By Barton Goldenberg
In my last post I discussed the key technical aspects of Social CRM software selection. Now I will discuss three significant phases in the software selection process: writing the system specifications, vendor RFP response review and the Social CRM demo.
Writing the System Specifications
Upon completion of the system needs analysis, prioritized business functional requirements and technical features evaluation, the organization is ready to write a systems specifications document. This document forms the basis for the Request for Proposal (RFP) that gets sent to a short-list of qualified vendors.
Here are a few recommendations that I’ve found to help structure a sound Social CRM system RFP:
- General Conditions Section – List general organizational conditions of significance such as the right to reject, performance conditions and response verification.
- Vendor Instructions – Provide a clear description to the vendor about the purpose of the specifications document, selection and award process, and contract negotiations.
- Proposal Guidelines/Formats – Specify the format for the RFP response and provide the RFP evaluation criteria.
- Vendor Profile – Ask the vendor to provide this background information:
- An affirmation that the vendor has a history of providing quality work
- A profile of the vendor’s product lines along with the industries served
- A list of elements that differentiate the vendor from other organizations
- The names of at least three clients who can be used as references
In addition, here is a short-list of specific Social CRM criteria that I ask the vendors to evaluate themselves against:
- Links/integration with Social Media communities, blogs, and online forums
- Social Media dashboard
- Activity feeds/Micro-blogging
- Access to video spots
- Access to wiki databases
- Social Media monitoring
- Social Media post routing
- Social Media information archive
- Social Media analytics
Vendor RFP Response Review & Social CRM Demo
Once the vendors have submitted their RFP responses, the next step is to review their responses and to invite between one and three vendors to demonstrate their software. To keep the vendors focused on the organization’s specific needs, ask the selected vendors to demonstrate the software functions that they described in their RFP response document at your organization’s facilities. Furthermore, ask the selected vendors to set up their software on your equipment. Where this is not possible, insist that they create a technical environment as similar as possible to the one on which the eventual system.
Taking the time to carefully write detailed system specifications and a well-constructed RFP will greatly improve the chances that the Social CRM system you end up utilizing closely matches your requirements.
In my next blog post, I will discuss the twelve essential questions to ask Social CRM software providers during the selection process.
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Barton 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.