Planning Your CRM Investment for 2013 – A Sensible Cost Guide

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If you are considering a new CRM solution for 2013, you’re not alone. According to a recent Forrester Wave™ research report, CRM adoption is on the rise for organizations of all sizes. The study found that 41 percent of the small and medium-sized businesses they surveyed had already implemented a CRM solution (a marketing, sales, or customer service application), and an additional 25 percent have plans to adopt a CRM solution within the next 12 to 24 months.

From an anecdotal standpoint, we can confirm that the market has heated up with renewed CRM interest. We just hosted several fall Microsoft Dynamics CRM events in the Chicago area, and the people who participated had genuine plans to implement a new CRM solution for 2013. In fact, several of the companies moved forward quickly with acquiring licenses and kicking off their implementation with the intent of going live before 2013. 

As you explore a new CRM solution, knowing how to budget for a new system will be top of mind, especially the cost to implement the software, which can be the biggest variable. Here are three important areas to consider when planning for the implementation costs for a new CRM solution:

#1 Time and urgency for a new CRM system. You need to factor in how much time it will take your organization to implement the solution, and how quickly you need to have your team up and running on a new CRM system―within weeks and ready to go at the start of 2013 so that you can take advantage of an improving economy? Or perhaps you are launching a new product or service line and need your marketing and sales team to be quickly organized and executing on new plans. Or do you have time to work through the CRM project over many months?

#2 Complexity of your CRM needs. What are your main goals for CRM both for the long term and short term? Do you need an easy sales and marketing solution for managing and tracking a sales pipeline and marketing activities? Do you need to tie quotes and orders to inventory items or service lines? For some companies, it is essential to customize a CRM solution with specific business processes unique to that business. Forms, fields, and workflows all need to be configured to meet special requirements. Going even further, for some organizations CRM needs to be cross-functional and encompass many departments and business processes across a diverse organization. You might have other systems that need to be integrated with CRM, from other business software being used to manage specific industry needs, to integration with your organization’s internal and external websites.

To help you understand your complexity, think about your needs in practical terms for these three categories of a CRM implementation:

Basic CRM for an “out-of-the-box” deployment of CRM. In other words, using the system “as is” for sales, marketing, and customer service teams
Tailored CRM for some customization of forms, fields, and workflows in the system to better reflect your business and for some customized reporting tools like charts and dashboards
Extended CRM for advanced customizations, integrations, and reporting, crossing many departments and operations of an organization, beyond sales, marketing, and customer service, and possibly including outside systems and web services

 #3 CRM readiness of your organization. Equally important is to have a realistic understanding of how ready your business is for a new CRM solution. Because CRM solutions are now available as a cloud solution, or software as a service model, like Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, having certain kinds of hardware or operating systems in place is no longer a hard technical requirement. If your people have access to the Internet, they can log onto a cloud-based or hosted CRM solution and work securely from any location. However, you do need to assess if your organization has the culture, business processes and realistic expectations to ensure a successful CRM project. Based on the complexity of your new CRM solution, you may also need internal IT resources and dedicated project managers.

For a simple, practical guide to planning for your CRM investment, download the Quick Guide: Investing in Customer Relationship Management and discover what it takes in terms of time, money, and resources to implement a new CRM solution. We also include CRM planning questions you might want to think about as your team gets ready for a new CRM solution and implementation project in 2013.

By Andree Dolan of Sikich LLP, a leading Microsoft Dynamics partner for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics SL

8 thoughts on “Planning Your CRM Investment for 2013 – A Sensible Cost Guide”

  1. Hello Sikich,

    CRM has come a long way since 2012 when you first wrote this article and the points you mentioned must have helped many in the past to work around their CRM development. I would like to take your effort further and encourage the use of Free Open Source CRMs. Please check which develops Custom CRM Softwares using free open source CRMs/ERP solutions. This keeps the ownership costs low for the receiving companies and at the same time also helps in maintaining quality as free open source gives as option to own the software before actually developing over it and thus helps in making informed decisions.

    Keep up the good work.


  2. This is great data and a good birds-eye view of what you'll be getting into with CRM. Based on the terrible adoption rate numbers out there, it's good to let companies know what they're getting into before they start wasting any money.

    For anyone looking here at the side beyond the cash investment for a custom CRM solution, I've made a write-up about it here: Hope it's alright if I link to it. Please remove if not.

    1. Brad,

      I had not ever heard of JobNimbus before but it appears to be similar in general to the concept of having a platform that can be built on or customized to each customer's needs much the same as Microsoft's Dynamics CRM is a platform that does a whole lot out of the box but is designed to be easily modified to each customer's needs.

  3. Hey, thanks for sharing your info, such a great help.
    I'm looking into a few options, have you heard of anyone using CRM Software from NEC? Would you recommend it?

    1. It appears that NEC is a Microsoft Partner based in Australia and they sell Dynamics CRM the same way we do. I don't have any experience or knowledge of their practice but the software they are implementing is the same software we are discussing in this paper.

    2. Hi Mark,
      I'm part of the CRM team at NEC. We've been recognised by Microsoft as CRM Partner of the Year for 2011 and also been awarded the "President Club Status" recognising us in the top 5% of Dynamics partners worldwide.

      I'd be keen to have the opportunity for a quick chat to share some of the recent work we have done as well as a chance to gain an insight into your requirements.

      You can reach me either on or 02 8669 9356.

  4. I'm not sure how you arrived at your estimated services budget numbers. The Basic CRM implementation takes less than 30 days and costs $15 to $20k. Let's say it took 20 days' consultancy effort and cost $17.5k so that's $875 per day.

    The Tailored CRM takes 3 to 6 months and costs $25k to $45k. Let's say it's 60 days' effort for $25k to 120 days' effort for $45k. Now the cost per day is $416 to $375.

    The cost per day usually remains fairly constant, so your numbers look pretty off to me.

    1. Neil,

      Thank you for your comments. The timelines provided in this document are not meant to be tied to a specific amount of hours to complete one project over another so trying to come up with some daily rate won't ever calculate properly. The ranges of costs are meant to illustrate the varying amounts of effort and the time frames are meant more as calendar time frames and not tied directly to hours incurred during that time. The more complex a project is, the more variance in time because of client availability, etc... I hope that helps clarify any discrepancies you feel are in the presented estimates.

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