Chronicles of Cloud Computing: Moving CRM to the Cloud

We’ve been talking a lot about cloud computing here at ThinkGig and we’d like to share an example of how we are moving to the cloud with our implementation.

It begins with the classic story. The Software as a Service (SaaS) implementation replaces a homegrown funnel management system whose performance had been steadily degrading. Managers lacked visibility into the sales cycle and tools for coaching. Users wanted the ability to manage customers from a Smartphone without losing performance. The tool wasn’t able to scale up quickly as the user base grew and changes to the application took longer than we’d like.

What are the benefits we found by moving to the cloud?

  • Shorter implementation cycle. The Salesforce automation (SFA) project got underway in May 2010. In six months, the team did analysis, design, configuration, training development and delivery, testing and deployment. Based on our estimates, that’s at least a 50 percent improvement.
  • Faster change management. The cloud-based app enables changes to be made incrementally, and managed on the sales operations side, making the business more self-reliant.
  • Better sales productivity. In trials, salespeople saved hours every month in admin time. Instead of creating reports, salespeople could spend more time in front of customers.
  • Better tools, better data. The Miller-Heiman sales methodology we use at Qwest is integrated into and managers have more visibility into the cycle.

We asked the team that led this project what advice they’d offer to other enterprises making the switch:

  • Start small. Don’t try and solve all of your issues in one shot. The crawl-run-walk philosophy of implementing programs definitely applies to a cloud-based solution. Take advantage of small quick wins and build on those early successes.
  • Don’t bend the app to your will. Resist the temptation to over-customize SaaS apps. Look at your existing business processes, make sure they’re rational and deploy the application to support them.
  • Remember the Spiderman Paradox: With great power comes great responsibility. Just because a cloud app can be flexible doesn’t mean you can avoid good processes, good oversight and disciplined business governance.

The best testimonial of all happened at the end of the user trials. Once the benefit statement was proved, managers looked to shut down the trial environment – but nobody wanted to stop using the application.

Have you moved your sales force automation or CRM solution to the cloud? What are the benefits you’ve experienced?

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  1. Ryan Draayer

    If a Sales Professional could have this discussion with a customer and touch on these points, customers would see tremendous value in keeping us close to them through the changes coming in the industry as a trusted advisor.