What does the mid-market look for in CRM?
Posted Apr 15, 2002
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Successful solutions for mid-market companies must be broad, integrated and tailorable to meet their needs. In essence, they satisfy three general requirements: 1) they have a lower long-term cost of ownership, 2) possess flexibility to leverage existing investments while being able to accommodate future software implementations and 3) must be implemented quickly to deliver value within a short time before purchasing. Analysts will tell you that mid-market companies basically want easier system maintenance, rapid implementation programs for faster ROI, simpler application implementation and lower price. To achieve the first goal, the applications being implemented must have features that fit the company's business processes correctly. This "just right" functionality includes just what the customer's business requires. Many implementations have incurred high short-term and long-term costs implementing and maintaining unnecessary functions. In many cases, companies have to deactivate modules that are superfluous to their operations in order to cut down on excessive capital costs. Mid-market companies looking to blend the line between back and front office need CRM, ERP and Supply Chain applications pre-integrated out of the box. While larger enterprises may have the budgets for extensive customization, mid-market companies often do not. Flexibility is related to the first goal of lower long-term total cost of ownership. In today's sluggish economy, companies are placing greater emphasis on leveraging their existing investments. This is especially true in the mid-market. With tighter budgets and a weariness of highly-publicized implementation failures, mid-market companies are less likely to rip-and-replace, or perform massive overhauls on their infrastructure. Therefore, mid-market customers are more inclined to buy software that can enhance existing applications. For example, self-service applications can augment your existing CRM modules simply and at a low cost, allowing customer service agents to concentrate on more complex tasks. Additionally, with technological innovation and business process changes inevitable, scalable solutions that can be easily reconfigured to incorporate these innovations are extremely valuable to the mid-market. Like their larger counterparts, mid-market customers can ill-afford to look at their CRM implementations as a one-time investment; CRM projects need room to grow. Lastly, aside from avoiding high implementation costs, mid-market enterprises need to see a return on their investment as soon as possible. Short (6-month) implementation cycles that slowly phase in a few modules at a time allow a company to begin benefiting from their purchase before the full implementation is completed. The short cycles also guard against an implementation getting out of hand as each component is tested thoroughly before the vendor moves onto the next phase of implementation. Mid-market companies also need their software vendors to be partners that will provide consulting services and expertise every step of the way from implementation to go-live to ongoing maintenance of solutions. Ongoing consulting ensures that implementation problems get solved quickly, staying on schedule to get the purchased solutions up and running.
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