Functional and technical requirements for CRM software. If you concluded that customer relationship management software is what your business lacks to go to the next level, this is the right article to read. With so many platforms to consider, you need to conduct in-depth research on CRMs before picking up one. After you narrow down the search by defining your industry and business model (B2B or B2C), it is time to identify the requirements for the system.
To make the selection easier, we decided to separate them into two categories: functional and technical. Each group of requirements contains certain tools that you might need from a CRM. All of them should be considered from the perspective of improving the efficiency of sales and generating a bigger income for the company.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at each group of requirements and consider the features included there.
The functional and technical requirements for CRM software: Functional requirements
As it can be judged from the name, functional requirements to a CRM system refer to the functional tools any company or sole proprietor may require from this software. They are intended to overcome the challenges you’re facing, increase quantitative and qualitative indicators, and facilitate the management of your business.
For example, your sales closure rate falls short of the expected one and your customer satisfaction level is far from desired. In this situation, you need to understand what exactly prevents you from reaching your target in sales and what tools you lack to improve your interaction with clients. Here is the list of what you may need from a CRM from the functional point of view.
This is the most important requirement to a CRM as sales bring profits to businesses. Sales features can help to maximize your chances for success in deal closure and increase the number of deals. The most demanded of them are the following:
- Task management
- Lead management
- Contact management
- Sales pipelines and forecasting
- Sales performance management
Having such a set of tools allows you to easily add or delete contacts in your base, change statuses of the leads and segment them, see prior history of interactions, and make notes on sales progress. Clients will never feel left off, as the responsible manager will always have access to their history of interactions with the company.
If you have a team of sales managers, you’d prefer to know how efficient they are, assess their performance, count the number of successful deals, track the time they spend per each contact and the number of hours worked. You can do all of that with the sales performance management feature.
With a sales pipeline, you’ll be able to view the progress of your sales operations and understand how many deals may be closed. It also includes the forecasting feature, which lets you predict the estimated revenue for a specific time and build up your strategy based on its indicators.
Calling prospects and offering them your services is no longer enough for the deal closure. Right marketing strategy is what you need to make people know about your product, and a CRM can provide you with built-in marketing tools for its promotion. They give you the following functionality:
- Campaign management
- Marketing automation
- Marketing lead management
- Email management and segmentation
- Event marketing
- Client interaction tracking
With such advanced marketing tools, you can run specific marketing campaigns, use targeting, track the progress of each interaction, and, subsequently, better respond to your clients’ needs. Also, you’ll be able to know your target audience and improve its engagement. The automation feature will make all the aforementioned much easier.
A customer who feels valued wants to buy more. Understanding your clients is no longer a problem if you know this simple truth. You need to personalize your communication with them, solve their issues and provide them with valuable information on the product. Here’s the list of tools that can help you improve business-to-client communication:
- Call and scenario automation
- Case management
- Customizable ticket status
- Online support and support automation
- Service level agreement management
The key feature of a CRM regarding customer service is organizing and keeping information on every client along with an opportunity to contact him via the way of communication comfortable for both sides. This multiplies your efforts in marketing and sales and helps to keep your clients happy. By the way, retaining the existing customers is 6-7 times cheaper than looking for new ones, so greater attention to customer support increases your chances for a successful deal.
Business reporting and analytics
Knowing in what direction your business is moving and what your current progress has always been important. Without this information, it is impossible to understand whether you’re standing still or moving forward. That is why report building has become one of the core features of CRM software. These are the tools giving you statistics on your performance:
- Pipeline forecasting
- Regression analysis
- DOA reports
- Discount effectiveness
- Leads by offer/source
- Life Cycle stage
Sales reports give you statistical information on your sales for a certain period so you can track your progress and analyze your performance. They can include forecasts based on your current data and trends available so far. You will also see which products receive negative feedback from the customers and try to understand how to fix the problematic issue.
Graphics and charts give you an illustration of what happens to your business, which helps you capture the information faster and make the decisions quicker. By comparing your current performance with one for the previous periods, you can identify the inconsistencies and take action right away.
The functional and technical requirements for CRM software: Technical requirements
With so many features mentioned above, what’s left regarding the technical requirements of a CRM? Well, quite a lot to be honest. The main difference between the functional and technical requirements is the question they raise in front of you. If a functional requirement stands for the what meaning a tool or a feature (functionality) you might need, then a technical requirement is the how – in what way software should work and which technical features it should have.
Knowing the technical requirements for a CRM system helps to choose the platform with the necessary technical capabilities for its proper management. Their number is less than one of the functional requirements but their significance is hard to overestimate. So here’s the list of the technical requirements for CRM you need to consider to not screw up the choice of CRM software.
When talking about the types of CRM deployment, it is worth mentioning that they are not limited to two options: on-premise or cloud. In fact, there are four of them, including private hosting and multi-tenant hosting (SaaS). Let’s clarify the differences between these deployment types.
On-premise hosting is the classical way to store your data. When it comes to the CRM installation, all you have to do is to upload the system to a server the company owns. This type of deployment is suitable for big organizations that need 24/7 access to their data and full control of it.
Cloud-based CRMs have become popular because there is no need for an in-house server anymore. The system is run through the cloud with you having access to it anywhere and anytime you want. An opportunity to shift between a public or private cloud gives you the chance to choose the desired vendor.
SaaS hosting means the same cloud storage but with the cost of subscription depending on the number of users. Considering that cloud CRMs are expensive, this type of deployment allows you to save more. This approach is good for sole proprietors or small companies with small teams.
Private hosting can be an option if you have access to a private server and own the storage capacities there. By installing a CRM to this VTS (Virtual Private Server), you’ll be able to use the system and any compatible software together.
Open source code
For a person who is not a developer, the phrase “open source code” means nothing specific. But for IT specialists who work with this code, it means the freedom to adapt the system to their needs. The thing is that open-source software has its source code publicly available, which allows users to add new functions to the program, fix bag, and modify the software the way they want.
The only shortcoming of a CRM with open code is that you’ll need a team of programmers to maintain the system and some time to set it up. However, it’s worth the candle as the functionality may be extended to an unlimited number of features, and the subscription cost is much lower than the one of ready-to-go CRMs. Don’t forget to make sure a CRM provides you with an active community where developers can discuss their issues and look for solutions.
For those businesses that don’t want to have anything to do with software developers but have all the functionality out of the box, a proprietary customer relationship management system would be a better choice.
This set of functions and programming protocols refers to backend development and is a variation of open source code. API stands for application programming interface and allows programmers to set up and integrate any program with your CRM. It enables the integration with various apps and sharing data between them and the system. API also makes it possible to synchronize the data and replicate it in every application.
With most businesses using Gmail or Outlook for mailing with their customers, the integration with Google Workspace (former G-Suite) and Microsoft apps is available by default in almost every CRM. But if you need extra business or accounting software that is not included in the subscription plans, API use will resolve the issue.
This requirement has become crucial after the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018. Despite the European origin of this regulation, it applies to businesses both within and outside the EU. From now on, every company is obliged to use only CRMs that ensure the safety and privacy of customers’ personal data.
The processing and storage of such data must be carried out with the help of encryption and anti-hacking tools. A CRM vendor also needs to release updates regularly to provide better security of a system. Besides, customers must give you consent for the processing of their personal information, and they can request you to delete their data at any time. For more information on GDPR and CRM, click here.
Summing up the idea
The best customer relationship management software is one that covers all of your needs both functionally and technically. Therefore, identifying the functional and technical requirements for CRM software is the key to the right choice of a CRM system.
Take your time to compile the list of tools and features you need, and then search for the best offer. If you are lucky, you’ll find the system with a reasonable price tag.
A small tip. Don’t forget to try a CRM before purchasing it and check it for ease of use. We didn’t include this criterion to our requirements, as it doesn’t belong to either functional or technical ones. But the importance of this feature is hard to overestimate.