Skip to main content

7 Factors in Choosing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Package


Many business reach a point in their growth when they consider implementing their first customer relationship management system (CRM).  Some of them start by using Excel or SharePoint for tracking customer data, then reach a point when they need functions that these tools do not easily provide, such as reports and dashboards or integration with other systems.

There is a wealth of online information available to companies shopping for CRM, so this blog post provides a starting point on some key factors to consider:
  1. Write down your requirements. A list of business needs will help you evaluate CRM options.  For instance, a requirement might be to allow customers to submit customer service cases online, or for sales people to track their performance for commissions. 
  2. Find something geared toward your industry. Not all businesses are the same, and many CRM systems are available which are tailored to your specific vertical (industry). For instance, you can find a CRM for insurance sales, health care providers, law firms, and many other industries.  If one of these suits your needs you will save significant time and money over buying and customizing a generic CRM product. 
  3. Choose a cloud-hosted CRM.  The leading CRM products, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365, are hosted by their vendors in their online cloud environments.  This means the vendor is responsible for backups, updates, and security patches.  Only rare circumstances require that you host your CRM on your own servers. 
  4. Determine which modules matter. The traditional modules for CRM are sales, marketing, and customer service.  Other modules are now offered such as project management and field service.  You need to know which modules or apps you plan to use so you can focus on evaluating the right ones and get pricing that includes the modules you need. 
  5. Get a demo and trial. Don't buy based on product feature comparison tables.  Stacking up features does not give you a sense of how it will be to work with the product.  There are online demo videos on YouTube and most vendors offer trial subscriptions so you can explore the system on your own.  You can also contact the vendor and get an online or in person demonstration from someone who is proficient with the product.
  6. Check your budget. CRM is affordable, but be sure to check on charges for extras such as additional storage and modules.  You can generally expect to pay something around $100/user/mo. for CRM subscriptions, depending on the modules you need.  If you have a large number of users, you may be eligible for volume discounts. My company InfoStrat has a calculator for Dynamics 365 pricing
  7. Look at compatibility for integration and user experience. CRM does not operate in a vacuum.  Consider how the product will fit in your IT infrastructure.  Does it integrate with your security to allow single sign-on? Do you need integration with document management or your website?  CRM vendors offer some built-in integrations and third parties offer integration tools at additional cost. 
Subjective factors are also important to consider.  The user experience, or look and feel, of the CRM will make a big difference in whether users adopt it.  The best CRM system, after all, is the one that is successfully adopted by your users. 

Popular posts from this blog

PowerApps Portal: The Successor to Microsoft Dynamics Portal

In case you have been reviewing Microsoft's new pricing for its Dynamics products which was released this month and have been unable to find Dynamics Portal, it has been rebranded as PowerApps Portal and shifted to the PowerApps side of the Microsoft product family.


Rebranding the portal product underscores the importance of app scenarios involving external users such as customers and suppliers.  It also provides a simpler interface than Dynamics 365 for occasional users.

The new portal pricing is based on the number of unique users who log into the portal each month (for authenticated users) and on the number of page views for anonymous users.  "A login provides an external authenticated user access to a single portal for up to 24 hours. Multiple logins during the 24-hour period count as 1 billable login. Internal users can be licensed either by the PowerApps per app or per users plans, or a qualifying Dynamics 365 subscription."

Pricing starts at $200/mo. for 100 dail…

ScreenMeet Remote Support Tool for Dynamics 365 Customer Service

I met Lou Guercia when he was president and CEO of Scribe Software, the leading CRM integration tool.  Scribe was acquired by TIBCO Software in 2018.  I recently reconnected with Lou and learned about ScreenMeet, the company he joined as chief operating officer.   The following is a description of the product provided by ScreenMeet:

ScreenMeet is a cloud-based remote support tool designed to integrate with Dynamics 365 Customer Service. By enabling customer service and IT support organizations to address critical technical issues directly from their CRM or ticketing platform, it streamlines the process and provides a fully browser-based support experience.

You can also use ScreenMeet with other CRM products or even on its own without a CRM.

Here is a short video demo of ScreenMeet with Dynamics integration:


ScreenMeet - Cloud-based Remote Support Integrated with Dynamics 365 Customer Support Once integrated with a Dynamics 365 CS organization, the ScreenMeet widget appears on Case pa…

Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow Licensing for Beginners

NOTE: Since this post was written, Microsoft has updated pricing.  For current pricing, see https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing

Next month marks two years since Microsoft announced the preview of its Flow workflow automation product.  Since then, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow have been gaining in popularity.

We at InfoStrat are receiving more questions from customers on how PowerApps and Flow are licensed by Microsoft.  This is a brief overview with links to authoritative Microsoft resources with all the details.

What are PowerApps and Flow? Microsoft PowerApps is a framework derived from Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) that allow you to build apps either with or without a form interface.  PowerApps works with Microsoft Flow.

Microsoft Flow is is a cloud software tool to build automated workflows that connect to many Microsoft and non-Microsoft systems and services.  For instance, you could write a workflow which would create a record in Dynamics 365 whenever a new file …