CRM or Excel: What is best for your company size?

CRM better than Excel

As a small business using Microsoft Excel to manage your lead and customer data, was probably the best decision at the time. However, as a business and customer base grows, managing contact and customer records on excel can be a nightmare.

Business owners who fear change argue that excel still serves the purpose as far as proper record management standards are maintained. Yet, Excel is prone to data loss and corruption. Unwitting Employees can accidentally delete critical data which can be disastrous for growing companies.

Microsoft Excel is an amazing tool with interesting easy to use features.  However in the ‘Age of Customer’, it is definitely not the best tool for managing leads, contact or customer data. Organisations interested in streamlining sales, marketing, business development and customer service functions cannot survive with Excel alone.

Indicators an organisation has outgrown Excel

So when is the right time for businesses to make the switch to a customer relationship management (CRM) platform? Let’s look at the top 6 indicators that an organisation has outgrown the familiar Excel program.

1. Decentralised data/Information silos

Maintaining a central hub of information is critical for effective business operations. Maintaining information within Excel leads to individual and decentralised information silos.  These create knowledge sharing gaps and adversely affect bottom line profits. Providing staff access to a single source of centralised information, empowers them to efficiently communicate with customers and bank on selling opportunities. If managing data in Excel is not empowering employees then it is time to look at implementing a CRM solution.

2. Securing Intellectual Data

Efficiently securing intellectual and sensitive information is a crucial step in safeguarding businesses from data theft. Companies may feel secure adding worksheet and workbook password-based protection or hiding cells with sensitive data.  However, these measures provide only first level defence and are fairly easy to break.

A read-only or protected Excel view, cannot prevent users from copying data and formulae and pasting it into another Excel worksheet. Organisations fail to understand that the workbook protection function in Excel is a ‘secure display’ feature not a security feature. Hence, relying on these methods is the equivalent of laying out your confidential information on the company noticeboard.  If you have experienced instances or near-misses of data theft, then it is time to consider an enhanced reporting platform such as CRM.

Excel limitations
3. Reporting and analytics

Organisations need to regularly track their progress and measure successes. When businesses find measuring sales forecasts, campaign effectiveness, customer acquisitions to be time-consuming and cumbersome with Excel; it is an indicator that the company now needs a CRM system.

4. Growth and scalability

In the ‘Age of Customer’, businesses need to understand what makes customers happy if they wish to grow. If you are unable to predict customer behaviour and are missing out on opportunities to up sell or cross-sell products or worst losing business due to lack of timely follow-up as all the data is maintained in Excel, then it is time you start shopping for a CRM system.

5. Manual record management process

With Excel users find themselves maintaining different versions of same records. This leads to time-consuming process of merging data from different files and reduplication of the merged data. Yet another restriction of Excel is that even though the data is cleansed and consolidated as one major database, only one user can make changes at one time. Co-authoring is a function not yet supported by Excel.

Managing records in Excel requires lot of time. Creating contacts or invoices, updating information, or generating reports all require manual intervention. Any task that requires human intervention is prone to errors and discrepancies.

If businesses are losing time to update records or are facing inconsistencies in their reports, it is an indication that the company has outgrown Excel.

6. Lack of integration

Microsoft Excel is a great and easy to use tool. However, it is very limited in offering integration capabilities with other software packages. The following accounting packages all offer integration:

  • MYOB,
  • Xero, or
  • Quickbooks.

Or, for Email Marketing campaigns there are these:

  • MailChimp,
  • CampaignMonitor, or
  • SurveyMonkey.

Or, ERP technologies like:

  • Sage,
  • SAP, or
  • Netsuite.

Organisations using these software packages need to regularly port information to Excel to maintain up-to-date records.

Lack of automation in Excel means this is likely to cost businesses considerable time and effort. If your business is facing similar situation, it’s about time the company budgeted for a CRM software.

Advantages of CRM

Once organisations make the decision to implement a CRM system, the next step is determining how many users will need CRM access along with the permission level. The focus of the management is about reducing the downtime associated to CRM implementation and training. A smooth transition from initial CRM implementation to user training is critical to the success of CRM adoption.

By implementing a CRM solution companies can expect to:

  • Automate of key operations
  • Easily generate and analyse data trends and campaign outcomes
  • Maintain and access historical data trail
  • Integrate with other software packages
  • Access real time data via one central hub
  • Collaboratively work on records
  • Track and record all customer interactions

CRM systems come with customisation capabilities allowing organisations to tailor the solution to match their unique business goals.  While evaluating CRM systems, organisations should analyse the software against their business objectives as different CRM systems offer different capabilities and are priced accordingly.

Why Choose Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Organisations in the market for an effective CRM solution can be overwhelmed by all the different CRM solutions claiming superiority over others. While most of the reasons are subjective; as stated earlier businesses need to evaluate CRM system with reference to their business objectives.

At Empower IT Solutions we understand choosing a CRM software is major and especially relevant decision, and we have penned some comparative article comparing the leading CRM systems – Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce – check out the complete series here.

For advice on switching to Microsoft Dynamics CRM call 1300 797 888 to speak to one of our friendly CRM consultant about your business environment and requirements.