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Five Steps to Choosing a CRM Solution
Assess your company's current and future needs to determine your best option.
Posted Jan 31, 2014
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In a world powered by 24/7 mobile access, a cutting-edge CRM solution is key to ensuring the smooth operation of any organization. However, to deliver on its promise, a CRM platform needs to closely reflect the type and needs of the business using it. Options are plentiful and companies are faced with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choosing a vendor. Organize your decision-making process around the tips below to make an informed decision about your new mobile CRM platform or, alternatively, to assess the performance of the system already in use.

1. Determining your company's requirements is your top priority. Which departments need a CRM platform and how many users are there likely to be? For companies intending to use their CRM solution primarily as a sales tool, a simple out-of-the-box deployment accessible only by sales, marketing, and customer service will likely be more than adequate. However, if it is probable that you will require extensibility to other business units, check with potential vendors whether such options are available. Another area to investigate is the possibility of integrating the software with applications already in place (e.g., your email client or accounts software). An investment bank, for example, is likely to need a complex, tailor-made solution with customized forms and connectivity between various external systems; a small family business does not require such complexity and the associated costs.

2. How the system is going to be deployed and used will have a direct impact on the next question: Do you want a cloud or an on-premises solution? An on-premises solution might be a good option for companies concerned with data security (e.g., law firms) or for those willing to pay more upfront to avoid greater total cost of ownership later. However, a start-up with a small budget might opt for a cloud-based solution, as the initial cost is much lower. If a company is likely to evolve and require changing functionalities, making adjustments is easier in the cloud than with an on-premises option, but at the same time, a cloud solution offers reduced capacity for integration with other systems. A careful and contextualized analysis of the pros and cons of both is necessary to make the right choice.

3. After assessing how the needs of a business should be affected by its CRM system, it is worthwhile to estimate the expected number

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