5 Reasons Companies Upgrade Their Old CRM System (Instead of Buying a New One)

CRM UpgradeMany companies choose to perform a CRM upgrade of their existing, legacy contact manager or CRM system rather than switching to a new system.

The upgrade of an existing system is sometimes needed to support newer versions of operating systems and office suites.  Companies also upgrade in order to take advantage of new features and functionality provided by the vendor.

A CRM Upgrade vs. a New CRM Solution

On the other hand, moving to a new CRM system can actually mean the end of sometimes costly upgrades, as multi-tenant, hosted solutions are transparently upgraded in background by their vendors.

For companies that are currently using a client/server solution, a new CRM system means easier, browser-based access, which eliminates a lot of IT support time.  Finally, the more robust database functionality of newer CRM systems can allow for managing business processes more efficiently and even incorporating more business process automation into the CRM realm.

Still, many companies choose to stay with their existing contact manager or CRM system.  Here are five reasons why.


Even if end users aren’t fully enamored with the current system, they are trained on it and are used to how it works.  The administrator knows how to manage the application and support users.  A CRM upgrade means staying with familiar functionality, whereas there are unknowns with moving to a new system.  For a new CRM system, there’s both training and change management to consider.

Lack of Research Time

Many people involved with CRM decisions may simply not take the time from their busy workday to look into alternatives to their current system.  With a lot of time pressures in today’s corporate environment, staying with the existing system is often perceived as the easier decision.  The CRM buying process takes time and effort.

Existing Integrations

When a contact manager or CRM system has been in place for many years, it may have one or more integrations to legacy systems. It may also be tied with a number of third party tools, such as quotation software. Switching to a new system usually means rebuilding those integrations and/or finding substitutes for add-on products that work in conjunction with the legacy system.

New Subscription or Software Costs

There’s usually a higher short term cost to switching to a new CRM system rather than staying with an existing contact manager or CRM solution. While the only licensing cost for an existing system may be an annual software maintenance and technical support fee, moving to a new system may mean a higher, annual fee or an upfront cost for purchased software.

Data Migration

Performing a CRM upgrade vs. changing to a new system means that there’s no data to migrate.  An upgrade is mainly at the application level — the data structure stays more or less the same, with the exception of some added system tables and fields.  Migrating data to a new CRM system can be one of the more expensive pieces of switching, as data needs to be cleaned up, transformed and often normalized.

Potential Downsides to a CRM Upgrade

Sometimes upgrades can be expensive, yet provide only small incremental improvements — despite expectations that the upgrade will add a lot of new functionality.  There can even be cases in which an upgrade actually creates more problems than it solves.

With a client/server solution, there’s likely to be another upgrade needed a couple of years out.  So, an upgrade today may be just “kicking the can down the road”.

The biggest downside to a CRM upgrade may actually be the opportunity cost of not moving to a system that can provide significant additional business benefit.  It’s often worth the time for management to at least gain a general understanding of what a new system can do for their organization.

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