Web based CRM enables a company to access and update sales records and reports, contact information and more all through an internet browser. Companies opting for web based CRM systems can perform the same core functions of non-web based CRM systems without the need to purchase software and installation requirements. This model is commonly known as Software-as-a-Service or SaaS and is becoming more common with a variety of software offerings.
Web based solutions are a good option for companies that either don’t have the expertise or the bandwidth to implement and maintain the software. They are generally hosted and maintained by the service provider in which the end user pays a monthly or annual fee to use the system. The CRM software provider also stores and backs up all customer data the end users inputs into the CRM system. By removing the responsibility of set up and maintenance as well as automating manual processes, companies can focus more on growing their business.
Benefits of a web based CRM system are primarily related to end-user convenience and flexibility. Here’s a high level look at some of the specific benefits of web based CRM:
- Easy set up - Web based CRM solutions are simple to set up and do not require much more than importing customer and sales data in order to get started.
- On demand access - As long as the user has an internet connection, a web based CRM system can be used. Internet access gives end users the flexibility of accessing the system remotely or on the go.
- Low maintenance - Maintenance and data backup are handled by the service provider as they maintain the proprietary software.
- Growing employee base – Most web based CRM systems can accommodate a growing employee base. If your business starts with just 10 users but over time grows to 200, the system will accommodate the growth with ease.
- Low upfront cost – Like most Software-as-a-Service or SaaS offerings, a company generally pays a monthly or annual fee to use the software. The company can forgo upfront costs associated with software acquisition fees, upgrading existing IT infrastructure as well as hiring and training staff to maintain the infrastructure.
- Test the waters - Without the purchase of a permanent software solution, end users can change service providers if they find that their current solution isn’t working for them.
Despite the many benefits, there are some potential issues to consider. Below we’ve outlined some of the common issues with web based CRM.
- Long term costs – Over time, monthly and annual fees can add up to be more expensive than on-premise CRM systems so you must consider the total cost of ownership when selecting a CRM solution.
- Security – With sales and marketing data stored off-site, it’s imperative that a CRM software provider have rock solid security and that data is frequently backed up.
- Viability of service provider – In the event that your software provider goes out of business, you need to ensure there is a way to access and retain your data. Many providers include this in their contracts and agreements, but it is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
- Data migration – Transferring data to and from the cloud can be an issue with some operating systems and programs. Discussing this process prior to signing a contract is imperative to ensure data is not lost or put in limbo.
When deciding on whether or not to use web based CRM or which provider to work with, you must look at your unique business needs and make a determination based on that. While features and functionality may be similar, not all CRM solutions are built the same. Do your research and understand the advantages and the limitations of the solutions you’re considering.