Specialized vs. Fully Integrated Software: What’s Right for Your Community?

specialized software, fully integrated softwareTechnology is expanding into all areas of business management. For senior living and multifamily communities, the software needs include systems for property management, referral management, sales and marketing management, clinical management, and customer relationship management (CRM). This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the idea.

The question is: Should you select best-in-class applications for each of your software needs or would your community benefit more from a single-vendor solution?

This post explores the advantages of both specialized and fully integrated software, and how to make the best CRM software decision for your community.

Advantages of specialized software

The main advantage of using individual software packages is that you can select the best solution in each category. Rather than shaping your management processes around a particular application, you can choose the applications that provide the greatest benefit for you.

Here are three key advantages of specialized CRM software for senior living and multifamily communities:

  • Richer functionality. Specialized software is designed by experts to solve a particular business problem. CRM software is specifically designed to handle the complexities of customer relationship management. While a fully integrated product suite may have the core CRM functions, it won’t have the same breadth of functionality, including the key features -- like in-depth analytics and reporting -- that provide the most business value.
  • More flexibility and customizability. All communities have a unique set of needs and requirements. For example, in senior living, your CRM needs may depend on the type of care you provide. Specialized software is generally more flexible and customizable than single-vendor applications.
  • Better support. Specialized software applications typically offer better user support. This means support teams have a deep understanding of the particular business problem and how the software solves that problem. In addition, vendors are often more willing to accommodate feature requests from users.

Advantages of fully integrated software

The main reason companies choose fully integrated software is efficiency.

Here are the two advantages of fully integrated software:

  • One-time data entry. With fully integrated software, there is no duplicate data entry. You enter the information once and it appears in all of your systems. However, the perceived advantage of one-time data entry is greater than the actual advantage. For specialized CRM software, the duplicate data entry efforts are minimal, often limited to contact information.
  • Easy data sharing. Since all of your organization’s information is in the same place, it is easy to share across departments. This ensures that everyone who needs to can easily access the information from a centralized portal. This is a true advantage, but a single-vendor solution isn't the only way to achieve it (see below).

In the past, fully integrated software also came at a lower cost than specialized applications. However, that was for installed applications. Today, cloud-based software-as-a-service has leveled the cost playing field.

What’s the best CRM solution for your community?

Ultimately, the best solution depends on what is most important for your company.

For senior living and multifamily executives deciding on CRM software, the issue comes down to short-term efficiency versus long-term value. Fully integrated CRM software may provide more efficiency upfront, for example, in the lack of duplicate data entry, but specialized CRM software will better support your business needs today and help you grow into the future. Which outcome is most valuable for you?

Do you really have to choose?

There is also a third scenario. By using cloud-based software and application programming interfaces (APIs), you can essentially design a customized software suite composed of best-in-class solutions for all of your business needs.

As Byron Deeter wrote for the Wall Street Journal blog: “Never before has the case for best of breed applications been more compelling. Cloud computing has made it financially and operationally viable for a company to pick the world’s best application for every need, every user, and every business case. Companies no longer have to sacrifice functionality for the sake of integration. You can have your cake and eat it too.”

Our cloud CRM provides best-in-class customer relationship management tools along with an API for easy integration with other systems. Contact us for more information about we can contribute to the success of your community.

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