Rarely does a week go by that we don’t hear from someone whose company is using a legacy system for CRM.
In many cases, there have been hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in the system over the years. There can be multiple integrations with other legacy systems.
A common problem with a legacy system is that sales user adoption is low. We often hear, “our salespeople enter their opportunities into CRM — but that’s about it.”
On the other hand, the legacy CRM system may still be seeing acceptable levels of adoption in areas such as customer service.
Executives don’t always eagerly support the idea of replacing software that has had so much time and money put into it and that still has value in some areas.
Legacy System Definition
When it comes to CRM, what is a legacy system?
A legacy system often based on an in-house client-server model. The database is running on an in-house on SQL Server or Oracle. There are one or more separate Windows 2000 or 2003 application servers. Users access the system using a locally installed Windows desktop client. Remote access is via a VPN login and a Citrix remote desktop session.
A legacy CRM system can also be an early generation browser-based system that is running on in-house servers. These systems are easier to maintain and access than those in the above category, as no desktop software is required (except for email and Office integration plugins). However, these systems may rely on dated browser versions such as Internet Explorer 6.
Either one of these can require an expensive upgrade to support contemporary version databases, operating systems, browsers and email clients.
Even with an upgrade, these systems may not offer integrations with third party applications such as marketing technologies. There still may be not be a fully functional mobile offering after an upgrade is performed.
Another type of legacy system is one that was developed in-house. While “homegrown” systems are highly tailored to the business, they can lack in third party interfaces such as email client integrations. Application updates may rely the availability of a single developer, which presents a significant risk.
The Tipping Point
Because of the aforementioned executive resistance to replacement, a legacy system can limp along for years — at least from the perspective of the sales team.
A common workaround for an underserved sales organization is for a sales manager to go below radar and sign up for a subscription with one of the many contemporary CRM vendors.
However, when a CRM system does not have executive sponsorship or a project plan, it can become a silo of information that no other systems connect to.
Eventually, this creates a need for everyone to step back and take a look at the organization’s overall CRM strategy.
A strategic approach involves getting input from stakeholders who have an interest in what CRM can do for their part of the business. This is the first step of a series of steps in a structured CRM planning and selection process.
Only then can the forgotten sales teams effectively get beyond the constraints of a legacy system and be given access to a system that they will use and that is connected to other parts of the business.