In the first part of “Shopping for Mobile Sales”, I’ve highlighted the main differences between the SAP Mobile Sales solutions. Now that you have a general idea of the applications that are offered, you still need to make a choice, right?
In this second installment of my blog, I will provide some questions that you should ask yourself and the relevant individuals in your organization that will help you make the right choice. These questions are not listed in any particular order and in fact, any single one of them could lead you to pick one solution over the other. They should instead be used as guidance for you to have all the bases covered, so to speak.
1. Who will be the target user group of the Mobile Sales application?
Here we need to find out if our users are senior sales executives that need to have an overview of the large sales opportunities that are ongoing (MSA Online) or are they rough-and-tumble truck drivers that will primarily be taking orders (MSA HH).
2. How rich do we need the functionality to be for our field workers?
There is no better place to find this information than going straight to the potential users. What information are they requesting to have when they are out in the field? What data are they currently recording on paper or “calling in” throughout the day? Which data is most important to have up to date, according to them and perhaps more importantly, the management who they report to? Which CRM Sales business processes need to be extended to the field workers?
Armed with the answers to the above questions, you can refer to the Shopping for Mobile Sales which highlights the offered functionality of the three CRM Mobile Sales solutions. But, let’s say none of them meet your requirement completely. That is ok too and more often than not, customers end up customizing or enhancing the standard applications to meet their specific business needs. The key here will be to identify the gaps and estimate the effort required to tailor each solution to your specific business requirements.
3. What type of device makes sense for my users?
The answer to this question may very well prove to be the deciding factor for your organization. In the end, if the users are not comfortable or find the device cumbersome to use, they will simply refuse to use it. It certainly would be great to give everyone laptops, which offer the best hardware performance and the richest functionality. But in some cases, the small pocket size form factor of a handheld is preferred if not necessary. Other things to consider may be the need of a camera built into a device to capture a store display case for example or perhaps a bar code scanner may be needed to speed up the order taking process.
Perhaps some users in your organization are already equipped with email/phone devices and are comfortable in using them. In this case, it may make sense to leverage this installed base. This would save you money in hardware costs as well as time in training to get the users comfortable.
Whatever your device preference may end up being, do not underestimate the user involvement in making this choice. Make sure to involve the end users early in this process and continually gather feedback, ideally by providing them hands on sessions where they can play with the devices.
4. How connected will the users really be?
Yes, this comes down to the online vs. offline application choice. If in your research you discover that your users are often requiring access to CRM data where no live connection is available (no/low coverage areas, buildings that restrict connectivity), you will need to eliminate Mobile Sales Online from your list.
Another aspect to consider is network speed and its relation to the data volume that you estimate. If the users end up waiting for several minutes to get results from a huge search query, then it might make sense to go for an offline solution (MSA HH and Laptop) instead, which have their own local databases.
5. How large is the data volume that is required for the field workers?
Here we need to consider both the initial data load (master data like business partners and products) as well as day-to-day data needs (transactional data like sales orders and their line items and activities). How often does the master data change and require an update to be sent to the devices? How many transactions are executed by the field reps and subsequently sent for processing?
In the end it’s a game of numbers and kilobytes. There are quick sizer tools available to assist you in this process.
Another important consideration on the topic of data volume is the number of users that you will have and subsequently the number of synchronization per hour that are expected. The last thing anybody wants is 1000 users attempting to synchronize with CRM with heavy transactions all at the same and as a result bogging down your CRM Call Center. Stress testing and hardware sizing is a critical consideration here.
Armed with the answers to the questions I listed above, you can now consider yourself an educated shopper and should be able to make a sound business decision on the topic of CRM Mobile Sales. Good luck in your projects!