CRM Software Requirements rfp mistakes

How to Identify CRM Requirements

Avoid Overlooking Key CRM Features

Use these Instructions to Select CRM Software More Reliably!





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How to Find CRM Requirements

The Most Overlooked CRM Requirements Instructions

Any search on Google about How to Find CRM Software Requirements finds many web sites and articles about how to determine CRM budgets, identify CRM stakeholders, and performing other CRM functions important in any effort to select CRM software.

The critical CRM issue that is missing in all those How to Select CRM Software articles is detailed instructions about HOW to specificaly identify CRM software requirements!

Many CRM experts provide how-to instructions that say "identify your CRM requirements" before making a CRM software selection, but they don't provide any detail intormation any about how to identify CRM requirements. What exactly does "identify your CRM requirements" really mean? No one takes the time to explain what CRM issues are required, or what is involved, to "identify your CRM requirements". How are they identified? How are they collected? There are many things that can effect how a "CRM requirement" can be identified, so what is the best way? Some of these are -

  • Should "CRM requirements" specify features or capabilities?
  • What is a "CRM requirement"?  Is it a CRM software feature or a business process need?
  • Should a "CRM requirement" only specify what is currently needed, or should it be about potential future needs as well?
  • At what level of detail should a "CRM requirement" be at?  For example, the statement "The new CRM system must provide an "Contact Report" identifies a very basic, "standard" requirement. Something that almost any CRM vendor can say YES to. That is not much help in identifying the BEST CRM system though. Instructions on How to Choose CRM software should address this.
  • What about CRM workflow? How does it relate to your effort to select CRM software?
  • How should CRM Business Process Reengineering (BPR) be treated?
  • How about the adequacy of exisitng data collection tools such as paper and web-based forms?

This article is about how to identify CRM software requirements based on well-defined methodes, and answers the above questions regarding CRM requirements and their impact on the CRM software selection process. Let's start off with an example of the bad impact just one ill-defined requirement can have on the outcome of a CRM software selection and/or implementation.

How Just One Poorly Defined CRM Requirement Impacts a Project

To show how important the act of correctly identifying CRM requirements can be, let's use our previous example requirements statement "The new CRM system must provide a "Contact Report"."

Since this appears to be a basic requirement many people in your company might consider that to be good enough for use in an RFP. Others may want to add "with the ability to specify a Starting and Ending Customer" because of the large number of customers, so the full requirement becomes:

"The new CRM system must provide a "Contact Report".
"The Contact Report must provide the ability to specify a Starting and Ending Customer."

The above looks good to all, it seems to go into enough detail, so it goes into the RFP. Especially since many people are thinking, "this is good enough, this is just a "standard" "Contact Report", something any good CRM system should be able to do".

All the vendors respond with YES to both of the above requirements, since they are very easy to do for almost any CRM system. A CRM system is chosen, partly because of the large amount of detail in its database, and implemention of the new CRM system is started.

CRM Problem #1 Comes Up

Very quickly there are problems with the Contact Report. It is VERY long, and uses tremendous amounts of paper, and takes a long time to finish, all because it includes a DETAIL transaction listing for every customer. It is now a new, unforeseen problem with the new CRM software, one that causes a delay in the CRM implementation while waiting for the problem to be fixed.

It takes several emergency meetings to determine the best way to solve the problems caused by a lengthy, unwieldy, and almost unusable "Contact Report". The solution is to add a new report setup parameter (control) enabling the user to specify if the DETAIL for each customer account should be printed or not. This is ideal since the "Contact Report" already includes a summary-level aging analysis that shows which accounts are past due.

The additional, totally unforeseen cost of adding the new new report setup control is not welocme, but neccessary. The implementation is re-started with a new GO-LIVE date.

CRM Problem #2 Shows Up

The CRM implementation moves into its final testing, when yet another deficiency in the "Contact Report" is found. The problem is that it takes a very long time to sift through the report looking for ONLY those customers sold through a Manufacturer Rep. The Rep is responsible for managing that customer account, so this is very important. So now there is another unforeseen problem that must be solved, calling for yet another series of unplanned, emergency meetings to resolve this new problem.

The solution to this problem is to automatically label (categorize) each customer account with its source of origin, i.e., either as a DIRECT or REP account.

The UNEXPECTED COST of the solution to this new problem is VERY LARGE since it involves significant changes in Customer Maintenance, Sales Order Entry, abd also the "Contact Report" Setup and Report processing. This is totally unacceptable since it now threatens to significantly REDUCE the financial benefits of the new CRM system.

CRM Problem #3 Shows Up

The new CRM system goes LIVE, and yet another NEW deficiency is reported by the people responsilble for collecing severely overdue accounts. They want to see a report of just those accounts that are 60 days or more past due, since it takes far too long to sift through the full report looking for just those accounts over 60 days past due. Again, another significant EXTRA COST is required to add a new control and modify the "Contact Report" (again!)

What is the Best Solution?

A typical CRM system use so many functional areas in the entire task of "identifying requirements" can be quite overwhelming. That is why many Web-based CRM software selection services and technology evaluation centers sell pre-populated RFPs. But, as we have discoved above, an RFP CRM software requirement are not adequately define your needs, especially a static CRM software features list created 3 months or 3 years ago. What is needed is an up-to-date list of CRM software requirements that truly reflect all your CRM software configuration, operational, and management requirements. The best, most efficient way to do that is described below.

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"The detailed requirements we found in the RFP template for process manufacturing ERP, as well as Infotivity's effective help, enabled the successful outcome of our CRM software selection project."
      - Diane H., Natural Cosmetics Mfr.

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