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Web Based CRM Software: Hype Or Reality?

Aug 23, 2008
Web Based CRM is Software as a Service (SaaS) providing Customer Relationship Management functionality on the internet. Instead of buying the software licenses and installing the application on the company infrastructure, customers acquire a subscription to a system which can be accessed via the World Wide Web. Once the subscription fee is paid, customers can directly log into the web based CRM solution.

The crucial benefit of this software delivery model is the fast deployment of the application without having to go go through a costly and lengthy installation process. The absence of company-owned hardware also leads to lower capital investments and reduced operational costs (no need to hire costly system engineers to maintain the hardware infrastructure).

Finally, the cost of the implementation project will also typically be lower. However, this statement must be taken with a grain of salt. In the majority of cases, the business requirements are the most important drivers of the IT project cost. Web Based CRM software allows for fast access to the standard solution provided by the vendor. In many cases (and depending on your business), the standard implementation will not be able to fulfill all business needs.

In this case, additional customization of the On Demand CRM will be required. The more customization, the higher the project budget. So, take this into account when writing the business case.

Web Based CRM software supports many functionalities. The most common ones are SFA, lead management, opportunity management, partner management, customer service and support, contact center management, performance management and e-commerce. Additional more niche functionalities are E-Learning, Quality management and self-service vendors.

The last trends indicate a growing interest in Analytics and extensive integration of internet marketing services. The increasing interest in analytics, by the way, is not limited to web based CRM. The rise of analytics is a general trend in business software where higher levels of transparency are demanded by management on every level: strategic, tactical and operational.

The integration of internet marketing services such as Google's advertising service Adwords cannot be seen as a surprise. E-commerce and internet advertising are growing year by year. Google has become the number one place where customers go to find information to satisfy their needs and desires. This reality opens a lot of perspective for business. That is why the integration of internet sales and marketing services into web based CRM software is crucial.

The most important web CRM vendors are SalesForce, RightNow and NetSuite. These vendors have designed and implemented their online solutions with the internet in mind. Industry behemoths like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle (with Siebel) fairly recently added an On Demand offering to their portfolio, which in some cases is a web port of their traditional CRM suite.

Now, how to choose the right web based CRM software? The answer to this question depends on a number of criteria: what functionalities are required by your organization? How many users need access to the application? How mature is your IT organization? What is your back office system? How critical is the application? And many more ...

Before selecting a customer relationship management solution I would definitely recommend to start with a free trial, which will allow you to try the service before signing-up.
About the Author
Cedric Rinolda is IT Project Manager and Architect specialized in the implementation of business software. He writes opinions on the evolutions in the world of Software as a Service. Learn more about web based CRM software and choosing the right CRM vendor at his blog.
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