When purchasing a CRM, most people look only at the cost of the software. But software is usually less than half the total cost.  You must recognize the ongoing costs as well to understand the true cost of CRM for your business. Ongoing costs associated with CRM include:

Implementation Costs

These are the costs for the setup, implementation, and training associated with the CRM. For most companies, this cost is equal-to or higher-than the cost of the software itself. These fees can include the cost of hiring consultants to implement the CRM, as well as the cost of training your employees on how to use the system.

Configuration / Customization Costs

If your processes do not exactly fit those in the CRM (they rarely do) you will need to configure, and possibly customize, your CRM.  

CRMs have a series of settings that can be used to change the behavior of the features. Modifying those setting to match your internal processes is called configuration.

If your processes cannot be matched using configuration, then you must customize your CRM. Customization uses tools to create new processes and objects to meet your requirements. For many CRMs, this involves writing custom scripts or codes. Customizing the CRM to meet your specific needs can add to the cost of the system.  These costs will occur at the initial implementation but also as an on-going cost as your business changes. 

Maintenance Costs

CRM systems require regular maintenance to keep them up-to-date and secure. For most SaaS CRM systems, this is included in the monthly fee. It can add to the cost of the system over time as the CRM introduces new features or deprecates old features.

Training Costs

You must train your employees on how to use the CRM. There are multiple types of training that are needed.  End user training helps your everyday employees learn how to use the system.  But in addition, you may need developer training, administrator training, and local admin training (for handling tasks such as adding and removing users, running reports, and building dashboards).  As employees leave and join your team, training will continue to be ongoing. Companies that train only during the initial CRM implementation face adoption issues in the long-term. Training is a necessary, ongoing cost of successful CRM usage. 

Data Migration Costs

 If you are migrating data from an existing system to the CRM, this should be factored into your CRM costs.  The good news is, once your data is migrated, it’s rare that you would need to migrate that data again. 

Hardware Costs 

If you need to purchase new hardware (a more powerful CPU, more memory, more storage, backup devices, etc.) to run the CRM, this adds to the cost of the system.  If you plan to self-host, then consider the cost of the cloud servers in your ongoing costs.

Software Costs

Like hardware costs, you may incur recurring costs for system software such as operating systems or databases.  This is rare for most customers since they choose cloud hosting, but it still needs to be considered.

Support Costs

Support costs come in two flavors: external vendor fees and internal costs for an employee to manage the CRM. Internal support can take about 5 hours/week for an employee at a smaller organization and be a full-time position for a larger organization. For external costs, a basic support plan from a vendor or consultant might look like 12x5 (12 hours per day, 5 days per week) of support with a one day guaranteed response time. Upgraded support plans may offer 7x24x365 (7 days per week, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year) with one hour guaranteed response time. You must choose the support plan that fits your business needs and budget.

Opportunity Costs

 If you are not using the CRM effectively, you may be missing out on opportunities to generate revenue. This is a hidden cost of CRM that should not be overlooked.

When evaluating the cost of CRM, it is important to consider all of these factors. The initial purchase price is just one part of the total cost of ownership. By understanding the true cost of CRM, you can make an informed decision about whether or not the system is right for your business.

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