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understanding of the processes at work within it, or of the pressing need for uniformity
and consistency in data that are entered into it.They are even less likely to be aware of
the complex processes that went into the analysis of the information that the database
manages nor of the effort that went into design of the database application itself. Sets of
acceptable values should ideally be included in the database design to prevent data from
being compromised.This is a problem that CRM purchasers must address if the system is
to be worthwhile. A new server may be required to host a large, centralised database, and
if an organisation's computers were not previously networked; this will have to be done.
These requirements will inevitably add to the cost of the CRM system, making essential
a step-by-step approach in the significant outlay involved.
A total eCRM solution is rarely cheap, and the costs are difficult to forecast without
an analysis of an organisation's existing software, hardware and working practices, but if
rigorously thought-out the system should pay for itself in the medium-to-long-term. It
may be tempting to choose a CRM system that is more feature-heavy (and therefore
more expensive) than is strictly necessary. Many organisations suffer from a negative
return on investment for some time after putting a brand-new eCRM system into place.
The benefits of certain marginal features must be weighed against the costs involved in
order to justify the inclusion of each component. Needless to say, the correct time to
carry out this process is at the planning stage, not during rollout or following the system's
introduction. Correcting errors can be as much as ten times more costly after implemen-
tation than at the development stage.
CRM vendors often claim that software rollout can be accomplished `quickly, effi-
ciently and cost-effectively', but measuring these factors objectively is difficult, and
attempting to gauge them empirically can become a frustrating and occasionally fruitless
task. In making the decision on which CRM system is most suitable, a key point for
consideration will usually be cost. Investing in a custom-made system may be inappropri-
ate or unfeasible for one organisation, but crucial for another. If corners are cut at the
initial stages of research and planning, greater costs are likely to be incurred later in the
process. Ready-to-use systems generally offer all of the standard features of a fully devel-
oped CRM system, but will require more thought and effort if the implementation is to
meet the specific needs of an organisation successfully.
Indeed, it may transpire that the system is not capable of meeting all of these needs.
The system can still be adapted to a degree sufficient to make it workable, but the likeli-
hood is that it will remain less efficient than a bespoke system. In this market, as in many
others, you get what you pay for.
Complacency is another danger that can befall larger companies who seek to install
customised systems.To assume that all necessary work has been completed by the CRM
provider is to neglect the internal adjustments that may still remain to be made.The soft-
ware may be compatible, and the system's capabilities may meet or exceed the particular
needs of the organisation, but a significant amount of time and effort must still be invest-
ed to integrate the CRM package usefully with the organisation's existing systems and
user community.
Customer feedback should be sought at each stage of implementation.This acts as a real-
ity check for developers who often get carried away with the technology, and prevents
them losing track of their original goal.
Customer Relationship
Management
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