Enterprises of all sizes like the low upfront costs, usability, flexibility, and time-to-value of CRM software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Solutions I see enjoying increasing popularity include salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and Oracle’s cloud CRM products: Oracle CRM On Demand and RightNow (now called Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service). The Sage CRM products for the medium-size organization market (Sage SalesLogix and Sage CRM) have been also retooled to include “on-demand” options and SugarCRM is also available in variety of on-demand deployment configurations.
There are many advantages to moving your CRM solution to “the cloud.” But follow these best practices to avoid the pitfalls that can trip you up:
Dig deep to understand total costs. Understanding the true cost of a SaaS solution is important. The cost elements are software license fees, internal labor implementation costs, professional services fees, and user training costs. Additional SaaS cost drivers include fees for extra features like mobile and offline access, industry-specific functionality, storage capacity beyond a preset limit, and premium help desk support.
Spotlight the risks. Vet your CRM vendor carefully to make sure it will be around for the long term, and be sure that you have contract provisions that protect your company if the vendor is acquired or goes out of business. Additional risks for SaaS solutions include loss of control, weaker integration, limited virtualization, and more restricted customization capabilities compared with on-premises solutions. Buyers also worry about physical and data security.
During the last five years, the customer relationship management (CRM) solutions market has experienced considerable growth and turmoil. Quickly evolving technologies like multichannel digital customer engagement, real-time decisioning, social computing, business process management (BPM), and mobility are creating new ways for organizations to deliver differentiated customer experiences. There has been a rapid rise in the popularity of solutions deployed through the cloud, and vendors have acquired direct competitors or snapped up companies in adjacent spaces to broaden their customer management offerings. As a result, business and IT leaders are often confused about which solution to choose.
I have just finished Forrester’s Wave™ evaluation of the leading CRM solutions. We evaluated 18 solutions against 411 criteria and will publish our findings in June. While every CRM solution has its strengths and weaknesses, here are the key questions you need to ask to pin down the right solution:
1. Will the solution help us deliver great customer experiences? More organizations are moving beyond empty goals like “becoming customer-obsessed” to define clear and actionable customer experience strategies. Look for solutions that will help you to break down organizational silos and support the full customer journey that traces how buyers interact with your organization.