In our first post, we stressed the importance of clearly defining what processes the new system should enable and what steps should be automated. Once you have a very well defined idea of what the new system should accomplish and the level of automation that is needed, you can start to make the next critical decision – the technology to be used! Even though it seems that the world is moving to cloud computing, you still have the choice to build it yourself, use on premise commercial software, use hosted commercial software, or migrate to a cloud solution.
If you decide, based on the goals for your system and the resources you have available to build the system from scratch, you have a solid start on gathering the information you need to design, build, test, and deploy your homegrown system.
However, it is probably a safe bet that most of you are not thinking about developing a custom system, or even installing an on premise solution, but rather you are contemplating a move to a cloud based solution. Now that you are armed with a clear definition of the processes you should be enabling with the system and the level of automation you are trying to achieve, this will be a much easier process. Without the system limits from the first phase of the assessment, the tendency for most companies is to license more functionality than they will initially, and possibly, ever need. This can add up to a great deal of additional annual investment in the licenses, increase the cost of implementation, and add to the complexity of the system. Increased complexity will increase your training time and costs and decrease the overall adoption of the system. In short, licensing more functionality than you need is the fastest way to reduce your return on investment in any system.
The next logical step in creating a road map or glide path from your current system to the new system should not be to show how the new system will be a one for one replacement of your current system. Instead, your assessment should now focus on how your selected technology should be licensed and configured. In other words, what are the gaps between the base functionality of the system that will have to be filled with additional licenses and/or configuration. If you find that there are many gaps requiring many additional licenses and configuration, you should take a step back and ask 2 questions:
- Have we carefully determined the processes and automation? Most off-the-shelf and cloud solutions have a great deal of built in knowledge, if your needs don’t match the off-the-shelf or cloud solution closely, this may have been caused by expressing some needs during discovery that would not truly add benefit to your company if implemented.
- Have you selected the correct technology? If you are sure that you have correctly discovered your needs, it may be that you have selected the wrong technology. Be honest with yourself at this point, it is unlikely that you will be happy with your new system if it is a poor match and you have to extend the functionality with a number of additional licenses, or if you have to use non-standard configuration to approximate the functionality you need.
Generally, you will find that you have included functions and/or automation that you don’t need rather than having selected an incorrect technology. We know it is difficult to cull that list of requirements and pare it down. In fact you may need every bit of that functionality! That’s why every assessment should include timing and phasing, and that’s the subject of our next posting.
This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer. He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.