Skip to content

How important is the next new feature in a CRM system?

October 4, 2010

[tweetmeme source=Your_Twitter_Account only_single=false]

Some would say to be the best at playing the air guitar you need a tennis racket, a pick and some great 80’s rock ‘n’ roll.  I would argue the extras are just nice to have “features” not requirements and your focus should be on the user experience.  Universally we all enjoy playing the air guitar and I would guess if we keep from adding too many features to the process all of us could be rock stars!

This is how I feel about Customer Relationship Management “CRM” systems in general.  Just too many cool features with little value add to the intended audience or user experience.  Today buyers are inundated with flashy features that come with little definition such as social marketing, sales methodologies, business planning & lifetime value monitoring just to name a few.

I do believe there is a place for a set of must have CRM system features.  I am also a strong proponent of CRM systems providing both integrations and insight into the social boom.  With this in mind let me take a stab at Kinsey’s core which I believe will set your organization up for greater user adoption, ability to measure results, improved productivity and calculate true return on your investment.

Kinsey’s top 10 must have CRM system features in no particular order –

  1. Simplified UI that keeps the user in a familiar environment – Microsoft Dynamic CRM’s user interface is a natural extension of Microsoft Outlook.
  2. Strong integration to productivity tools for message management, activity management & quote generation – Microsoft Dynamics CRM surfaced through Outlook allows users to manage customer e-mail, appointments, tasks, and contacts from a single business application.
  3. Dynamic reporting – Microsoft Dynamics CRM ha built-in integration to Microsoft Excel which provides users the ability to export static and or dynamic reports.
  4. Automated processes to support the sales, marketing and service processes – Windows Workflow Foundation is an out of the box set of functionality allowing users to automate defined business process.
  5. Ease of configuration to support system change – Microsoft Dynamics CRM administration allows database field creation, forms editing and ability to create new custom entities.
  6. Mobility support – Mobile Express for Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables access to Microsoft Dynamics CRM data in a web browser on a mobile device.
  7. Deployment flexibility – Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides choice and flexibility in how you implement and customize your CRM application so you can achieve the best fit for your business by providing On Premise, SAAS or partner hosted deployment options.
  8. Open architecture to support legacy system integrations – The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Development Kit (SDK) contains information for developers writing server-side code, custom business logic, integration modules, workflow assemblies, and plug-ins.
  9. Collaboration – Microsoft Dynamic CRM supports iframe integration to Microsoft SharePoint to store content supporting team collaboration.
  10. Data integrity tools – Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides the option to create duplicate detection rules to maintain data integrity.
  11. Ok I am going with a bonus feature “Social Interaction Tracking.”  The reason I list this as a bonus must have feature is that the social space is still being defined, not all of your customers have embraced it and the application of ‘social CRM” is still being defined – The Social Networking Accelerator for Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help you build and maintain social information systematically and efficiently.  With integrations to LinkedIn and Twitter, you can automatically track the activities of your contacts directly through Microsoft Dynamics CRM. 

Watch for my next blog on “CRM system give backs” – what do users get in exchange for buying into a CRM paltform deployment?

– Tracy

  1. It is an interesting list and a good attempt at the generic list of requirements. However, I believe that the devil is in the details. The next cool feature probably fits in as a nice detail to one of your generic items.

    • Thanks for the contributing comment. I would agree that with any core CRM feature each customer has a unique spin which in turn create need for additional new CRM functionality. I realize my list is a ‘good’ attempt at a generic list of requirements and my experience tells me like all software we only use less than 30% of its capabilities.

  2. Connor Marsden permalink

    Agree completley with the above… A great CRM needs to have the right core features, that compliment Ease-of-Use, not new features that are not needed and come at the expense of Ease-of-Use.

  3. kgordnus permalink

    Tracy love the analogy! You are spot on in providing a “bite size” overview for us folks that are trying to figure out what we really need in a CRM solution. There is so much out there and we cannot afford to buy everything. Hate looking like deer in headlights when these discussions come up this helps alot. Thx and cannot wait to see what is next.

  4. Jason Wickman permalink

    I agree. A cool, new feature becomes a great conversation topic, but rarely does it have a measurable impact on success or overall experience of a CRM implementation. A great core, in my opinion, has a 90%+ factor on the overall success. In my experience the quantity of features becomes a way to keep score on competing vendors more often than it has an impact on the quality of an implementation. With all that said there are specific features that may be mandatory for a given organization…it becomes a numbers game and more often than not – that one, cool, killer feature may not be the defining attribute that makes you a rock star.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: