Essay: Software Development Plan for CRM System

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Software Development Project of a New CRM System

Requirements Analysis

Describe how you would conduct a requirements analysis exercise for your project. You should, at the very least, include the interaction that you expect with the customer, the management and allocation of staff, and the expected timetable for you project.

Managing customer relationships is critically important to the stability and long-term growth of any business. Being able to provide sales, service, product management, marketing and senior management with a full, 360-degbree review of all customer activity is essential for keeping any business tightly synchronized around customer needs and requirements. In defining the strategy that will used for completing the requirements analysis, the clients' strategic plans, goals and requirements need to be taken into account first. This will be completed using a series of interviews with the clients, where business analysts and programmers from the development team will be included. It is also imperative to understand the specific application requirements of the client, and to do this, user cases and software requirement specifications, in addition to joint requirements must be defined. The requirements analysis phase of any large-scale project must also have periodic measurements of performance including analytics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure overall progress relative to the project goal.

The Requirements Analysis for a new CRM system needs to encompass stakeholder identification, stakeholder interviews, Joint Requirements Development (JRD) planning and feedback sessions, definition of and finalization of specific CRM and analytics application use case requirements, definition of when prototypes by phase will be available and stakeholder requirements analysis. Integral to the development of any CRM system is also the inclusion of sales and marketing teams, who will have highly specific needs with regards to analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) reporting. The development team will need to concentrate on BI use case analysis thoroughly to ensure the final CRM system will meet and exceed clients' expectations (Choudhury, Harrigan, 2014). The requirements analysis will need to develop a specific approach to defining taxonomies for capturing stakeholder, engineering & developer and lessons learned from previous implementations as well. Assumptions regarding budget for new application development and the costs of legacy data system integration and data migration are also captured during this initial phase. Costs and project plans are defined during the Requirements Analysis phase.

Phase I: Stakeholder Identification, Interviews and Requirements Analysis

The scope of software projects often grows in direct proportion to the number of stakeholders involved and the uniqueness of their needs, compounded by how each stakeholder often perceives time-to-value of specific features differently. For CRM systems this is particularly challenging in that each stakeholder group starting with sales and progressing through marketing, product management, services, support and senior management each have unique information and reporting requirements. The best managed CRM software development projects take into account this multiplicity of information requirements and create a series of stakeholder interviews to ensure overall alignment of the project plan, specifications and ongoing coding to customer needs and requirements (Ko, Kim, Kim, Woo, 2008). For purposes of this project, the following table defines the key stakeholders, an explanation of their unique requirements, and a timetable of interviews with each. Of this group of stakeholders, sales and sales management will be using the customer records activity features the most, with senior management using the analytics and rolled-up sales forecasts most often. This requirements analysis will in turn drive the use case planning, goals of project development, use cases and ultimately the Functional Requirements Document (FRD) that will define the parameters of the next phase, Software Design.

Figure 1: Stakeholder's Goals And Use Case Analysis and Interview Timetable

Stakeholder

Use Case Goals and Requirements

Interview Timetable

Information Systems

Administration; support for backups; platform requirements (cloud-based vs. On premise); maintenance cost strategies; testing assistance

Marketing

Marketing program management; analytics and metrics of performance on marketing and selling programs; direct mail and content-based marketing initiatives; support for customer upsell and cross-sell analytics; sales funnel analytics.

Pricing

Elasticity of demand analysis; price sensitivity and pricing scenario analysis; testing of new product ideas and concepts using CRM system as a platform for doing test/re-test analysis.

Product Management

Feedback from customers on existing product designs and areas of improvement; analysis of failure data to see where the clients' products can be improved; support for coordinating sales calls; testing new products.

Sales & Sales Management

360 degree view of all customer activity; lead scoring feedback; sales force automation.

Services

Pricing analysis on current and future services.

Senior Management

Funnel analysis and key performance indicator performance reporting on dashboards (to their mobile devices).

Phase 2: Defining A Technology Platform That Can Support Use Cases

With the specific goals and objectives defined by each stakeholder group, the project team next will determine if a cloud-based vs. on-premise-based suite of applications is best for the client. Cloud-based applications are more difficult to produce yet can be quickly delivered to sales' teams mobile devices while also being more efficient and cost-effective in maintain. In addition to these benefits, Cloud-based CRM systems can be quickly modified to reflect the client's unique requirements (Choudhury, Harrigan, 2014).

As the clients' sales teams are often traveling and don't have immediate access to customer, sales, pricing and service data, it is highly recommended that the client select a Cloud-based development strategy. Throughout the stakeholder analysis and use case interviews, the following factors will be evaluated to verify that the development of a cloud-based CRM application is in the best interests of the client.

Phase 2.a. Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise-Based Decision Factors

The following are the key decision factors the client needs to take into account during the requirements analysis phase of development pertaining to the selection of a cloud vs. on-premise CRM application:

1. Mobility Access and Support for Dynamic Site User Experience. It is highly recommended that the client consider the needs of their sales team's access on mobile devices, and define one of the design objectives as providing a dynamic CRM application capable of just as easily working on a mobile device as on a laptop or traditional PC. A cloud-based system will allow for this level of device agility and flexibility while an on-premise application require customized programming for each specific device (Kim, Mukhopadhyay, 2011).

2. Need for real-time collaboration across the entire sales team and partners while ensuring all reporting and traffic stays in compliance with internal customer requirements.

3. Extent of integration with legacy, 3rd party and proprietary systems the client has acquired over time yet each playing a crucial role in the selling cycles in process and planned for the future. Custom system integration to new on-premise systems is often done with unique connectors and adapters that can cost between $40,000 to $50,000 each to create and maintain (Adebanjo, 2003). It is highly recommended that if the client has legacy, 3rd party and proprietary systems that they will be integrating to with the proposed CRM system that the decision is made to select a cloud-based platform that includes Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) that significantly streamline the time and costs involved in integrating existing systems.

4. More effective, globally scalable security models are available on cloud platforms (including Salesforce1) versus on-premise systems that often lack security standards and stability. It makes more sense for the client to select a cloud platform that enables immediate scalability and is built on a security model that includes single sign-on and the ability to manage workflows at the administration level more effectively (Light, 2003). The Salesforce1 platform is in compliance with FISMA, SSAE 16 (formerly SAS 70), ISO 27001, PCI-DSS Level 1, Safe Harbor & TRUSTe standards) and SSL 128-bit VeriSign transmission level security.

It is highly recommended that the client choose to have their CRM application cloud-based, built on the Salesforce1 platform, enabling greater agility, scalability and performance.

2. Software Design

Describe the process of software design. If alternative design methodologies are available to you then you should describe how you select between them; if you expect the system to be customer-facing, then you should give some consideration to interface design; you should also consider how you plan to ensure the quality of the output.

Based on a successful series of interviews and validation from the client that a cloud-based CRM system is in their best interest, a Functional Requirements Document (FRD) is produced and used as the foundation of this phase of development. The FRD includes all use cases, data requirements on specific reports, systems that need to be integrated with, and in-depth analysis of what specific workflows are most essential for the success of business strategies they system is being designed to support. The FRD and ongoing discussions with the clients will be used to define the four areas of software design that include architecture, components, data and interface design (Xu, Walton, 2005).

2.1. Software Design Functional Workflow

The software design will be function-oriented and designed to provide an integrated, seamless user experience as the clients' teams work between customer records, analytics, Business Intelligence (BI) and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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