Many companies that have a CRM system that was implemented in, say, 2006 or earlier, are finding themselves “stuck” in an older version of their CRM vendor’s software, even though their CRM vendor has released several major, new versions since the initial CRM implementation.
Why are these companies stuck? First, the effort to upgrade from a time and logistical perspective would be very costly and would overwhelm internal resources that are already stretched thin. Second, with multiple departments and with users in different locations using the CRM system, a full system upgrade could have significant risks associated with it due to the possibility of major disruptions to one or more departments or groups of users.
Another cost and associated risk factor is the fact that there are multiple integration touch points to legacy systems that would break with an upgrade.
The Alternative to Upgrading CRM: Re-Implementation
If the choice is made to stay with the same CRM vendor, it may well make more sense to re-implement CRM with the vendor’s current release. There are multiple benefits to this approach:
1. Saving on the time and cost of upgrading from version A to version B just to get to version C. For most CRM vendors, there is no direct migration path from version A to version C.
2. Migrating one department at a time to the most current release to avoid significant disruptions for any one department. In some cases, it may make sense for a department to stay on the legacy implementation for an extended period of time.
3. Getting a clean start on user interface design and on data. This will be a major benefit if the current CRM implementation has runaway views, fields and pick list values — or if there are a lot of duplicate records.
4. Redeveloping legacy system integrations using current tools and technologies. Existing integrations may have been built with currently unsupported versions of ETL software. Integrations may have been cobbled together by a technical resource who is no longer with the company.
Of course, data will need to be migrated from the old system to the new system. However, much of the system to system data mapping will be relatively straightforward, as the overall structure as well as field names and types will match up fairly closely from the older version to the new version.
In the face of these two options, it’s not uncommon for alternative CRM vendors to be considered as a third option.