CRM software is a great way to manage all of your customers’ contact information and business interactions in one place.
Cloud-based CRM has grown more popular than ever before. This is where data is hosted on the CRM company’s servers rather than your own (on-premise). Of these two CRM options, it’s important to know which is best for your company. We will first look into what a web-based CRM is and then address the benefits of cloud-based CRM over on-premise.
What is web-based CRM?
Web or cloud-based CRM is a software solution where there is no hardware or software located on the customer’s premises. Instead, the software is hosted on a range of data center servers managed by a third party. The CRM application itself is accessed through a web interface and not installed on local PCs or laptops. The service is charged on a monthly or annual rental fee based on the number of users on the system.
Most web-based CRM systems offer significant cost savings over on-premise solutions, however, not all providers offer the same functionality. It is important that the CRM solution you choose is equipped to handle your specific business needs and can be easily adapted without costly consultancy or implementation fees.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of web-based CRM software.
1. Access from any internet-enabled device
The data contained in a CRM is only as good as the information input by its users — so an effective solution must be implemented and adopted by as many members of staff as possible.
But with the rise of remote working, it’s more common than ever for sales teams to be on the road or dispersed across the country. And while this geographic freedom can offer significant benefits to a business, it’s a concern as far as sharing information in a CRM solution.
Traditionally, mobile or home-based workers have to wait until they are either connected via a VPN or back in the office to update the database. This could take anywhere between a few days or a few weeks, meaning the database would rarely be up to date. However, with web-based CRM systems, users can access and upload to the CRM via any device that can access the web, supporting easy accessibility and high uptake among the workforce.
2. Removal of initial hardware requirements
Because the total solution is based in the cloud, web-based CRM software demands no hardware or software licences. This is a massive saving on the cost of new equipment, installation, and support — and for many businesses, it’s the main driver for opting for an online solution.
As an added benefit, this also eradicates any lengthy discussions between the software supplier and hardware vendor, and removes the risk of finger-pointing when it comes to support, which on-premise solutions are especially prone to.
3. No IT costs
Many small or medium-sized businesses lack a dedicated IT team. Roles for IT security, procurement and support are often undertaken by the existing staff, who may have limited IT skills and more important things to do. Thankfully, this becomes a thing of the past with web-based CRM systems.
When businesses do choose on-premise solutions, on the other hand, any implementation, maintenance and support processes may have to be outsourced — which can add significant costs and inconvenience.
4. Fast implementation
Because online CRM solutions require no hardware or software to be installed, it takes a much smaller amount of time to implement and go live. When you choose a web-based CRM system, there’s no downtime spent waiting for equipment to be delivered or for a seller to configure it.
However, there will be some application configuration necessary to import any existing data and adapt the software solution to meet your business needs.
5. Fault tolerance without doubling the budget
CRM is a critical business solution and therefore needs to be available at all times. Under traditional server-based solutions, this means duplicating the hardware (and often software) in case the primary server fails. This increases the initial costs, doubles ongoing maintenance costs, and greatly impacts the overall financial resources tied up by implementation.
With a web-based CRM system, your uptime relies primarily on the CRM provider’s architecture instead of your local systems. This means there are fewer disruptions likely and no further resources are required to safeguard against these disruptions.
6. No upfront capital outlay
As outlined above, there are no requirements for hardware or software when using web-based CRM. As a result, all of the expenditure you incur is based on a yearly service charge.
These charges can be assigned as operational costs and are not subject to depreciation.
7. Real-time hardware and software upgrades
When deploying an on-premise solution, one worry is ensuring that the software is the latest version and you continue to keep it upgraded. But once upgraded, you could find that your hardware is too slow, and you need to upgrade or replace that too.
Keeping your software up to date is especially important if you need to contact the software support team to resolve issues. With a web-based CRM solution, however, it’s all part of the service. The solution provider undertakes upgrades to both hardware and software without the need for your involvement and at no cost to you.
Plus, there are no concerns about which version of the CRM software you have, so any support issues can be more quickly resolved.
8. Automatic data backup
As data is the most important part of your CRM system, it’s vital to make regular backups. The frequency of these is partially dependent on the amount of new or changed information added to the system.
However, it’s good business practice for data to be backed up at least twice a week — and perhaps even daily. With on-premise CRM, unless you invest in an automated solution, this can be a laborious task. On the other hand, web-based CRM systems back up automatically without user intervention. This ensures the integrity of your data and takes the administrative burden off of your team to ensure data is stored securely.
9. Flexible licensing to make adding users easy
As many of the users of a CRM system will be remote, it can become an arduous task to add new users using an on-premise solution. If the user is not IT literate, this could mean that they would have to visit the office to have the software transferred to their system.
Using Workbooks web-based CRM solution, adding users is as easy as a few clicks for the administrator, which takes minutes. The new user can then log on to the system wherever they are, from any device that has internet access.
10. Customize your CRM platform as needed
There are plenty of web-based CRM solutions on the market, but few offer the functionality of Workbooks.
Our CRM is a feature-rich, web-based Customer Relationship Management system. It is user-customizable to ensure that it works the way your business works. Many of the fields can be changed or new fields added, and it offers a flexible and detailed reporting system, user-defined views, and an in-built dashboard facility. This is a powerful tool to manage your prospects, customers, marketing campaigns and support cases.
To extend the functionality of Workbooks CRM, we have developed Workbooks Business, allowing you to create customer and supplier orders as well as invoicing from a quote generated within Workbooks CRM. This application shares data with Workbooks CRM and provides a more complete view of transactions from marketing to successful sales.
Workbooks Business eliminates the need for data migration and costly configuration, and can be implemented in a few days, while adding this functionality using PC-based packages to existing CRM systems can take weeks of complex data manipulation. Workbooks Business is also a web-based application and reflects all of the benefits above.
It’s clear that for most small-to-medium-sized businesses, web-based CRM is by far the most cost-effective solution, especially in the absence of experienced in-house IT support.
Nearly all web-based CRM solutions can handle contact management, lead management and sales management, and that may meet your requirements — but once you’ve chosen a solution, you are committed. Be sure you have all the flexibility and functions your business requires now and in the future, as it’s an expensive exercise to change to a new system in 9-12 months if it no longer meets your expanding needs.
Think about future functionality that could be expensive to add later:
True relationship management allowing people, organizations and activities to be associated with each other without strict contact/account rules
Email marketing with full tracking capability
Contract management for contract renewals
Support management for handling support cases
Integrating accounting functionality to centralize data between applications
It should also be noted that there are some software configuration costs that will be similar if you choose either a web-based or on-premise CRM.
These costs are the time and effort it will take to:
Export and import current data into your new CRM system
Manipulate the fields and reports to reflect the way your business works
Train your staff on how to use the new system
Ongoing adoption and increased functionality
Workbooks have over 20 man-years of delivering online software solutions, and extensive experience of using competitor CRM solutions. We understand the needs and the pains of running a small-to-medium-sized business and started Workbooks CRM and Workbooks Business with you in mind.
To get started with Workbooks, book a demo with a member of the team today.
About the Author: John Cheney
A Software-as-a-Service pioneer, John Cheney launched one of the first SaaS companies back in the late 1990s. He is a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the IT industry; 20 of which were spent running IT companies across Europe and North America.