It is common to see in many companies, IT systems which are not an exact fit for the business requirements. It is often seen that features which are not included are used as one of the parameters for choosing from different options while companies are looking at purchasing new software. It is seen that the application does turn out to be a right fit for people within the company, even after customizations have been applied.
What needs to be understood is that just because an application performed well, in the beginning, is no indicator of how it will perform in the future, as processes, individuals, and even the company tend to change with time. An increasing number of manual processes is the result. Even though this applies to any business application, this especially applies to customer relationship management (CRM) software.
CRM systems are primarily used by sales departments. One will notice that a company’s sales department is always in a state of flux with the change being the only constant – approval processes, sales strategies etc are always changing. Something different or new needs to be done by the CRM software for changes in operations. It is seen that manual processes need to run side by side with CRM systems.
A manual process may be a computer application that performs tasks that a CRM system doesn’t do, like recording information. Islands of information are created by these tools. Forms in the CRM system may be substituted by electronic forms in word processing applications, which are often passed by email among interested parties. While progressing to better sales operations, companies create problems which are resolved by ‘band-aid solutions’.
CRM software should be adapting to the company’s needs and not the opposite. Flexibility is a characteristic of most CRM systems. It is understood by developers that CRM software must have the flexibility required to adapt to changing processes. Therefore, band-aid solution should only be seen as temporary solutions. The CRM software can be changed by the company. Budgeting for consultants who will carry out CRM software customization is not done by many companies. Many companies do not even make sure that the training necessary for customizations inside the sales department is carried out.
Soon, the band-aids pile up to the extent that the CRM system begins to be viewed as a liability. This is funny because CRM systems are meant to make things easier. After this point is reached, a new CRM system is looked for by companies. The tragedy of this situation is that the old CRM system could’ve been changed to meet the needs of the present scenario, but is seen as the ‘culprit’. After all, everyone needs a scapegoat.
An awareness of every band-aid used is a characteristic of good sales management. Seeing the problem in advance before it becomes a disaster is another characteristic of good sales management. When data flow in the sales operations undergoes periodic reviews, where manual processes are present can be spotted. CRM system changes are budgeted for by good sales management.
What needs to be understood is that CRM systems should be changed regularly, and not replaced, to meet new scenarios; while avoiding a pile-up of band-aid solutions.