January 19, 2017

Which CRM?

I work with many clients in many different stages of their business. Many of them have no idea what kind of CRM or project management system they need to support their thriving business. Many people don’t even know what a CRM is.

A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system. It’s a place for you to manage all the details relating to your current or potential customers, with a strong focus on communication. You can learn more about what a CRM is here. Another word you should know is ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning. ERPs typically have a stronger focus on internal business processes than CRMs do. You can learn more about ERPs here. Some ERPs also function as a CRM. Your goal in a CRM, ERP or combination of both is to make sure that your business has the software it needs to thrive.

While I can’t give you specific recommendations without hearing your specific situation, here are some common things to think about. As you read these pointers, make a list of the things you need to look for. Think of all situations – the more thought you put into the right CRM/ERP now, the better it will sustain your future growth.

  • People: Who are you interacting with? How important is it to record your conversation? What about your conversation do you need to record?
  • Scheduling: How many people are involved in client contact? How do you make sure that everyone knows where to be and that you can see where they were? How do you ensure that deadlines are met?
  • Workflow: Do you need to manage any projects? Is there a set of procedures you can follow or have the ERP make you follow? What about time tracking – how are you measuring time spent on each project?
  • Collaboration: What are the teams within your company? How do you make sure adequate communication happens? How can you reduce the amount of communication required? Any time you eliminate a need for communication, your chances of completing the project successfully and on time increase. How do you share files related to each client? Do you need to upload attachments to each client’s file?
  • Automation: What do you have to remember that a good CRM/ERP can remember for you? Examples are lists, reminders, follow ups, recurring tasks, billing, deadlines, communication with team members, integration with other software (like your phone).
  • Reporting: How do you know who did what and if it was done properly? How can you see the information that you need? What do you need to measure – is it your salesperson performance? What about income vs amount of time entered? How do you create your invoices?

Once you have your list, do your research to see if there’s a general or industry-specific CRM or ERP that will work for you. Don’t settle for anything less than what you need – if you can’t find one that works for you, have it made. The value of having the right system is much more than the cost of its development. It goes without saying that if the system won’t help your bottom line, then it’s not worth a big investment. For more on custom development, read this post.

If you need help figuring out which CRM or ERP will suit you best, feel free to contact me. Initial consultations are always free.

Good luck!

January 19, 2017