Study: Prebuilt Is Best for Hosted Vertical Solutions

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Prebuilt solutions are the best choice when selecting a hosted vertical CRM solution, according to a report by Beagle Research Group, Boston, a consulting and market research organization focused on emerging technologies.


The report said the ease of deployment of generic hosted CRM solutions has been confused with the issue of customization.


"The ability to quickly deploy a generic hosted CRM solution is not the same as the ability to deploy a highly tailored solution for a vertical market," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group and the author of the study. "When you begin to assess the need for business analysis and application design and customization, you realize that customizing a generic hosted application can be just as risk prone, costly and time consuming as it is when software is delivered in a traditional format."


The study addresses three areas to consider in customizing a generic hosted CRM application to make it useful in a vertical market: the user interface; database; and process logic.


"Most hosted CRM solutions do a good job of enabling users to change the user interface," Pombriant said. "There are varying degrees of support for database and process changes, but more importantly, even with great tools, you still need to do the upfront analysis and design."


The study reports some users' estimates that the analysis and design work to customize a generic hosted CRM application for vertical markets could take four to six months and cost up to $600,000.


The report concludes that avoiding custom analysis, design and development is the lowest-risk approach to vertical market CRM.


"That typically means starting with a vertical market solution that has as many of your key requirements already built-in as possible," Pombriant said. "If you can find a solution that has 80 or 90 percent of your needs already accounted for, you will be ahead of the game and you will be on track to getting your application right the first time."


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