When investing in new technological solutions, organizations need to get every department within the company on board. But most importantly, they need the IT department’s input on the solution, features, security, and how the solution answers to or complements the existing pieces of software the company already has in its tech stack. Thus, balancing business needs with IT challenges does play a significant role in such decisions. And CRM tool investments are no different. Typically, CRM investments are made to meet the following business goals: to offer businesses a unified solution encompassing multiple departments and streamlining their processes. As such, CRM tools should align the following operations from a business needs perspective:
- Contact and lead management
- Sales pipeline tracking
- Customer interaction history
- Marketing automation
- Customer support ticketing
- Project management
At the same time, when looking at a CRM tool, IT leaders are driven in their decisions by the tool’s ability to meet the following demands as new trends emerge in the IT area:
- Driving innovation
- Driving new business models
- Dealing with supply chain issues
- Leveraging AI to the organization’s advantage
- Digital scalability
- Multiple applications across all departments
- A low-code/no-code model
- Data protection
- Data security and privacy, especially since organizations need to comply with GDPR and not only
- To be resilient in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.
Balancing business demands with IT challenges and trends can only be achieved by high-performing, flexible, and customizable pieces of software, especially when it comes to core tools, such as CRM solutions. Here’s what demands such tools should meet to satisfy both business and IT needs:
- Product resilience
- Low administration efforts
- Predictable Costs
- Configuration vs. Customization
- Security and Compliance
But let’s see more details on each of these points.
Technological resilience is critical for business development and growth. It’s the cornerstone of maintaining uninterrupted services and operations, from infrastructure to products. Tech limitations can be known as capacity limitations, system uptime, data quality, and the system’s ability to recover from a technical failure, physical or cybernetic event. When investing in CRM tools that aim to balance business needs with IT challenges, a product of this kind should feature high process visibility and transparency across processes and departments. It should function despite internal or external events such as cyberattacks, data corruption, catastrophic system failure, or other incidents.
Technological resilience is agile, scalable, recoverable, and interoperable. For example, here at Sugar, we have several ways in which we ensure to meet this specific business, and IT needs:
- Our systems are hosted in AWS Availability Zones;
- We have Global Delivery protocols;
- We have failover best practices with automated replication in place in case of unfortunate events;
- We ensure 99.7% uptime SLA.
This way, customers can achieve scalable, high-availability solutions globally without worrying about the catastrophic outcomes of the abovementioned events.
Low Administration Efforts
Many organizations imagine that they need to amp up their IT efforts as soon as they invest in CRM solutions. A good CRM is more flexible and can be administered at a departmental level, reducing IT involvement, and with proper training, every employee can navigate the functionality provided. Here’s how to spot a quality CRM when researching solutions for your business:
- It doesn’t require constant IT involvement;
- Can be administered at a departmental level;
- Features User Role templates to facilitate usability and adoption;
The CRM should have scheduled daily backups with a 30-day recovery period.
Although Administrator roles are available even in the most flexible CRMs, employees from each department can take on a similar role since reputable vendors offer training and certifications. The IT’s involvement in routine administrative tasks is reduced since each department can independently handle such tasks.
Let’s be clear: no organization or IT leader within any organization is eager for hidden costs to arise after investing in any technology pieces. Cost predictability is equally crucial for organizations as performance, features, or product agility. Here’s what you should look into when researching CRM solutions that get everybody on board, from the CEO to IT leaders.
- Flexible CRM tools that can grow and scale as your business grows at predictable costs.
- Multi-year cost lock-in
- Pricing is based on the level of the CRM’s storage usage level
To ensure that you make a good decision when researching a CRM solution for your enterprise, you must pay attention to the aspects above to ensure that the selected tool doesn’t end up costing above the allocated budget for such an investment.
Integrations and Extensibility
While a CRM is the core of your business operations, you must ensure that the selected CRM’s capabilities can be extended with the right integrations. In an ideal scenario, a CRM increases efficiency, boosts productivity, and helps your employees save time. But switching between tools quickly becomes a burden if your employees are using programs and tools that aren’t fully compatible with your CRM. The ideal integrations create a digital transformation in your company where data syncs up, and accuracy is guaranteed. A CRM tool only reaches its full potential when it connects with the software used at a departmental level and extracts and interprets the data to offer a full, complete context of each record, and not only. Certain benefits derive from a CRM with solid integration capabilities:
- It allows you to collaborate with existing applications in your tech stack.
- It meets your business needs as your company grows.
- It helps you maintain proper performance levels across your tech stack.
Security and Compliance
For all enterprises out there, security and compliance are two critical features. And for a good reason: a CRM tool stores complete customer data in a centralized fashion. Without proper security protocols, sensitive information such as customer data, business practices, strategies, and employment information can be subjected to cyber events. More than this, ensuring that your CRM of choice complies with various privacy laws and regulations (GDPR, for example) is also critical. Here are the top security and privacy features you should aim to find in your CRM:
- Cloud-based hosting – Cloud-based CRM systems are hosted in a secure cloud environment by your CRM provider. In this case, data can be accessed remotely around the clock in a centralized database. The good news is that with cloud-based CRM tools, your data is backed up every day, ensuring that you have access to your CRM securely.
- Data encryption – data encryption is necessary for CRM tools so you ensure that your data can only be accessed by authorized individuals, so search for this feature when researching your next CRM tool.
- Two-step authentication – All types of data, especially CRM data, must be protected beneath multiple layers of protection. This protects your data from phishing attempts that target usernames and passwords. A biometric or time-sensitive security token is the best for keeping your CRM data sheltered.
- User access management with Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) – RBAC restricts access to specific types of data, applications, or even entire networks based on a person’s role in an organization. Thus, ensuring your CRM of choice offers such security protocols is essential from an IT standpoint.
- Data Localization Controls – Many cloud providers are US-based, but many organizations outside the US are pushing for greater digital sovereignty. We previously mentioned the GDPR at a European level. Still, some organizations, such as healthcare institutions that may be using CRM tools, are dealing with even stricter regulations prohibiting them from transferring data outside the country of residency.
- Privacy Management – To uphold compliance with GDPR and CCPA regulations, your privacy policies must make clear why you’re collecting and storing data. The good news is that modern CRM tools actively support and enforce the implementation of data protection laws.
- Data Loss Prevention – Data loss prevention protocols are a solid way to protect your data from data leaks and prevent such attempts. DLP systems can be installed at the network, application, or endpoint level to stop sensitive data from leaving the pre-defined perimeter. Thus, data residence is significant to any company that does business worldwide. In this case, your CRM system must allow you to select exactly where your data is physically stored and which vendors have access to it.
- Consent Management – Such features are essential, especially for CRM tools. They ensure that you have your customer’s consent to store and process their data in the light of GDPR and CCPA regulations. A CRM tool that balances your business needs with your IT challenges allows end users to set up customized if and how their data can be stored and handled.
- Compliant Backup Systems – We mentioned on numerous occasions how vital CRM information is to your business. In the event of a data loss, businesses are susceptible to even closing their doors. Thus, finding a CRM vendor that has compliant backup systems is mandatory.
- Tracking and auditability – All online interactions leave a trace. While this can sometimes help you drive better business decisions, you need audit trails to ensure good privacy and security. These will help you ensure that you quickly spot any suspicious activity. Besides, in case of a data breach, an audit trail will help you get a track record of everything that happened with your data and the opportunity to mitigate the damage.
- Secure Integrations: If your CRM integrates with other tools or platforms, make sure those integrations are secure so you can prevent potential issues down the road.
Balancing your business needs with the growing IT challenges in the current business environment is a challenging task, but at least when selecting a CRM tool, you have a small guide on what to look for in your CRM solution and vendor.
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