Social CRM Software Selection - Technical Requirements

Social CRM Software Selection: Technical Requirements

By Barton Goldenberg

In my last post I began a discussion about selecting Social CRM software by outlining a 10-step methodology for determining and prioritizing the business requirements that need to be met by the project. Here I continue with respect to the technical aspects of Social CRM software implementation.

During the Social CRM software selection process, the project team needs to draft an initial list of technical requirements.  These should come directly from discussions with key stakeholders throughout the organization, including but not limited to IT personnel.

Some confusion may arise between the technical features of Social CRM system – these facilitate the use of the software, and technical platform issues – these deal with the architecture required to support the Social CRM system.  Decisions concerning technical platform issues most often rest with the organization’s IT department. Decisions concerning technical features should be heavily influenced by the end users who will work with the software on a regular basis.

Here are some examples of important technical platform issues:

  • Architecture: Will the Social CRM system be Net-Native (hosted on Web), Web-centric (browser-based), or is Web-enabled client/server architecture adequate?
  • Operating System: What operating system server environments will be compatible with the Social CRM system?
  • Client Environment: What client(s) will be used? Windows and Apple laptops, tablets and smartphone with iOS and Android?
  • Access: How will the Social CRM system be accessed (Internet, virtual private networks, LAN and/or wireless technology)?
  • Integration: What data integration tools are available in the Social CRM system for integrating social insight that is coming from Social Media community monitoring tools?
  • Synchronization: How will data be synchronized between Social Media communities and the Social CRM system and users (servers, databases, and locations)?
  • Security: What security features are available to protect Social CRM system data?
  • Hardware: Will existing computer hardware support the Social CRM system; if not, which new hardware will be required?

Here are two tips regarding technical features:

  1. Involve end-users in feature discussions: The organization’s IT department and external consultants (if any) should work closely with Social CRM users to determine which technical features should be included in the Social CRM software. End users can provide an important “sanity check”, helping to avoid over-specification that adds cost and complexity.
  2. Compare different products: Learn about possible technical features available in the marketplace by comparing different Social CRM software products. ISM can help. We evaluate all major CRM/Social CRM software solutions in depth and can provide detailed reviews to enable thorough comparison.

While often dazzling, technical features should not be judged on their wizardry, but rather on their business value.  While some will be valuable to your company’s Social CRM efforts, other are little more than technical toys. The most important features are those that help users feel comfortable with the system, enable them to access and navigate the system, and help make the system intuitive to their needs.

In my next blog post, I will discuss the next three stages in the Social CRM software selection process:

  1. Writing the Social CRM System Specifications
  2. The Vendor RFP Response Review
  3. The Social CRM Demo

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The Definitive Guide to Social CRMBarton Goldenberg, is the founder and president of ISM Inc., customer-centric strategists/implementers serving best-in-class organizations globally. As a CRM leader for 30 years, he was among the first three inductees in the CRM Hall of Fame. Recognized as a leading “customer-focused” author, his latest book, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, is hailed as the roadmap for Social CRM success. Barton is a popular speaker on “maximizing customer relationships to gain market insights, customers and profits”. He is a long-term columnist for CRM Magazine and speaker for CRMevolution and frequently quoted in the media.