Ziffpage Successful CRM Implementation Strategies

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2003-11-05 Print this article Print

Take It Slow: If youre planning a CRM implementation soon, dont rush. Youre better off taking a phased approach, rather than implementing everything all at once. For the first phase, simply install those modules that are most critical for your operation. Then wait until they have delivered a measurable return on investment before proceeding to the next phase.
This approach also lets you work with multiple vendors to select best of breed CRM components rather than opting to install a large and expensive integrated system from a single vendor.
Instead of buying into the all-in-one packages offered by SAP, IBM, PeopleSoft/J.D. Edwards, or Oracle, consider mixing and matching components from some of the smaller companies, such as Blue Pumpkin, Kana or Blue Martini. Whats wrong with the all-in-one approach? Those packages that combine typical CRM activities such as sales force automation, call center, order processing, inventory, partner relationship management and marketing can be risky as well as expensive. If something doesnt work right, you cant just scrap that module – you have to live or die by the entire package. Save Money With ASPs: Another potential money saving tactic is to work with Application Service Providers rather than purchasing software licenses for CRM components. This approach can potentially reduce both the up front cost and the investment risk by letting you pay as you go. It also makes it easy to phase in just the CRM modules you need. The ASP model is particularly valuable for small and medium sized businesses new to CRM, because its easy to implement and the initial cash outlay is small. Its essentially a form of outsourcing that lets you avoid the cost of an in-house implementation. It also allows your company to accurately predict and budget your CRM service costs down the road. There are a number of ASP-based CRM vendors, but currently Salesforce.com leads the way. The company claims that even major enterprises can reap substantial savings by outsourcing their CRM. Large companies are much more receptive to this approach today, because it lets them reduce their huge in-house data processing costs. Thats a big plus these days, with revenue and profit squeezed by the prolonged business slump. Working with ASPs complement the phased approach because you always have the option of gradually migrating critical CRM components in-house when need or cost considerations justify the move. So if youre planning a CRM implementation, consider combining a phased approach with an ASP model. That will increase the chances for success, along with delivering the biggest productivity and profitability gains from your investments in CRM technology. eWEEK.com Enterprise Applications Center Editor John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology.

John Pallatto John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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