Development does not equal Implementation. A CRM vendor develops a CRM system and focuses on perfecting the functioning of the software, its capabilities and its UI/UX. In most cases, development is not the best choice for CRM implementation. While CRM vendors know a great deal about the software, they lack the knowledge of implementing it for your business in a way which returns the most value to you. Same is the case with SugarCRM implementation.
(The decision for a CRM system can get a little bit tricky; more on choosing the ‘Right’ CRM here).
If you have made the decision to try Sugar out, you have done the right thing. After all, companies of all sizes and industries have succeeded with SugarCRM. This is mainly due to the fact that they have implemented SugarCRM successfully by taking into account their exact needs, processes, and functions.
Why Choose a SugarCRM Implementation Partner?
Implementing SugarCRM, or any CRM for that matter, is a complex task. Here’s an excellent piece on SugarCRM implementation and what you need to know about it. This is where the Partner Ecosystem of SugarCRM steps in. Where the CRM vendor exists to sell its software, CRM partners are there to help adopters by providing the most value for the business from the CRM.
You might have several reservations about going to SugarCRM partners. They might be charging you more. Why spend this extra money? How to evaluate them?
Firstly, I’ll try to answer some of the queries/confusions you might have about Sugar Implementation Partners and then I’ll move on to the best practices in evaluating them.
Is Choosing a Partner More Expensive?
Although a valid concern, choosing a partner for your SugarCRM Implementation is actually not expensive at all. SugarCRM alone has more than 650 partners globally to choose from. This competition compels them to bring their implementation fee so low that it hardly costs more than doing it yourself.
For example, if you want to get the Sugar Professional Edition implemented on your server, the implementation cost will hardly cost you more than $100. Surprised? You might have seen the packages that many partners put up on their websites asking for $2400 for basic installation.
This is the exact reason I’ve decided to write this post so you can spend only where you should and not be duped by people out there taking advantage of your little knowledge about the SugarCRM platform.
Am I Safe with My Implementation Partner?
Again, this is a valid concern that the partner that you have outsourced your implementation to may not deliver. Well, this is not the case since they cannot afford to do so. Why? Explains Barton Goldenberg, a chief CRM expert, that the competition compels them to deliver outclass services.
“They can’t afford failures anymore, so they will work double-hard to make sure you have success,” says Goldenberg.
Why Spend This Extra Money If I Can Do It Myself?
Simple answer! Let the experts do the job. SugarCRM knows how to create the best possible software; you know how your business is run in the best possible way. Integrating these two values is where the Implementation expertise comes in; how to make the best possible CRM work for your business in order to get you the best possible ROI.
Implementation alone does not get you the ROI. You need to make the CRM Implementation work for your business. Many companies fail in their CRM implementation because they don’t take into account the factors that lead to its success.
So, now you know that having a CRM partner lead your SugarCRM Implementation is not only much more economical than you thought but also gives you the opportunity to have a higher ROI of your SugarCRM Implementation. Let’s take a look at the strategies you can utilize in evaluating the Implementation Partner for your Sugar. Keep in mind that you cannot afford to have a partner who is anything less than perfect because CRM is a one-time investment and you want it to be done in the best possible manner.
Check Their Response Time (Seriously)
You might think that the first thing to evaluate should probably be their Implementation methodology or their capabilities. But let me explain! Nothing gets more frustrating than a CRM vendor who cheats with your time. Just imagine that you’ve chosen a partner but they are not responding to your requests on something that you need to be done at the earliest. Gets frustrating, right?
What is the best way to check their response time? Most often when they detect a potential business they’ll respond to you quickly and often most passionately to get the business. However, once the deal has been closed, the response time falls dramatically. Just ask them a question via their Social Media presence; maybe their company page on LinkedIn or Twitter. Just ask them about the product or implementation methodology. If they respond right away, it gives you a signal that they are responsive and the team responds in a prompt manner. If they don’t respond within a working day; let me tell you that it’s a big NO!
Ask for Their Implementation Methodology
Secondly, it is outright necessary to ask the CRM partners what their implementation methodology would be like. Most will try to satisfy you with flowcharts and rhetoric. This, of course, is a trap. Ask them for a consultative session in which you describe your exact processes and expectations from the Sugar deployment. Then ask them to explain how they will take up the project and how the implementation would reflect your existing systems. If they hesitate to provide you with the details; again it’s a No!
Evaluate Their Exclusive Expertise
Most CRM partners work with several CRM platforms and hold expertise in each and every one of them. A cursory look on their website profile doesn’t give you all the answers you need.
What should you do then? Specifically ask them how much experience they exclusively hold in the SugarCRM platform. This is a must to ask and evaluate because each CRM has its own architecture and is deployed in a way which returns the most value to you. Exclusive long term expertise in SugarCRM is a must, which brings us to the next point.
Have They Worked in Your Industry Before?
Another experience which counts is your industry-specific experience that the partner holds. When finalizing your selection, ask the partner to provide you with an example of your industry-specific deployment that they have carried out. A SugarCRM deployment in the education sector will be quite different from one in the Automobile industry. While it is not necessary for the partner to hold experience in exactly your industry, you can instead see if they hold experience in various industry verticals. That just shows their capability to customize SugarCRM deployment for your exact business as well.
Talk to Their Clients! But How?
If the partner is really good at what he does, then he must have a list of happy clients. But how can you talk to them? There are two ways. First: Simply ask to talk to their clients and most importantly the people who dealt with them on the deployment directly. Second: You can simply search for case studies on the partner’s website and contact the company similar to your own. This way, you get to know how satisfied his previous clients have been and whether you should go with him or not. Sometimes, you don’t even have to talk to the clients. Simply asking the Sugar Partner for client contact does the deal. If they provide it without hesitation, you should know that he means business.
Ask If Certified Experts Will Work on Your Project
This is really important. Most of the times, who you interact with is a project manager at the partner firm but you don’t know who is going to be working with your Sugar on the programming level. This is especially relevant when you’re getting your SugarCRM customized.
SugarCRM has a certification in which the developers have to undergo some training on the Sugar platform and then take a test after which they’re considered certified to work on SugarCRM. Ask beforehand who will be working on your project and whether the dedicated team is Sugar Certified or not.
How Ready Will Your SugarCRM Be After Implementation?
You should know the shape of your Sugar after implementation. Ask the Implementation Partner about all the activities that your team will be able to do on Sugar. Usually, a SugarCRM is ready when it has the following:
- Users Created
- Email Integrations
- Additional Reports
- Additional Modules Built
If you’re implementing Sugar from scratch, there are a few integrations which are a must to make it fully functional for your Sales or Marketing teams. These include Email integration, Marketing Automation Integration, and integration with accounting software like QuickBooks. Apart from these integrations, users must have their reporting and process workflows defined to start getting the best potential right away.
CRM implementation is complex and becomes daunting if not done right. Do not rush at this stage or make a hasty decision as choosing a partner is an important variable deciding the success of the CRM. These factors must be considered when choosing your SugarCRM Implementation Partner as it is the first step in your journey to get the best potential from your SugarCRM deployment to streamline your operations with CRM for small businesses.