Often incorporated into the ERP Software vendor contract, licensing is a written agreement outlining the manufacturing software vendor’s rules regarding intellectual property, fair use, and costs. A license will describe what the organization can and cannot do with a CRM system. Some CRM vendors retain all ownership rights to the software, protecting their code from being modified by outside parties. Other CRM systems are “open source,” allowing users to modify the code extensively with minimal restrictions. Maintaining CRM software license requirements may require one-time or ongoing payments, or it may be free. Take care that you understand your CRM vendor’s licensing terms, and make sure you have them in writing.
Key Elements to Contracting and Licensing
There are several factors to consider when contracting and licensing software.
- Always negotiate a contract. Never begin a manufacturing software implementation without an agreement on a contract. All contracts are negotiable. Clearly articulate what you need; ask for changes if anything is missing.
- Know all costs. Every contract should clearly specify what the costs are for complete system installation, and what licensing and support costs are required going forward.
- Determine a timeline. Clarify how long the project will take and identify a delivery date.
- Clarify communication. Agree on a point of contact with the vendor or consultant, as well as how updates will be communicated. Ensure these updates will address any changes in cost, features, and timeline expectations.
- Identify a process for quality control and testing. Most CRM systems will require some unexpected modifications and updates during implementation. Clarify what the process is for identifying these changes, and how much of this cost (if any) will be borne by the customer.
- Establish a data-migration plan. Moving customer information into a new CRM system can be a time-consuming and technically advanced task. Identify the vendor or consultant’s role in this process.
- Know customer responsibilities. All customers must be involved in the CRM implementation process. Agree on testing periods, data-migration responsibilities, milestones for customer approval and sign-off, and training opportunities.
Some ERP Software require only basic setup and preparation before organizations can begin using them, while others require some to substantial customization before they can be implemented. In most cases, the development work will substantially affect the final CRM product, and will be the most significant cost component.
CRM developers require a clear understanding of an organization’s business rules. The organization should clarify any informal or undocumented processes that affect the customization of the CRM, and clearly explain these to the developer. The organization should also review the work of the developer at regular intervals to ensure that the task is being completed to satisfaction.
Elements to consider during software development include:
- Explain what, and why. Conversations with developers require a focus not only on what features should be built, but why they are important from the organization’s business perspective. Leaving out the “why” can lead developers to make incorrect assumptions about how features should work, resulting in costly overruns.
- Get involved. Organizations should review features in development, even if other parts of the CRM are not yet ready. This helps avoid mistakes from growing into costly budget items or missed timelines.
- Track accomplishments. Ask the vendor to document the features he or she has worked on, and what has been accomplished in each case. This helps organizations understand the costs of specific features, as well as what it might cost to continue working on them. It also helps confirm that the vendor is on schedule.
- Clarify change requests and bugs. Be sure to identify issues that appear to be “bugs” (something broken that the vendor should fix within the budget) and “changes” (work that may or may not cost the organization extra). Reach an agreement before proceeding to work on these.
Many organizations have information stored in older systems that they wish to move to the new CRM. This information is oftentimes organized differently from the new CRM system, requiring some effort to relocate. Focusing on migration strategies early on can help ensure a smoother transfer of information down the road.
Vendors require a close partnership with the organization to properly understand the groups or individuals responsible for migrating data. Having a good grasp of the organization’s ability to understand and manipulate their own data allows the vendor to offer tips and tools for how best to prepare for migration into the specific CRM tool, as well as to determine the optimal division of labor between the organization and vendor.
Guidelines to consider during data migration include:
- Find the data. Information is often scattered among various organizational staff and systems. Locate the useful information required to populate the field service management software and identify who maintains it, what it contains, and how accurate it is.
- Improve the data. Many organization move inaccurate data into their new CRM tool, creating just another problem for users. Work to identify existing inaccuracies, correcting these when possible prior to importing to the new system.
- Identify available migration tools. Some ngo accounting software and vendors offer tools and services to help transform data to fit the new CRM, and even to automatically move it into the system. Understand these tools and services early on and identify what work the organization must do to make use of these tools.
- Test before migrating. Make sure to run a “test migration” using the new CRM. A test will help ensure that the information transfers correctly and allows the organization to make corrections before the final transfer takes place.
Training and Support
ehs software offers a wide range of tools for users to learn and master. Many users will require multiple exposure to documentation and training in order to gain the critical skills required to succeed with the new CRM. Some CRM systems provide written documentation, videos, and other self-paced trainings, while others offer single or ongoing in-person group and individual trainings.
During training, remember:
- Identify all training options early. Give future hvac service software users a head start by introducing them to an overview of how they can learn to use the new CRM tool. Understand what is free and what is fee-based. Review trainings for quality and to prepare users for future training.
- Plan for gaps. In many cases, the available training materials will not cover every CRM feature the organization plans to use. Identify any gaps in training, including written materials, video, or live webinars. Plan for how these gaps may be filled, whether internally or via external consultant.
- Learn in context. Be sure to practice job card software skills using real data the trainee can recognize and understand.
- Train the trainers. Document all processes and tips gathered from trainings to facilitate future training of other staff.