I’ve been thinking abut CRM and how it relates to SMEs. The way I see it Salesforce is primarily a medium/large business offering – it’s good but it’s just too complex for smaller businesses. On the other hand, contact logs of the likes seen in MYOB and other SME accounting packages are too limiting, comprising as they do of very simple logging. We use SugarCRM partly because it’s free and partly because it’s available but to be honest we use about 10% of it’s functionality.

So what is optimum and where should it be domiciled?

Well for an SME it makes sense for CRM to be integral (or at least closely coupled) with the accounting system. For SMEs CRM is all about managing their customers and ensuring their sales and inventories are balanced to most meet their customers needs – the place to do this is the accounting package where sales get entered, inventory is tracked and accont receivables are logged.

Now to functionality – Salesforce has it all; opportunities this, leads that, pipeline the other. But what do SMEs need at its simplest;

  • A directory of their customers (now that’s a no-brainer)
  • A record of all sales to their customers, and payments received from them
  • The ability to enter new customers and possible sales opportunities (but don’t need distinct lead/opportunity areas)
  • The ability to run reports showing outstanding sales opportunities
  • An interface with a calendering application to allow for simple resource planning
  • A dashboard which will show both KPIs in terms of existing customer contact and new business acquisition

Bottom line is CRMlite is an important need for SMEs, but full CRM is just too much for them – yet again it’s a case of smart plays aggregating formerly diverse areas of business need to provide a compelling product or service.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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