By - Limesh Parekh

limesh

IT System Integrators sell IT Solutions to the whole world, but when it comes to automating their businesses, they are always reluctant, even the basic tools like CRM for System Integrators. So here are few tips for buying CRM for System Integrators.

But before discussing CRM, let’s address the pain areas of System Integration Business. In service Industry, biggest problem is to get time and cost analysis of Team Members and Customers. Bigger challenge is to get it effortlessly.

When we say System Integrators we mean IT System Integrators, Hardware vendors, AMC providers but also includes non-IT businesses. SI business is very typical because it involves Sales, Service, Maintenance, replacement, SLA, Contracts and many other parameters. CRM requirements for smaller SIs is very different from larger SIs, who need more integration, automation and comprehensive process control.

The pain areas for smaller SIs are very different. Here’s a couple of them and their proposed solutions.
-Centralised and accurate Client Information database. Customer Information includes not only contact details but also their buying preferences and engagement levels. Having proper classification and categorization of the customer will enable SIs to cross sell and up sell. This information has to be available on Mobile.
Example: If you are selling Tally ERP and also AMC for Tally, wouldn’t it be great to have list of clients who have bought Tally, so that you can pitch them AMC and other related and similar service

- Essential Sales / Service Management.
Even if CRM helps you not to miss any followup for Sales or service, its worth its price. Relying on memory for Managing Enquiries and support calls is critically risky. Manual processes don’t provide you alerts and automatic escalations. Do you require Sales /Service Management? Here’s Quick Check:
o Do you often miss enquiries that your (prospective) clients had given you?
o Do you miss follow-ups with your Clients? (Remember, Fortune is in followup)
o Do you find difficult to get reporting from your Sales team?
o If your service team fails, who informs you? Your system or annoyed Client?

- Customer Activities and Communication. In a smaller team where more than one people are communicating with team members of the clients, it’s tough to track progress on every Sales Enquiry or Support case. The result of this problem is that huge amount of time and energy is wasted in unnecessary internal communication.
Example: Owner is calling his Service engineers ten times in a day just to know where he has reached and what he has completed. Or calling Sales person few times just to understand which calls have been completed.

- Team Task Management: Managing internal tasks assigned to team members is also a challenging work for small SIs. They spend a significant amount of time to track internal tasks. This might also include the requirement for Employee Tracking (time and location tracking with mobile App).

Larger SIs have very different type of Challenges:
- Efficient and functional Integrations with existing Systems like ERP, Customer Portal, website or even some ticket management system.
- Automation like Email to Ticket or Email to Lead.
- Meeting Compliance and SLA for clients and various other agencies.

Some serious mistakes that System Integrators do while implementing CRM (and how to avoid them):

Best practices which apply to larger organisations are not always suitable or smaller teams. We can not just apply it blindly. Think of CRM as an enabler for your team and not as a tracking mechanism. Focus more on basics first. Many times SIs, because they think they know technology much better, simply want to implement most advanced features first. Do necessary ground work. Remember if your team members don’t use CRM, it’s of no use. Don’t be paranoid about security. Be practical about access to information. Prepare your data, develop and document your processes. It’s not going to be an overnight process, Be patience and persistent.

Choosing Right CRM for System Integration Business:

Be prepared with a list of features that you want. It should be “Must Have”, “Should have”, “Good to have”, “Optional” or “don’t need.”. I know it sounds very tedious work, but do it, because without this exercise your CRM experience will never be complete. Choose a vendor who is using CRM themselves.

Many small software vendors sell CRM, but they never use CRM in their organisations. These people will never understand your problems. Mobile App is a must. In today’s world, a CRM without Mobile app is suicidal. Time and Cost Analysis for employees, Cases, AMC and clients. Activity

Logging is a must. For example, CRM (or its mobile App) should be able to log Calls, SMS, Emails, Activities, Meetings and tasks without much efforts. Check for the ability to create custom fields and custom modules without the need for developer’s engagement (Coding). Custom and Configurable Dashboards, reports. Also, the capacity to build custom reports without the developer. Ability to expand with additional workflows, escalations, automation and approvals.

Advanced data access control should be out of the box (configurable). API for external integration. In today’s world implementing any piece of software which does not talk to outside world is a criminal mistake.

[The author is CEO and Founder of Enjay IT Solutions]