Two years ago I wrote a short product review article for CPAs on the topic of Client Relationship Management Software (CRM) that was based on my own experience trying to find a suitable platform for my own sole practitioner financial advisory business. The article titled Tech Product Review: Client Relationship Manager (CRM) Software was published in July 2012 by the New Jersey Society of CPAs. Since then, I’ve reported that the field remains unsettled and that I am personally not satisfied with any of the available solutions.
Apparently I am not alone in my discontent. The following passage comes from an undated white paper at www.outlookwise.com: “A recent Butler Group report found that 70 percent of CRM implementations fail. A Gartner study found that approximately 55 percent of all CRM projects failed to meet software customers’ expectations. In a Bain & Company survey of 451 senior executives, CRM ranked in the bottom three categories among 25 popular tools evaluated for customer satisfaction. The findings of a poll of 100 SME organisations with CRM implementations revealed that while 60% of sales directors insist that CRM is fundamental to their sales processes, a quarter have lost customers directly through their ineffective use of CRM technology”.
My conclusion for the sole practitioner: Better organization of business information would help any professional in any occupation but CRM platforms are “overkill”.
Now I am focused on bringing a practical working solution into a Microsoft Office 365 platform. It shouldn’t be so difficult yet I find little evidence that this has been done successfully by others already. The goals are relatively simple:
- A system that is Outlook contact-centric but links to other documents
- Cloud-based and available across platforms
- Allows for occasional sharing of specific items as needed (but not full time team access or collaboration)
- Record details of interactions for easy retrieval later
- Allow for easy future calendar prompts that link to the contact and the prior tasks/notes
- Incorporates a financial planning “fact finder” that is easy to access as a core component
- Does not require launching another program just to see basic information
- Does not slow down basic Outlook functionality
- Does not involve another monthly fee (I have enough of those already)
I am now using Pipedrive and am pleased with it. It is more sales management than client management but it turns out to be exactly what I need.