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Is it time to Upgrade your CRM System?

When is it the right time for an upgrade your CRM System? Now or later? Hopefully with a few pointers by the end of this article, you'll be better equipped to answer this question.

Many people will advise you to upgrade later. The reason is that CRM Systems have not had any significant investment and/or fundamental changes in recent times. The logic is that if you have purchased a system in the last 5 years, then nothing much has changed. Think of the old adage: "If it isn't broke, then don't fix it".

But there still could be some good reasons to think about an upgrade. Let's take a look at these reasons and prioritise them.

Top 10 Upgrade questions:

Some of the triggers that cause us to raise the Upgrade question are as follows:
  1. Compatibility with infrastructure - Will the CRM Client run on a Mac or Windows 8?
  2. Mobility - Is there an app that will work on my Android Phone or iPhone?
  3. Integration with the latest version of Outlook
  4. Integration with Microsoft Word & Excel
  5. Is it accessible via the Web?
  6. Is the system easy to use?
  7. Is the system stable?
  8. Can the system be customised, and can it then be upgraded with customisations?
  9. What is the performance like?
  10. How good is the Reporting system?

Other questions are related to the business are as follows: 

          1. Will it create value for the Customer? 
          2. Is the system contributing to the profitability with the business? 
          3. Is the system fully utilised by the appropriate others?


All reasons are not created equal. For example, if the system is hard to use or slow, then you might not need an upgrade. You may only need some fine-tuning of the database, or training. These adjustments can be made on your current system at a much lower cost, and may have a positive impact on how many are using your CRM system. Given the variability of each of the above questions, it makes sense to survey the team noting only the top reasons.

Once you have your final list, then review the reasons against each of the categories below giving the a score of 1 - 10, with 1 being the lowest.

However if your system is not creating value or profitability, then it may be time to re-think your CRM strategy and look for a new system that supports it. Contributing to the business is the single most critical success factor, and your CRM system should be a proven contributor in this metric.

You may be taking hits in efficiency if your system will not integrate with Microsoft products. It is critical to integrate CRM with your Outlook Calendar, and to be able to integrate with word to produce quotes and invoices. If the quoting system has a proprietary reports system which cannot be customised, then management may not be able to understand the current state of play. Ideally your CRM system should work with the latest versions of office, as well as previous versions.

For employees to use the system, they need access. Older systems tend to run behind a VPN (virtual private network), and can be reached via remote desktop for employees working in the field. This antiquated way of using the system is a hindrance, and may explain if there is low adoption of your CRM system. Newer CRM systems are accessible via the web, and have mobile applications which provide a subset of functionality such as contact management features. Current CRM systems either run in the Cloud, or can be reached for On-Premise installations via Web Services without any performance issues.

Windows based CRM systems that have been built in the last 10 years are mostly based on the .NET framework. If you are operating on an older architecture, your upgrade decision will restore compatibility with the Windows platform, which has been sailing into the .NET horizon for some time. Other advantages which are included in this design are more subtle but import nonetheless. For example, .NET platform CRM systems tend to be more open to integration, customisation, and are usually easier for the vendor to fix, when bugs occur. A good CRM system will usually have a .NET architecture, and a lower total cost of ownership.

The bottom line is: Ensure that your CRM system has a good architecture, is accessible and makes your staff efficient. Lastly, make sure that it is contributing to your bottom line. If not, then look to upgrade as soon as you can.

Once you have your final score, then congratulations! You now have the information that you need to help you to answer this question in an unbiased way. The next step is to look through each of these factors, going from highest to lowest rank.

Evaluate which items, if any can be resolved 1) In the current version 2) In an upgrade version 3) In a new CRM Product.

After all of your items have been categorised into the lists, then check each list and count the score. The resulting categories, once compared, should provide you with a clear picture of what you need to do next.

Good luck, and if you do have to upgrade, then good luck on your next quest, which is evaluating vendors and securing the budget!

Tim Lambert