
How can you effectively store corporate data in a place that's easily accessible from all departments in your small business? This is a question which many small businesses ask themselves every year, with another variable in the back of their mind: budget. Multinational enterprises store hundreds of thousands of unique records every month, which are input from a variety of geographic locations, using a variety of front-end systems. All this data has to go somewhere - the trick is making sure its someplace that everyone who might need to access it, can.
Your regional office in mainland China may have its own local intranet to store customer records on, but what happens if your European office needs access to it? Paper files once again become a reality as emails, faxes and telephone calls are exchanged, couriers are paid and valuable time is wasted. In today's world, customers expect you to have the information they need, when they request it. On demand is not simply a catch phrase; it's a reality to any small business who wants to be successful in today's marketplace. So, what can you do? Where can you go? And most importantly, how much will it really cost you?
Finding out what your real small business CRM requirements are, versus imagined ones is sometimes a tricky process. In order to get the real requirements for your small business CRM implementation, you're going to need to take a look at many existing small business processes in every department of your small business, as well as have a forward-thinking outlook on what you're trying to accomplish years down the road from now with the data that you're centralizing. If you're operating multiple offices, think about the geographic spread you're trying to gap and infrastructure present at all your locations. Technology and IT Personnel requirements are typically steep for a multi-office implementation. Other requirements that you will want to have defined before your vendor selection process include:
What existing front-end
systems each department is
How many of these systems
needs to be able to integrate
with one another (ie: your
Shipping system integrating
with your Customer Service
Contact Center system)
Which departments will
need access to a new front-end
system versus which ones will
be replaced with the new small
business CRM initiative
How many concurrent users
will be accessing the system,
and from how many different
at each site to maintain the
necessary infrastructure (if
Training, support, customization,
consulting and any other additional
charges over and above the
vendor's licensing arrangement
Once you have the answers to these key questions, and any other small business specific ones you've already outlined, the next step to take would be in defining what type of small business CRM software solution best suits your scenario and solves all your business process needs. Sometimes this process is easier said than done, as the small business CRM space can be rather saturated depending on what your needs are. Keep in mind that there are various avenues with which to research and pursue - is it best to go with a large, highly customizable and integratable high-end small business CRM software system? Or are you more in tune with a small-scale deployment? Do you need something that's industry specific, or generic? What are your budgetary restraints? All these questions and more will help you select a proper vendor in overcoming your small business CRM Dilemma.
The Small business CRM Dilemma
Currently juggling multiple existing legacy data warehousing systems that are supporting dozens of front-end systems, you're tasked with migrating all of your existing data to a central repository, and consolidating the front-end systems as much as possible to work through this central repository. What's better, you have a budget of under $100,000. The obvious and easiest way out of this scenario is by switching to an On demand hosted CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) / web-based SFA (Sales Force Automation) / Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP Software) to centrally house all your data at a low cost.
Simply migrate all effected employees over to the new system as applicable, or setup integration points where the legacy front-end systems will communicate properly with the on demand hosted CRM software solution. This minimizes up front costs and allows you to get your entire organization on the same page, even if it's just as a stop-gap measure. But corporate regulations dictate that you're unable to store customer data on a third party server, due to its sensitive nature. It fits the rest of your criteria - low cost, reliable, infinitely scalable, easily accessible, and able to integrate with just about any third party front-end system, but the directive issued from management dictates that customer data may only be stored on internal systems. This can occur for many reasons - typically it is either due to industry-specific norms (financial industry and insurance industry, for example, have much stricter regulations on data security than most others) or possibly due to local by-laws or statutes. Typically, if the reason is industry-specific, then your small business likely already has a team of data security experts on hand to assist you in your vendor selection process. This can be an invaluable resource in assisting you to find the right small business CRM software solution that meets all the data security requirements laid out for you. Once you have identified the primary challenges necessary in overcoming your small business CRM implementation, it is time to move on to vendor selection.
Choosing a proper vendor is perhaps the most important part of the small business CRM initiative. You need a vendor whose product isn't solely going to provide a 'band aid' for the situation - you need something that's scalable for the foreseeable future in terms of small business growth. Make sure you're very forward thinking in terms of needs requirements, and don't let a small business CRM vendor sell you on something that you're not completely sure of. Once this has been established, there are many vendors from whom to choose from. Below are a few:
/ PeopleSoft / Oracle / SAP
- These four have
been industry leaders in software
based business CRM for some
time. They offer a very competitive
product, and with the recent
releases from all vendors,
they have a robust product
offering which can integrate
with most other software solutions.
However, be aware that the
price tag for a Siebel implementation
can be quite hefty. A Gartner
Group report has suggested
that the Total Cost of Ownership
(TCO) for a Siebel Systems
software based implementation
for 150 concurrent users can
reach over 1.5 million US
dollars. This type of price
tag is rather expensive, but
for the right company, can
make a great fit. The other
three vendors are on par with
the same price ranges.
Maximizer / ACT!
/Goldmine - These
are the three major small
business CRM software providers.
Most of these products lack
important functionality, and
aren't scalable to a larger
enterprise. However, it does
have a better price tag associated
with it than typical enterprise
based small business CRM software systems.
Watch out for customization
and consultant fees, as well.
These are fine solutions for
a smaller company, but leave
very little room for continued
business CRM Appliance -
Salesboom's Small business
CRM Appliance is a great multi-use
small business CRM server.
Bundling the Salesboom small
business CRM software system
onto a fully loaded and ready
to use out-of-the-box server,
the Salesboom small business
CRM software system can be
used on local intranet's as
well as deployed via a corporate
web site login portal. The
Salesboom Small business CRM
Appliance is infinitely customizable,
and offers a complete ownership
price tag of about $10,000
USD for 100 users. Far below
industry average for comparable
enterprise based systems,
and even cheaper than the
smaller software based systems
such as Goldmine, the Salesboom
Small business CRM Appliance
makes perfect sense for the
small business with a budget,
as well as the full-size multi-national
enterprise who is looking
for something with less up front
risk of capital than a traditional
enterprise based small business
There are a few other factors in which to keep in mind. Note that the price that your vendor quotes you is not the actual Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The price quoted is simply for the software licenses, or in the case of the Salesboom small business CRM Appliance, the software licenses plus hardware necessary to run them. This will not include prices for training, support, future upgrades, IT personnel, customizations or consultant staff provided by, or recommended by, the software provider. These typically 'invisible' costs are ones which you will need to take into account when calculating your small business CRM budget, as they aren't discussed in depth by most small business CRM software providers until after you've committed to buying the licenses.
Scalability is also a big issue. Nobody wants to spend $10,000 or more dollars on a small business CRM software system which is only going to last the company a year before needing to purchase more licenses, upgrade infrastructure, or switch to a different version of the software. Make sure that your small business CRM software system is going to work for you well into the future, so that you don't have to come back to the drawing board again in twelve months looking for another solution to a problem that should have been solved the first time around.
Lastly, always remember that small business CRM is 90% corporate initiative, 10% technology. Make sure that everyone in your small business is on board before launching a CRM project. CRM is more about increasing customer retention and better managing your customer relationships through improved customer service than it is analytics and efficiency through technology. While all play their roles in helping to make your company more streamlined and efficient, make sure that improving your customer relationships is a priority goal for everyone - from the CEO, through the board of directors, and down to the front line Customer Service Representative answer the phones for you.
Implementing a software based small business CRM project can be costly, and time-consuming. Doing all of your research before hand on your own individual needs as well as vendor issues will definitely benefit your small business in the long run and help prevent wasted time and capital. The type of solution which best suites your small business will largely depend on the objectives of your small business CRM project - for a large scale project without a limited budget, a good hard look at an offering from Siebel Systems or SAP may be worth its while. But the Salesboom small business CRM Appliance offers a fully robust small business CRM software system, with limitless customization and integration potential, for a very affordable price. It can be easily used in conjunction with the Salesboom on demand hosted CRM service as well, for help in managing offices abroad. And best of all, the price tag, starting at under $10,000 US Dollars, is manageable even for the smallest of businesses.
In the end, however, it will largely depend on your own needs and research to determine which vendor is best suited for your small business. Don't get discouraged - a proper small business CRM implementation for an small business of your size can take months, even years to put together and fully implement. But keep on task, and put each vendor through the paces - once your small business CRM software system is up and running and you're seeing positive Return on Investment (ROI) in the triple digits, you'll know your time and effort wasn't in vain.
It is our position that the time has finally arrived for small business to cash in on the software industry's promise of applications that are useful, aggressively priced, and accessible 24/7 from anywhere there's an Internet connection.
Word Document: Calculating Return on Investment
About Salesboom.com Salesboom.com is an On demand hosted CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) and web-based SFA (Sales Force Automation) software service provider that offers small business the opportunity to tap into a technology that is reserved for large corporations. Salesboom.com is a web based service that meets the budgetary needs of most companies while delivering valuable small business online web based CRM software / web-based SFA services, helping corporations compete head-on with larger competition employing traditional CRM software solutions. Salesboom.com's editions also include File and Web based Document Management , Campaign Management, Marketing Automation and Reporting components.
Once you truly gain full visibility into your company's business processes, you'll never want to go back to the dark again. We guarantee it. Take a Free CRM Software 30-day Trial today, or contact us directly for more information: 1.855.229.2043 (1.855.229.2043) or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.