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Sales Force Automation Comparison Guide

Businesses of all sizes can benefit by automating all aspects of their sales processes with an SFA (Sales Force Automation) solution. But due to the sheer number of features that most SFA solutions...Read More


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How to Buy a Phone System

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Fully Managed CRM



I've been reading CRM RFP responses for much of the week and I've seen a number of references to fully managed systems. This caught my attention at first because it seemed to support the suggestion in my last post that outsourced of administration of CRM systems may prove a new growth area. Further reading however indicated that fully managed was nothing more exotic than the ability to host the technology externally.

It strikes me that the whole area of administering systems is a somewhat confusing and misleading one. While one of the attractions of hosted CRM is that someone else is tasked with maintaining the availability of systems, and there is no doubt this is beneficial if you are an organization without a depth of IT resource, it should be noted however that if a system is deployed effectively, the bulk of system management and administration still resides with the user regardless of whether the system is hosted or on premise.

The following is a fairly random and small sample of administration tasks which may have to be performed regardless of whom is managing the physical server

  • Adding new users
  • Retiring old ones
  • Changing security rights and user profiles
  • Importing and exporting data
  • Querying the database
  • Creating reports
  • Adding new mail-merge templates
  • Adding tables/fields
  • Managing pick-lists
  • Identifying and managing incomplete data
  • Identifying and managing duplicate records
  • Addressing user queries and questions
  • Performing training for new users
  • Collating issues and potential bugs
  • Liaising with vendor help desk
  • Realigning territories
  • Realigning activities
  • Setting up and managing remote user capabilities
  • Checking that defined usage procedures are being followed
  • Adapting processes
  • Liasing with vendors over the day to day running and development of the system
  • Etc. etc. etc.

As the length of this sample list indicates, ongoing CRM administration duties can prove considerably more demanding than might initially meet the eye. Therefore if you see the words fully managed system, it's worth questioning what this means in practical terms.

If I'm to be proved right, that there will be an emerging market where all administration tasks are outsourced, then the precursor to this will have to be organizations realizing better value from their investment in CRM technology. If you are only getting two and sixpence back then it's hard to see organizations inclined towards spending money on external administration, whereas if you have a system that's hugely value generative, investing to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs makes rather better sense.

A number of CRM providers are beginning to offer these types of administrative and support services. Three that immediately come to mind are Landslide, salesforce.com and NetSuite. Im sure that this trend will continue going forward and that ultimately the vast majority of on-demand CRM solution providers will offer fully managed CRM.



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