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Small Business CRM Software: Digital Technology that Redefines the Customer-centric Business

Theres very little doubt that customer relationship management (CRM) has the potential to create sweeping, positive changes in virtually every aspect of business strategy and operation. Before these changes can go into effect, though, the organization must get past the period of evaluation and selection--quite the frustrating time for a business in flux. Heres how to evaluate small business CRM processes and what to look for in CRM software.

Identifying Worthy Small Business CRM Benchmarks

Shoestring CRM offers a comprehensive summary of the various aspects of small business CRM as well as how to assign them value when implementing a plan.

  • Defining Requirements: This entails taking an objective look at business requirements and translating them into CRM activities. An easy way to do this is to break requirements down into three main categories: scenarios, data and security
  • Prioritizing Requirements: Assigning weight to each requirement further assists in narrowing down vendors and software. While no one package can satisfy all needs, weighted requirements bring leading solutions to the forefront rather quickly
  • Developing a Software/Vendor List: List several options in order to reduce the amount of time it takes to zero-in on a go-to organization or technology suite.
  • Requesting Information: More critical than most realize, getting the full picture with regards to advantages and disadvantages eliminates last-minute surprises. Budgeting concerns are often solved through zealous examination of possible solutions
  • Determining Finalists: Narrowing down the list to a manageable, yet option-filled, list of finalists makes the process that much easier. Last-minute changes to strategies and budget allowances almost always happen. Having backup plans helps businesses account for those changes
  • Making a Decision: Typically, more than one person or department is involved, so identifying the decision-makers is crucial

Is Open Source CRM Software a Valid Option?

Open source CRM software typically has free access to the source code of software, allowing for businesses to tailor the suite to fit their needs. This idea fits small business CRM requirements--particularly for those who dont want to spend thousands on outsourcing or expensive technologies.

InformationWeek discusses ThyssenKrupp, the big German producer of steel and capital goods, and how they used open source software to create a versatile CRM operation for more than 200,000 employees. ThyssenKrupp uses Sugar CRM to manage workflow and report on the activities of different parties, both inside and outside the engineering group.

Up-and-Coming Small Business CRM Companies of Note

Just who are the top providers of outsourcing and software going to be in the coming year and beyond? ZDNet blogger Paul Greenberg has gathered his picks for the top solution-providers.

  • InsideView: A lean company that fuses CRM with business knowledge. Their emphasis is on competitive intelligence and social information to paint a complete picture of industry prospects.
  • Helpstream: The group that created CRM 2.0. They incorporate social functionality and customer feedback to sharpen offered services. Emphasis is on analytics, business rules, and workflow for increased productivity.
  • Connectbeam: The prize of this CRM 2.0 company features an enterprise-strength social collaboration application that uses ranking, comments, and ratings for optimal customer feedback.

Some industry-specific solutions offer even greater functionality and integration. Checking with associations could unearth new options for small business CRM software and drastically improve the way small companies do business.

Sources

ZDnet Blogs

Shoestringcrm.com


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