Predicted to grow to a stunning $29 billion by 2022 at a 1.9% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), the CRM software market takes a notable portion of the global information technology industry. These healthy markers mean CRM adoption is going strong, and companies of all sizes, SMBs included, look into implementing the system for the many perks it offers. Like with any other type of a complex technological solution, this implementation process usually requires a tech partner to carry it out. In this case, the cycle is broken into phases such as consulting, development, customization, testing and, finally, deployment.
As much as most of these phases are difficult for a newbie client to comprehend, testing perhaps raises the most questions. Why is it necessary? How should it be done? What are the expected outcomes? A1QA consultants took their time to explain the ins and outs of CRM testing to help find answers.
Platform-based CRM Testing vs. Custom CRM Testing
The CRM software market is divided between top 5 technology juggernauts: Salesforce (the leader by market size), Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and Adobe. They provide powerful enterprise-grade platforms that can be adopted as they are, or customized to fit into a company’s infrastructure and business workflows.
Such platform customizations are where CRM testing comes into play. Wherever any new coding and integrations are involved, testers should be called in order to ensure the quality of the delivered code and its correct functioning alongside the out-of-the-box system. Each of the popular CRM systems has its own preferred programming language and customization guidelines, so opting for a vendor with a partner status in a respective CRM provider’s network is recommended.
Completely custom-built CRMs take only a small portion of the market. Yet they exist, and their development should also be accompanied by thorough testing. In this case, testing should be applied to the entire system and spread across all its aspects, from backend to frontend.
Now let’s look at the key components of CRM testing and how they help to ensure CRM users get a perfectly functional, secure, and appealing system.
CRM Testing in Detail
Testing starts with test cases. So, before the actual testing begins, the team sits down to study the system requirements documented in the specs, hypothesizes about end users’ behavior and journey through the system, and come up with the quantitative and qualitative metrics to be tested against the benchmarked criteria. In A1QA practice, test engineers often run a cross-review of test cases by sending the latter to other team members for validation.
Depending on the nature of a CRM system and the scope of development work to be assured, testing comes in a few shapes.
Starting with the system’s shopfront, here comes usability testing. This aims at ensuring the interface is logical, dashboards are relevant, features are easily accessible, and navigation is intuitive. Usability tests are usually fulfilled in cooperation with end users split by their roles: typically, sales reps, marketers, account managers, and customer support staff.
In the case of cloud-based CRM systems (which now account for a majority), the testing team should make sure all the popular browsers are well-compatible with the system and render the UI correctly, including its mobile web version.
Functional and Performance Testing
These two are among the key focuses of CRM testing teams since both functional and performance tests validate if the system works as intended and doesn’t return any errors while operating.
Functional testing, in particular, is concerned with what its names implies — CRM functions as specified in the system documentation. It can be split into smoke testing, regression testing, acceptance testing, and more to assure the quality of every CRM system component.
Performance testing is important to verify that the system runs with no downtime or lagging. For this, testers usually apply a range of methods: load, stress, scalability, configuration, stability, and volume tests. The result is a system that stays productive even with hundreds of concurrent users and under heavy data load.
Data Quality and Integrity
CRM systems are data-intensive— their very functions revolve around customer data, which becomes the front and center of CRM performance. Testers’ task here is to ensure CRM data stays clean with no errors and duplicates as well as with no data losses. It’s also critical to test that each user sees the data only within permitted areas to protect confidentiality.
All such tests are usually run with test data, which imitates the data to be actually used in the application when it’s live. Testers choose to assure data quality depending on the data input method; CRM data is usually either entered manually by users or integrated automatically from other systems. This last function becomes important considering the slew of enterprise applications that must communicate with the CRM. Such integrations are the subject of the next testing type.
CRM systems may seem to have a rather limited range of functions if you consider enterprise operations on the whole. However, CRM is the cornerstone of everything related to customer interactions, and by definition should be connected with every customer-facing channel.
Such channels are versatile and can cover offline and online sales, marketing, operations, field work, and customer support. If the data movement from a CRM to any of the systems servicing these channels is obstructed, the value of a CRM as a corporate tool diminishes. That’s why it’s important to ensure data flows with no errors between the CRM and other systems:
- Mobile apps
- Online chats
- Call center
- ERP (enterprise resource planning system)
- PoS (point of sale)
Another data-centered function of a CRM is to feed a company’s business intelligence, analytics, and reporting modules with correct input. It’s rare that a CRM has any built-in analytics and reporting apart from basic functionality, so interoperability between a CRM and data-analyzing apps is what guarantees their healthy operations.
A Vote Up for CRM Testing
By assuring the quality of a CRM system, be it a customized platform from one of the acclaimed vendors or a custom-built one, companies can benefit from its impeccable performance, usability, interoperability with other internal systems, security, and exceptional quality of data.
In turn, this results in easier user adoption of a CRM system, more actionable customer data, and by extension — more effective business workflows. Also, considering how important data management practices are for compliance purposes, the importance of testing just can’t be overestimated.