Structure of the Requirements List

A requirements list for a house includes a mix of factors, from the number of bedrooms (functionality) to the type of floor plan (architecture), to the long-term prospects for the neighborhood (strategic value and fit), to whether you can move right in (ease of implementation), and of course the price. Some of the requirements are for the short term (the distance from your office) and some are for the long term (the age of the roof). It's the same for a CRM requirements list. Some items are tactical and some are strategic; some are technically driven and some are business-focused. Tool vendors typically focus only on functionality and technical architecture, but you need to think more broadly. Organize the requirements in five buckets, each weighing about equally in the final decision.

  • The vendor. What kind of company do you want to do business with? Is it a stable vendor? Are they innovating?
  • Technical architecture. Is the tool's architecture appropriate for your needs? Will the tool be compatible with other parts of your IT architecture?
  • Functionality. This is where the actual features of the tool come into play. Does the tool include all the functionality that you need? Are there some features that could put candidate tools over the top?
  • Implementation and maintenance. What will it take to actually make the tool work in your environment? Can the tool be customized to the extent you want and need? What are the long-term requirements? How hard is it to upgrade your customizations?
  • Budget. You don't want to waste time considering alternatives you can't afford, so you should set a high-level budget upfront including the tool, its implementation, and long-term maintenance costs.

The rest of the chapter discusses each of the categories in depth, and includes a summary checklist at the end to help you create your own customized list.