Your team needs new CRM or ERP software so you asked some software houses for a quote. They have got back to you and the offers are waiting on your desk. What happens next?
The most demanding and time-consuming part is to compare the offers you get. It requires making a few difficult decisions. It seems that it is easiest to compare the prices but in this case it may not be so obvious.
How to compare offers from CRM and ERP system providers
During the whole process of comparing software houses, speaking to their representatives, and analyzing agreements, remember that it is your company’s needs that are the most important. Your company means your employees. It is them who will use the software daily. A year after implementing the software your team will increase their efficiency by “40%” or will waste thousands of hours of work and you will come to a conclusion that the new system failed to improve anything. You should bear in mind that even large companies that hire a lot of professionals do sometimes fail when implementing a new system.
That means the whole project is very important for the whole team. Mind that there are no shortcuts in this process and you should compare all your options keeping in mind what you had found out when analyzing the needs of your company.
You should avoid being tempted to choose an offer due to one of the below reasons:
the provider is local to you
the application has nice colors
the software has 5 extra modules (which you don’t really need)
The needs of your company are essential
You can only compare the offers once you have analyzed your team’s needs. Otherwise, you won’t be able to make an informed decision. Your team and your whole company will be facing the consequences of your choice for the next few years.
The process of comparing offers from CRM and ERP application providers
Which offers should you turn down?
At the beginning, you should reject the solutions that are not exactly what you want.
Say you need an application that can be used on smartphones, tablets and computers. It has to be compatible with Windows, Linux and MacOS. In this case, you should reject all desktop solutions as they fail to meet your major criteria. Focus only on those offers that promise to meet the requirement.
As another example, let’s assume you want to control how the application develops in the future. Then, you should not consider options where the software provider wants you to buy a license because this will mean you will not be able to change the way the application grows. Ensure that the agreement you sign states that you will receive the required rights to the application and the code and databases will not be encoded.
What criteria to follow when comparing quotes for CRM or ERP application
There are many criteria to take into consideration when choosing your software provider. All departments should list their requirements and all the needs should be confronted with each analyzed solution.
E.g. you need to be able to send text messages through the application. Be more precise in this respect.
A. When you access your customer profile you want to see an icon „Send txt” next to the name of the customer. When you click it you get a text window where you enter your message and press the “Send” button. Do you need the list of sent messages to be stored somewhere?
B. Your team needs to schedule sending a text message to John Smith tomorrow at 14:18.
C. Another example would be the requirement to have automated texts sent to customers in certain cases. E.g. the system can send a ready text message to the customer if they have not paid an invoice. The customer will receive a text after a few days from the day the payment was due.
D. Yet another function would be to have the option for the users to set the automated text templates themselves. In this case, they would need to be able to change the type of event that needs to occur for the message to be sent, the time after the event when the message gets sent, the recipient, the sender, the message itself.
The 4 different functions described above give your team new possibilities. You cannot simply verify whether an analyzed solution has or doesn’t have the option to send text messages. The devil is in the details and it is those that will determine the success of the project.
If one solution offers all of the described options and the other solution can only satisfy the A and B scenarios, that does not necessarily mean that the first solution is better. It will all depend on what your requirements are. If your team only needs the A function, that means both solutions will have the same functionality for you. The first one will simply have a few more options that you don’t really need but will have to pay for.
Service Agreement for CRM and ERP applications
Read the agreement carefully to know exactly what you are paying for and what rights you will have to the application. It is pointless to compare the final prices without reading into the agreement. If the terms of the agreement are unclear to you, ask your lawyer and an IT advisor for help. Clear up any doubts before you make the final decision. The agreement will specify a lot of significant issues such as software warranty, response time, staff training and many others.
Choosing the best offer
Choose between 2 to 5 solutions which you will be comparing. Step by step, decide whether they can meet your requirements in a way that you find necessary (the analysis of your requirements should already be done before this stage). If you have any doubts at this stage, ask the software provider to clear them up. If a software house cannot introduce some minor function to the application, don’t reject them straight away. In the case of application development, it is rare for a solution to have all the options you want. It is always a matter of finding such solutions that fulfil your major needs.
Create a list of issues and assign a number of points to each of them, which will relate to their significance. At the end, you will have a fairly objective opinion on the considered solutions for your team. It may not mean you will be ready to make the final choice but you will definitely have the knowledge that is necessary to make an informed decision. It is worth to ask an IT advisor for help when making the selection. Their comments may be really helpful, especially if they have experience in implementing software in similar companies.