The choice of a suitable customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a bit of a challenge for any business. Here, the final decision depends on the specific requirements and special needs. In this context, the flexible use of a solution is of crucial importance in order not to get into long-term contracts and high investment costs. This INSIGHTS report provides an overview of the cloud CRM solution of TecArt GmbH from Erfurt, Germany, shows the functions and what benefits a company receives.
Despite its history, the importance of the customer relationship management (CRM) is steadily increasing in companies. Without the consistent focus on its customers and the unconditional design of necessary processes, a company is no longer competitive today. Only with a holistic and cross-enterprise relationship marketing the cooperation between a company and its customers can be long-term oriented and strengthened, what has decisive impact on the current and future success. For this, the different departments, such as marketing, sales, customer service, and also the research and development must be integrated into the processes.
On the one hand the comprehensive integration of these departments is organizational not always easy to implement, on the other hand an appropriate IT solution must be found, which meets the requirements of the company almost perfect. For that massive investments in on-premise systems have been made in the past, leading to long-term, inflexible licensing costs. In times of cloud computing respectively of software-as-a-service (SaaS), it is not necessary to commit to long-term provider contracts. Instead, the solution is charged per user and ideally per month, making the monthly or annual cost / benefit ratio more transparent.
It should be noted that the advantage of the flexibility of a SaaS solution is not to have the opportunity to switch a provider annually or even semi-annually. Despite SaaS, a business plans in a long-term. The cost and effort of constantly evaluating a new provider and migrate afterwards, bears no relation to the actual benefit. In some cases, this may be considered if the satisfaction with the vendor decreases. The actual flexibility advantage of SaaS is the scalability in terms of monthly usage per user and functionality. This means that a company can better respond to its monthly requirements by including flexibly respond to employee turnover. This allows for improved planning with seasonal workers, for which usually a certain number of licenses for this period has been purchased in advance and which are no longer needed after the application and turned to dead capital. Using a SaaS solution, the number of required users can be increased for a given month and decreased again. This makes it possible to better plan for the future.
This also applies to a SaaS CRM system, which is much more about than just a database of customer information. In particular, the emerging market of mobile collaboration enables sales representatives to always access current live data and to edit it at the same extent. Moreover, the amount for further services should be taken into consideration. This has the background that current SaaS CRM solutions on the market promise an integration with other external SaaS offerings, for example e-mail services, but are sub-optimal implemented. In this context, among other aspects, it is also important to look on the availability of interfaces to connect the CRM solution with existing systems.
The market for CRM systems from the cloud has grown rapidly in recent years. Led by Salesforce the solutions for customer relationship management have evolved from on-premise installation to web-based cloud solutions. The variety of SaaS CRMs address, depending on the functionality and scope of services, different target groups. From the large corporation, over the medium-sized company up to the freelancer, the market offers a wide range of different systems for the web-based customer relationship management.
The TecArt GmbH from Erfurt, Germany, focuses their TecArt-CRM to medium-sized and larger companies. Apart from a complete web-based solution, the company also offers its software for the on-premise installation in an own data center. The current advantage businesses reach only with the use of the cloud-based solution TecArt-CRM Mobile which this INSIGHTS report describes.
Holistic modules for flexible use
TecArt-CRM Mobile is designed for small and medium-sized businesses who actually do not have a full-time IT department and therefore no powerful IT infrastructure, but also want the advantage of multiple locations.
Six main modules, including services for the management of e-mails, contacts, appointments, tasks, and documents that form the core of the SaaS application and belong to the standard scope of the CRM system. For a fixed monthly fee per user, 5 GB of storage for each user is included as well, which can be increased at an extra cost if required. Hosting, maintenance of the system and the daily backup of the data is assumed by TecArt GmbH.
One of the great strengths of TecArt-CRM Mobile is the ability to expand the base system, as required by additional modules per month and to cancel again. With that companies receive a very flexible access to more value-added services to customize the CRM system according to their requirements. These useful services include inter alia a project management, supply management, contract management or resource planning.
Mobile cloud allows access from any place
Besides the web-based access TecArt-CRM Mobile also allows to retrieve and manipulate the data in the CRM system via mobile. For this, the major mobile operating systems iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry, but also older systems such as Windows Mobile and Symbian are supported for mobile synchronization.
For the mobile synchronization of information TecArt GmbH has developed the service „TecArt-Push“ that extends the browser-based cloud solution TecArt-CRM with a push function. This is comparable with the solutions as known from Google Apps and Apple iCloud. Besides a CRM system companies also receive a full-fledged mobile groupware for different devices to access emails, contacts, appointments and tasks that are automatically synchronized with TecArt-CRM.
And even field worker get the valuable opportunity to access information on the go and both collect and edit data such as emails, calendars, contacts etcetera.
In addition to the synchronization of data the „TecArt-CRM web app“ also allows access to further data and information from other services in the backend of the CRM system via a mobile Internet connection. This means that among others also documents, tickets, projects, contracts and offerings can be accessed. Using an integrated geolocation service contacts can also be find in the immediate vicinity of the current location.
Cooperation with cloud marketplaces to increase the reach
Cloud marketplaces belong to the future of cloud computing and are a logical development to enable enterprises and developers a good overview and easy access to IT resources. In addition, there are also less good cloud applications on the market that offer either no real value, are not well thought out or have a poor architecture and are therefore also not well safety implemented. Thus, cloud marketplaces help to separate potential top applications from rather insignificant services and provide decision support for the selection. This is firstly ensured by the marketplace provider itself, and also through an evaluation system, through which the users can post comments and ratings. In addition, cloud marketplaces clean up and summarize the different cloud offers thematically. They form an independent ecosystem of cloud services.
Cloud marketplaces can also help young companies to increase their visibility and reach. But even for established companies that start with cloud services, opportunities arise to present themselves to a wide audience and to prove transparently to the existing competition.
This is also part of the TecArt GmbH strategy, which closed collaborations with two cloud marketplaces for their TecArt-CRM Mobile offering, the Telekom Business Marketplace and the Fujitsu Cloud Store. In particular, the inclusion criteria of the Business Marketplace by Deutsche Telekom are very high and have high requirements in terms of architecture and security of the cloud application, which will be reviewed with audits. Since the Deutsche Telekom focuses on quality rather than quantity, the inclusion of TecArt-CRM Mobile is a very positive sign.
Additional APIs and software simplify integration
Good cloud applications are characterized by their transparency, openness and the associated interfaces (APIs Application Programming Interface) that can be integrated with existing software solutions or which extends the applications themselves.
This also TecArt has understand and offers in addition to the core modules and the advanced services other features and software to enhance the TecArt-CRM product line. Among others with this a synchronization with Outlook via additional software can be established or the integration with a PBX is realized. Furthermore, the range of proprietary web services for enterprise developers is very interesting to also bind existing software solutions like enterprise resource planning, time-recording system or their own website to TecArt-CRM.
Price model: Pay-per-use or on-premise
TecArt-CRM can be used on three different reference models. The traditional on-premise models „Company“ and „Enterprise“ aimed at those who are still conservative and want to take care of hosting and operating their infrastructure themselves. For that TecArt-CRM can be purchased at a fixed price. Here, however, the additional costs for the operation and maintenance of the required IT infrastructure must not be neglected.
The modern way of obtaining IT is offered via TecArt-CRM Mobile. Here a fixed base amount is calculated for various core modules per user per month. Additional modules can be flexibly added per user and are also charged on a monthly basis. The advantage of this solution variant is that TecArt care to 100% of the hosting, operation and maintenance of the necessary IT infrastructure as well as the TecArt-CRM system. A customer only consumes the needed services.
Security and location advantage
The issues of data protection and data security is still strongly debated in the context of the cloud. In particular, in a very sensitive environment such as customer relationship management, in which many personal but also specifically business-critical data are processed, a company shall not decide for any provider. Instead, a provider must be chosen that meets the company’s standards and in particular meets all privacy and data security technology areas.
In the area of data security TecArt uses SSL encryption, to establish a secure connection during the data transmission between the server and the client. Furthermore, the location of the data center is in Germany and is certified according to the ISO security standard 27001. TecArt guarantees an availability of 98% on annual average for its services. Furthermore, the company offers more protection with override security of documents by a personalized versioning and control that ensures the data is always kept in a consistent state. A read-write user-level protection also ensures that only authorized persons have access to modules, objects, and individual documents. In the case of manual deletion by a user each employee has a personal trash. If this is not enough, automatic backups of the system are made daily, which are stored for seven days.
In addition to data security, data protection needs to be considered with a lot of sensitivity. Due to the German headquarters the TecArt GmbH is subject to the European and German data protection law and guarantees that no data will be passed on to U.S. government agencies. Furthermore, TecArt strictly follows the classification level „CONFIDENTIAL“. This means that all data and documents that are being stored and processed in the TecArt cloud services meet the security suitability of the steps for authorities, confidential and sensitive position.
Awards testify to quality
Even if awards are always in direct connection with the jury, they have a tendency for the quality of a solution. If there are more than one award of operating independently and different consortia or associations, a company may proceed with a clear conscience believe that the quality is actually true.
TecArt already won six independent awards. Including the Hosting & Service Provider Award 2013, the title BEST OF 2013 in the category CRM within the Innovationspreis-IT 2013 of the initiative Mittelstand and the Telekom Innovationspreis 2012.
The choice of a suitable customer relationship management solution is a bit of a challenge for any business. The final decision depends on the specific requirements and special needs. In this context, the flexible use of a solution is of crucial importance in order not to get into long-term contracts and high investment costs.
At this point TecArt-CRM launch into and offers beside important core features the ability to expand the system monthly as required by other modules with more specific functions, which gives the users a considerable added value in total.
If the entire TecArt-CRM portfolio is considered, it is not just about a pure CRM solution. With fully integrated functions for the management of e-mails, tasks, appointments, contacts, tasks and other services, TecArt-CRM offers a company much more than a standard system for customer relationship management. TecArt-CRM focuses entirely on the standard processes of a company including synchronization of mobile devices and thus supports any company in its future cloud collaboration. For this reason, the solution is in the proper sense a collaborative CRM, which is, in this case, actually better expressed as an all-in-one business suite from the cloud.
Companies that also want to concentrate on the topic of „Social CRM“ – The use of modern social networks for customer communication. – TecArt-CRM is currently not the right solution. For that the company from Erfurt currently have no functionality in their portfolio.
Furthermore TecArt-CRMs great diversity and modularity is also one of its weaknesses. This is not necessarily a great negative point. Nevertheless, a customer should bring a lot of time for the selection process for the first registration. In addition, during the decision-making process, on which module should already be selected from the start and which not, one can quickly lose the overview. At this point it is clear that a maximum modularity in this case is not always beneficial and prefabricated packages simplify the decision process.
Bottom line, TecArt-CRM is a highly recommended and well-designed CRM system that brings a lot of DNA and approaches for a modern cloud collaboration and can help each company to cooperate better with its customers in the future.