Setting Expectations for Online CRM

Small to mid-size businesses looking for online CRM software need to set the proper expectations when selecting newer CRM technology that’s delivered over the Internet.

The "No Stress" StickerFor the past two decades the standard for CRM software was on premise or desktop applications. Over the years, these programs became very mature allowing administrators and end users to tailor the software to meet unique business requirements.  Companies that are now looking to transition to online CRM where the software is hosted or managed by a third party need to appreciate that many of these newer CRM software programs have been designed to provide customers with a set of “out of the box applications” and features that meet generic business requirements.  While some of the enterprise CRM solutions offer tools for customization they are traditionally very expensive and require programming expertise to utilize.  This can add a significant cost to the overall expense of your CRM system.

One of the ways to quickly rule out CRM systems that offer good customizability from those that don’t is cost.  While this may seem basic, it works.  Low cost CRM solutions typically offer basic CRM features and functionality with minimal customization if any.  Mid-level systems traditionally offer security permissions, and the ability to add custom fields, views, forms, and reports. But if integrating third party programs and modifying the look and feel of the CRM program is required, you will need to consider enterprise level CRM software.

If a low cost solution with limited customization will meet your requirements there are a myriad of low cost offerings to choose from but it may be difficult to differentiate one from another.  The mid-market offers a bit more clarity with several very good offerings from companies such as Commence CRM and SugarCRM.  The leaders in the enterprise market include offerings from Salesforce.com, Microsoft and Oracle.

Image ‘The “No Stress” Sticker’ by Morton Fox on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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