Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Surado White Paper: Small Print, Big Heart

I suppose it’s petty to complain about the size of the type used in a white paper, but you would think something called “The CEO’s Guide to CRM Success” would recognize that senior managers might struggle with a six point font. Yet somehow that tiny type—presumably chosen to keep the paper small enough for busy readers—fits with the general feel of this document, available here from Surado Solutions (www.surado.com). There is a slightly excessive but sincere and ultimately charming earnestness about the paper, which crams a case study, ten best practices, fifteen key benefits, exhortation for senior management leadership and advice on choosing a system into its three squint-inducing pages. These people may lack a bit of polish, but they are certainly trying as hard as they can. (Did I just call a CRM white paper “charmingly earnest”? I need a vacation, or at least to start reviewing wine.)

There are two specific reasons I’m fond of this paper. The first is that it opens with a proper perspective on CRM: “CRM is first and foremost a strategy and corporate philosophy that puts the customer at the center of business operations so as to increase profits by improving customer acquisition and retention.” The second is that the mini-case study describes a selection process that started with a detailed set of business objectives. That’s exactly the right thing to do, but so many projects start elsewhere and so many vendor white papers don’t try to improve the situation.

Other portions of the paper are equally sound, but somewhat scattershot. The “10 Steps to a Successful CRM Initiative” run from “1. Business executives must ‘own’ CRM projects” through “5. Get expert advice from technologists” to “10. Identify tangible and measurable links to business performance.” All true, but not exactly a comprehensive, step-by-step process. The list of key benefits is similarly random, with something for everybody from Six Sigma fanatics to customer service managers. The section on Choosing a System is the least balanced, focusing mostly on the need for integration. Needless to say, integration is a major selling point of Surado’s product, an on-premise CRM package for small to mid-size businesses. But a little self-promotion is more than forgivable.

In short, you won’t find any brilliant new insights here, but it’s a relatively painless reminder of some important items for your project checklist. If you don’t mind the eye strain.

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