Choosing the Right CRM for Your Economic Development Organization

There are a lot of questions to ask when it to choosing the right CRM for your business
One of the key things for any organization, let alone an EDO,  is reliable access to data, the ability to share and report on that data — for the entire team.

The software system of choice for any organization managing customer relations is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) like Salesforce.com

The basic premise of a CRM is to be able to record and maintain all customer and company information. This also includes interaction and document tracking.

If you are using a CRM, great!  This article can be used as a check to see how well (or if) your CRM of choice handles some of these items.

There are few common factors that need to be considered before you invest in a CRM product. Listed below are a few factors to keep in mind as you research for a stable CRM for your organization.

Factors to consider during your CRM research.

Feature Consideration

Any good CRM will provide basic features for capturing company and contact information. These basic features need to be reviewed, compared and contrasted between CRMs to decide which suits you best.

  1. Ease of use of application use with regards to data.
    1. Does the CRM use modern/adaptive user interface design.
    2. Is navigation simple and straightfoward? How may clicks does it take to enter or see basic data.
    3. How easy is it to access & search data about a specific customer or contact?
    4. How does the CRM expose and consume external data? For example, does it integrate with Google Suite or Microsoft Office?
  1. Customization of standard records & objects: accounts, contacts, leads, and opportunities.
    1. How well does the CRM adapt to your processes and procedures?
    2. Can you or your staff members make changes to the CRM as your organization changes and progresses?
    3. Does customization require you to engage the software vendor or an approved partner of the vendor?
  2. Reports and Dashboards.
    1. Are stock reports and dashboards provided?
    2. Is there an easy way to generate new reports?
    3. How quickly can your staff members generate a report that is needed for your executive team?
  3. Security, profiles, roles and permissions.
    1. Can your CRM adapt to your organization’s roles, rules and access rights?
    2. How flexible or feasible is it to change user permissions.
    3. Does the CRM use the latest security features like Single Sign-On(SSO) for authentication and authorization?
    4. How robust is the CRM when it comes to auditing and logging user activity and access?

Support Model

  1. What is the support model provided by the vendor?
  2. Can you purchase premium support?
  3. Will your implementation partner provide additional support for issues and enhancements?
  4. Can you reach out to the user community via user groups, conferences, and meetups, etc.?

Cost Consideration.

CRMs are available in numerous different price ranges. When you Google it, you will find price points ranging anywhere from zero to multi-millions.  However, when analyzing cost, you need to keep in mind the following items:

  1. Licensing
    1. Licensing is usually is based on number of users that will be using the system.
    2. Licensing cost is also typically based on the features you would need for your user  — advanced features will often be an add-on.
  2. Implementation
    1. You’ll either be doing it yourself (and spending time and effort), or you’ll hire the vendor or a 3rd party implementation partner, like Cyrtene.
  3. Customization
    1. Almost all CRMs, no matter how specifically tailored it is for an EDO, will need customization, and therefore, need a clear understanding of those customization costs.
  4. Support
    1. Every company provides various types of support for their clients. With implementation and customization, you will likely have a need for ongoing support. Get written details of the cost of support before commencing the project.

Market Share

Market share is a powerful indication of how well the CRM meets the needs of its customers.

  1. How many companies use it?  Are the customers confident the platform performs and meets there needs?
  2. Is there an established user community?
  3. How well does the CRM developer foster new ideas and promote customer feedback?

The above items should give you a good head start when you set out to choose the CRM platform for your EDO. This is not a comprehensive list of all the questions you might have, but should help you think about the common concerns and questions companies ask when we talk with them.

 

You can download a free copy of the CRM comparison white paper for more info.

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