Extreme CRM Makeover, Open Source Edition - Episode 3, It ain't just for sales people

Too many people still think CRM begins and ends as a tool for sales people, the whole company uses CRM today

In the first episode of this story we looked at American Bancard, the company who would be receiving the Extreme CRM Makeover. American Bancard was currently using a home grown CRM solution and was very close to signing with Saleforce.com for a new CRM. SugarCRM, the open source CRM alternative has instead stepped in and is providing the Extreme CRM Makeover that we are following.

One of the most important things I have learned in speaking to all of the parties is that CRM today is not just a tool for the sales team! Today's CRM solutions including the open source SugarCRM offer so much more than glorified contact managers of just a few short years ago.

I had a chance to sit down with Steve Scop, CTO at American Bancard and discuss this in depth. The homegrown CRM solution that Amercian Bancard was using had been outgrown some time ago. While Scop and his team could have tried to upgrade the existing system, that path was fraught with risk.  It is based on a LAMP stack, but documentation was poor. Operations and finance use the system for information gathering and could not afford a loss of service or data. Upgrading one part of the system, could break another part. Steve and his team also wanted to much more out of the CRM team. They envisioned a CRM that would also handle marketing.

American Bancard does a lot of pay per click advertising. They have inbound leads where potential customers fill out applications and forms.  Steve wanted his CRM system to handle this information, not only storing the data but then using that information gathered to generate yet other applications and forms to 3rd party providers.  It would take a combination of web services and sales force automation. In Steve's vision, much of this would take place without a sales person even being involved.

On the backend, finance, support and operations would also use the CRM solution to generate billing, track issues and plan and track new marketing campaigns.

Finally the traditional CRM role of sales people and agents using the CRM solution to track customer information and leads was important to the company.  Executive management wanted visibility into sales pipelines and funnels. But the information had to be able to be presented in a variety of ways. Therefore flexibility and customization options were very important to Steve and his team. None of the other solutions Steve looked at including Salesforce could compare to Sugar on this front.

I asked Steve to give me a list of why he chose to go forward with SugarCRM. Here is what he came up with:

Factors in choosing SugarCrm

 ·         Originally were going to purchase SalesForce because I felt they were the Defacto standard, but after talking to salesforce, we realized that they did not have some of the out of the box features we needed (i.e.pdf integration) .  Also, although salesforce was highly customizable, changes at the code-level were limited and must be cleared by the salesforce team.

·         Third Party Developers (I.e. we needed sugar to integrate with our existing pdf forms  and formrouter.com had the ideal add-on for us to use)

·         Full Source code availability was a huge factor.  It allows us to make it highly customizable for our unique needs (Need to integrate with our internal suite of custom financial applications)

·         Our existing CRM was very basic and manual when it came to marketing and sales automation.  We needed to use a CRM that had sales best practices already built in.

·         Integration of eMarketing with traditional marketing methods, tracking responses and gathering leads online.  We also like the sophisticated prospect targeting which will allow us to segment our customers and prospect lists for specific marketing initiatives.

·         Customizable Web Form integration from our many Pay Per Click campaigns and websites

·         Custom and Standard Reporting for forecasting sales, ROI reporting, tracking activity

·         Extensible Workflow Engine that’s needed in our sales and operations functions

·         Microsoft Office plugins was a big benefit to us as we use MS Office throughout the organization

·         Structured code, developer resources, active & large community, structured & consistent product, high quality forge

·         Looking at the editions head to head, SugarCRM offers more features for a lot less money per user/per year.

For me, the last bullet summed it up best, the open solution SugarCRM just gave more features for a lot less money per user per year.  A real advantage of the open source solution.

But as important as that is, don't miss the real lesson here. CRM today is not just a tool for the sales force. It is an imperative part of the successful organization and is used by just about every department.

Next we will look at the 3rd party provider helping American Bancard and SugarCRM customize the solution to American Bancard's needs.

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