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Three Things You Should Know Before Selecting A Web CRM Software Solution

Sep 11, 2008
Most of the articles on the internet discuss the benefits of web based CRM software. It is true that this subscription based business software model has a lot of advantages but potential customers must not neglect the challenges of CRM On Demand solutions.

The top three challenges are: integration, security and support. This article will discuss each of these challenges in detail and provide recommendations on how to effectively manage them.

Although technical integration of web based platforms is made a lot easier through the adoption of open standards (such as web services, SOAP, XML, etc.), a lot of challenges remain. As a matter of fact, the integration with regards to business processes and business objects requires a lot more investment during a customer relationship management implementation than the integration on a technical level.

An important complexity driver are the different underlying data models. When, for example, an SAP ERP back-end is interfaced with a Salesforce CRM package, both solution's data models are different in many ways. In order to connect both applications a lot of analysis, design and implementation effort is required. This exercise typically involves a lot of interaction with people from different departments, business units and even third parties.

Customers should take this effort into account when determining the project implementation budget. Otherwise the project will get in financial trouble during its implementation.

A second web based CRM software challenge is security. As discussed in the previous paragraph, the technical integration of web based business applications is becoming more and more straight forward. The internet based CRM application is accessible from all over the web by anyone who has access to a computer and the internet. So any kid with an internet connection and some software tools can take a lucky shot at hacking into your web based customer relationship management application.

Of course, security is a number one priority for the CRM On Demand vendors like Salesforce, Microsoft and RightNow. However, IT managers should take this point very seriously and make it a priority when comparing and selecting the right online CRM solution.

The third challenge is the lack of control an IT department has over the operations side of a web based CRM software solution. When subscribing to a subscription based business application, the service comes with a standard service level agreement.

On first sight the SLA seems to provide some guarantees regarding the stability, performance and reliability of the software. However, in order to prevent any surprises when the CRM solution is in production, we clearly advise to thoroughly read all the SLA contract details. Customers should especially be cautious with regards to downtime clauses in case of maintenance.

This article discussed the main challenges for a web CRM software implementation: integration, security and support. Sponsors, senior suppliers and senior users must take these challenges into account when selecting business application in a software as a service model. During contract negotiations with CRM vendors we specifically advise to make clear arrangements regarding the operational stability, performance and up-time.
About the Author
Experienced IT Consultant specialized in the implementation of business applications with a profound interest in web based services. On his blog, Cedric Rinolda writes about Web CRM Software, its benefits and the main ondemand CRM disadvantages.
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