The best technology from a user’s perspective is the one that consistently does what it is designed to do without the user requiring detailed knowledge of the internal workings of the technology to be able to use the product. Basically good technology just works!! This also applies to CRM solutions. SMBs mostly want a CRM solution that aids them increasing their bottom line. SMB’s want the functionality that a CRM provides, without worrying about the precise technology supporting it. They do not want to become IT experts in order to deploy and support CRM solutions. They do not want to deal with the integration nightmare that comes with installing a new on premise IT solution and getting it to work with other existing IT solutions. They also equally want to avoid increasing their staff overhead in other to maintain a new IT solution. Basically they just want the CRM solution to work!!
Cloud based CRM solutions are the ideal solutions for SMBs who are focused on obtaining CRM functionality to achieve business outcomes without getting engulfed in the technical aspects of supporting the IT technology behind the CRM. A cloud solution is one which is hosted by a third party who manages all the technical details of the hosted application and rents out the IT service on a per use basis to different customers. Cloud based CRM solutions have the following advantages:
- Faster set-up time than an on premise version
- Less upfront acquisition cost compared to an premise version
- Lower administrative and support cost
- Easier to scale to more users as the organization grows.
- Pay only for what is used.
While the advantages of a cloud based CRM solution are obvious, the SMBs deploying the CRM solution will still be required to do the necessary due diligence to ensure that the cloud provider selected is fit for use and purpose. They will need to consider the following:
- The functionality of the cloud based application
- The type of support and service level agreement available with the provider
- The type of integration supported for third party applications
- Customization options provided
- For SMBs facing regulatory requirements: where the CRM application and data is hosted
Another key requirement for cloud based CRM solution is the network connection to the cloud solution needs to have a high level of uptime to prevent downtime to the IT service.
Because of the ease of set-up of a cloud based CRM solution, it is easy for SMBs to forego the essential requirement gathering and analysis phase. This phase aids in detailing the existing processes, workflows. And the subsequent analysis that defines the workflows, processes and reports that will be automated by the CRM solution. This step is still critical for cloud based solution as it ensures use of the technology leads to the realization of business objectives.
Choosing Cloud based CRM solutions enables SMBs to focus their resources on their core competence: getting their products and services to the right customers. And allows the SMB to outsource the hosting and support of the cloud solution to specialist third party providers.