I see a lot of forum threads where the question has been asked, “How do you identify the best partner to do x, y and z for your business?” The focus of the responses to threads like this is always interesting.
One common question is about web design, and the answers often concentrate on the distinction between designers and coders. The generalisation is usually that designers are concerned with form over function, and developers or coders are the opposite. However, the focus of both of these is on the creation of the site itself, in whatever form it takes.
Another common query is about CRM – how do you identify the best system? Again, responses revolve around features of particular solutions, often based on the respondent’s experiences with a given solution.
What intrigues me about all of these threads is the fact that people are often not looking at the business for which the solution is required. Websites and CRM systems are not like cars or washing machines – you don’t just buy one that you like the look of because you know that whatever you buy it will drive you from A to B, or wash your clothes. The solution you need in terms of technology for your business is one that you can work with, and which will deliver what you need with minimal impact on the way you operate.
You have to start from the business end, and look at all the processes and aims and personalities involved (yes, personalities are important!) and then start to look for the solutions to meet the business need. When you are buying insurance or a mortgage, you need a broker that has access to the whole of the market, and can therefore pick the best option to suit your needs.
Why then, when you need a new CRM system or website, do you go straight to the provider, rather than through a ‘broker’ who can help you to ensure that the final solution is a fit for the business? Many business owners are not technologists, so this type of support is vital, and can save huge amounts of time and money in the end.
A year or two ago, I saw a statistic that said that a significant percentage of CRM implementations fail to deliver. I suspect that this is because the systems selected were not a good fit for the business, as opposed to them being bad systems. The advice of someone with nothing specific to sell, and an objective opinion as to the way to get what you want and need, could be worth more than you think.