Customizable CRM

This morning I conducted an interview with a customer (who shall remain anonymous for now) for whom I’m writing a case study about their implementation and use of our product. The initial focus of the conversation was why SugarCRM? The company’s IT director responded to my question with the following answer:

“We operate in a specific market, whose customers have specific needs, and have specific business processes as a result. After mapping those processes and looking at a number of name-brand CRM applications, we realized we needed something customizable. We could have purchased an off-the-shelf application, but we would’ve been hindered almost immediately and throughout the lifecycle of the solution by having to tailor our internal practices around a specific solution. That, versus finding an application that could be tailored around our practices.”

I mention this because yesterday morning I also came across this ecommercetimes.com article about selecting a CRM solution that matches your business’ needs.

Purchase a software solution that molds to your business practices; don’t mold your business practices to fit the software solution. That well-worn piece of guidance has been a part of CRM almost since the beginning, but surprisingly enough, has only begun to leave its indelible mark on vendors within the past few years.

Why, I’m not so sure about, but it’s the main reason why one of the biggest trends by vendors in recent years has been to go vertical, or at least in the on-demand space. Even Salesforce.com, which Benioff so confidently predicted years ago would never provide verticalized offerings of its software, has done so. So has NetSuite and RightNow Technologies.

Which speaks to the beauty of SugarCRM, and more to the point, the open source model. I’m not going to pull a “Benioff” and say we’ll never offer a industry-specific version of Sugar Enterprise or Professional (it’s why I’m not the CEO), but I will say it’s why customers, such as the one referenced above, select our solution over others…because we don’t need to.