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CRM Testing | What it is, Why, How to Do & Best Practices

April 4, 2024Harish Rajora
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CRM Testing What it is, Why, How to Do & Best Practices
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Businesses run on relationships with their current and past customers. Their experience with the business influences their own and their peer’s decisions for any transaction Gone are the days when personal meetings were conducted with the customers to strengthen the ties. Today, we need customer relationship management software to do the same work but much faster, efficiently, and on a very large scale. Such software when integrated into the system for the first time cannot be trusted blindly for practical applications. CRMs are a lot more complex than just shaking hands and therefore require thorough testing after the integration. It ensures that the end goals of adopting a CRM are met and the organization is able to streamline their business operations from the customer’s as well as their end.

What is CRM testing?

CRM testing is the process of verifying the integration of CRM software into the application and exploring any glitches in the complete connected structure. A subprocess of software testing, it helps understand the compatibility of CRM with the application and whether or not it aligns with the organization’s performance expectations or not. 

CRM testing involves benchmark analysis in various domains such as functional, performance, usability, and security. Since a CRM tool alone would be responsible for a lot of communication and bookkeeping, the testing process ensures that this system works as intended as a complete system meeting the business requirements and smoothing out the manual work.

Why is CRM testing important?

CRMs have proven to be one of the most essential parts of not only relationship management but also managing data and making use of it. This has made the CRM industry grow at a staggering rate of 13.5% with an expected revenue of $80 billion by 2025. Today, more than 91% of businesses that have more than 11 employees use CRMs. These data points show how integral CRMs have become and their position in the organization’s priority structure.

Why is CRM testing important?

Source: superoffice

CRM testing, therefore, becomes an important job because the above benefits (as displayed by data) can only be reaped if the system is reliable and working correctly. Each step used in a CRM is based on the data reflecting each customer. If the data is not recorded or analyzed correctly, the chances of miscommunication increase which may weaken the relationship with the customer. Moreover, CRMs contain logic within themselves. For instance, if X happens then Y should happen. Such logic needs to be tested thoroughly as the occurrence of Y is what will drive the business relations and work as the core of the system.

Benefits of CRM testing

For people just starting their journey in CRM testing, it may seem a little vague to understand the long-term benefits of adopting such a system. While extremely small businesses (less than 10 employees) can still manage manually, today or tomorrow, the team needs to match up their infrastructure to the scaling factor by introducing CRM in it. This brings a long list of benefits with the most highlighted ones as follows:

Compatibility of the system

The primary thing an organization is looking forward to while testing the CRM software is its compatibility with the current application. Since the CRM and the application both have large, complex modules, there can be a lot of holes when they both collaborate. If these two do not mix well together, it would not matter how rich the CRM tool is and what benefits it offers. As a team, this is the primary target to achieve through CRM testing.

Efficient data analysis

Data analysis works differently in different CRM tools. The core part, however, looks at analyzing the gathered data and creating visuals out of it to connect another pipeline from it. For instance, data analysis can help understand the most visited page or product and provide offers on it to drive sales ahead.

my sales dashboard

Zendesk data analysis dashboard

Depending on the tool developers use, CRM can also provide recommendations and sales analytics to collaborate with other team members including marketing and customer support. Such efficient data analysis is not possible manually, especially when the organization is dealing with millions or more user hits monthly or quarterly.

Enhance application performance

All the data and recommendations provided by the CRM will directly boost growth and customer engagement. CRM testing helps explore the strong and weak areas of the application while also suggesting the next possible step in business growth. The data provided by CRM helps strategize and analyze the areas within the teams and their work. This helps ensure that the application is not only strong from the outside but also from the inside and that can be confirmed only by testing the infrastructure.

Cost reduction

All the work done by a CRM tool used to be done manually by a dedicated team majorly on Excel sheets. Moreover, depending on the requirements, the team may use multiple other applications for which trained resources are required. With CRM in place, these resources can be replaced with those that know how to run just a single tool, and that too does not require much manual intervention. With this reduction in application numbers and team size, organizations save up to 29% of the original costs easily.

Error reduction

Hectic manual work always opens up the scope for errors that may or may not be exposed before production. This certainly proves harmful for the organization as the data gathering will be erroneous leading to wrong analysis and misleading customer-targeted campaigns from multiple teams. In addition, organizations bear the costs of rectification of such errors while the data lost would never be recovered. CRM testing helps close these open cracks in the system while ensuring that the system is automated and works without any errors.

Helps facilitate customer relations

CRM testing ensures that the application or tool does what it is aimed for. If everything is set in the right place, the team gets personalized data with respect to clients that help the organization deal with them individually on a much deeper level. Such actions deepen customer relations, ultimately boost growth, and help retain customers over a long time.

These points emphasize a great deal why CRM testing is essential and should be conducted before integrating the software into the production version.

CRM testing scope

The testing scope of CRM defines what needs to be tested in the software and how it needs to be tested. It is an important document determining the essential parts of the application that are documented for the future as well. It also helps keep everything organized in a single place to understand the test’s effectiveness and ultimately measure the quality of the application. However, testing scope will differ from CRM to CRM and how many elements the organization has integrated into the application. This can be measured by certain factors that determine the CRM scope.

  • Type of CRM: Testing scope varies based on the type of CRM used in the application. If the CRM has fewer modules or is just analytical, the scope will be direct and shorter as there are fewer things to test. 
  • Complexity of integration: How integral an organization has kept the CRM software also affects the testing scope. A high-complexity integration will take a lot more test cases and data in the scope than a simple direct one.
  • Team size: The size of the team includes the collaboration of multiple teams into a single CRM. One CRM can satiate requirements from a lot of domains hence creating overlapping processes. If the total number of team members is large, the test scope needs to be expanded with inclusions from all of them. Hence, the test cases will be of multiple varieties from each domain that will take time in construction as well as execution.
  • User base size: The user base size is also a factor that affects the CRM testing scope. This is because as the user base increases, so does the campaign size and the work a CRM tool has to do. The test scope will also aim to find the bottlenecks and threshold values of the system. A large user base will test scalability and all these factors will go down inside the documentation for current and future uses. 
  • Test requirements: Next comes the test requirements which represent the type of testing as planned by the team. If the testing domains are fewer (such as only functional), the test scope will reflect the same.
  • Security testing: Finally, if the application concerns security of any type at any part of the CRM, it affects the test scope in the same way. The test scope will define the security loopholes, where are the vulnerabilities, and how is the team tackling them from various angles.

These factors are generalized and can be fit into any CRM software. However, the actual list of factors that affect CRM testing scope may have a few more added points depending on the type of application we are working on and the project’s requirements (at present and in the future).

CRM Testing Setup Plan

To initiate and successfully conclude CRM testing, the team needs to focus on each step carefully. This includes carefully dissecting them into sub-steps and focusing on each of those smaller areas for better results. The overall process starts with designing, then preparing for testing using the design, and at last launching all the steps to set up the testing phases. The details about them are explored in their respective sections.

CRM testing process design

The CRM testing process needs a design crafted by experts to be followed till the launch. This starts by selecting the team members. The team needs to be experienced and know how CRM testing is done and modify their testing methods according to the current project and its requirements.

Once the team members are selected, the next process is planning different stages of the CRM testing. This is the crucial part and in general, takes a big chunk of time. Here, a lot of dimensions are explored according to expertise. For instance, end-to-end risk analysis explores the risk of the system. Another dimension is finalizing the types of tests to run or testing types to adopt and on which parts of the application. If the requirement is for automated web app testing, then automation applications according to the team’s expertise are required. Similarly, for AI-based testing, AI-driven testing tools are required. 

CRM testing preparation

Once all the details are designed and documented, the team needs to be prepared with all the arrangements so that they are ready for execution. All the requirements are set up as close to production as possible so that the team can divide their work and start testing. This requires documentation, software configurations, server configurations (if any), CRM integration and configuration, etc.

CRM testing launch

Till this step, the design and preparations are ready and everything is set up. The only things that remain in this step are the test data and execution of tests. To achieve this, we create a test set directory based on the test scope and finally execute tests to create a report and bugs from it.

Following this plan produces satisfactory results and will help create a robust testing infrastructure for a long time.

Essential steps for CRM testing (checklist)

The CRM testing will include a lot of steps to ensure that the standalone tool and the integrated system work as expected from all angles. While a few of them may be omitted or added based on the type of project the team is working on, the essential ones will (and must) always be adopted as they have proven their importance with time.

Testing the integration of software

Once integrated into the main application, the CRM tool works as a center for most of the things. For instance, this image shows various components attached to CRM (which may differ with each organization):

CRM integrations

Source: Sydle

When so many things are connected to one centralized element, the integration becomes complex. Consider an example where a user recharges their connection through the ChatBot feature on the web application. It has to send an SMS, an email, maybe a WhatsApp message, and many other things no matter transaction proceeds or fails. Integration, therefore, does not only concern how a particular element works in isolation but how all the components blend. Since CRM connects to a large number of elements, this process becomes harder to test and demands a lot more from a tester than say, API testing which is much simpler in execution.

Testing the performance

One of the primary issues with having a system with one element connected and operating so many other elements is the cost of performance. When so many tasks need to be executed, it takes a load on the overall performance and the reasons for which the end-user does not care about. A slower application will remain to be received negatively by the public no matter what the cause is. Hence, the testing team needs to weigh down on performance and test it from every worst scenario to cut down on troubles in the future.

Testing the data accuracy and consistency

People behind operating CRM are going to play with the data all the time. The collection, analysis, and representation of data stand as a core pillar for developing as well as adopting customer resource management software. Naturally, this has to be perfect in its working so that whatever patterns and data other team members see, are always reliable so that further strategies can be derived from it that ultimately draws the revenue. Therefore, testing teams should keep their data-related tests as exhaustive as possible to keep all the loopholes closed as there will be no way to verify the accuracy once the tests are cleared and CRM is launched in production.

Testing the usability

The usability of the application determines how easy it is to use the CRM software. The people using CRM software will belong to both technical and non-technical departments. The usability should be such that even if a beginner from any team operates the application, they should be able to get everything where they expected without needing external help. Also, usability testing should ensure that what a CRM is trying to display is clear to the user. For instance, the panel displaying the heading “Average Order Value” should display the average order value per customer only. If it displays something else, the software may not be labeled as usable.

It is always recommended to test the usability of the application with actual users who are unaware of the software and how it works. This method always provides good results.

Testing all the features and functionalities

The features and functionalities of CRM are tested under functionality testing. This type of testing ensures that the features CRM claims to exist work as expected in all the scenarios including operating systems, browsers, specifications, etc. This can be divided into two large groups. The first group tests whether the feature works or not in general. For instance, if the feature is about sending an email on subscribing newsletter, the “Subscribe” button should work correctly and the user should receive an email. Moreover, the newsletter subscriber list should have added an entry after the mail is sent.

The second group is not concerned about the functionality working but whether it is working in different environments or not. For this group, testers perform cross-browser testing that ensures it’s working on real devices and browsers. This is important to conduct because the end user might be using any browser or any system and the organization cannot risk providing buggy CRM software as it handles essential elements such as data and marketing-related tasks.

Testing new changes with regression

Regression testing helps analyze the effect of new changes on old code to ensure that every other feature that has already been published is still working fine. It is a measure of the overall application’s performance and how stable the application is just before production.

Testing all the possibilities by exploration

Exploratory testing is exploring all the possibilities without any set criteria to understand how the software will behave when a user operates randomly. This is a great way to uncover loopholes that could have been missed with strategic testing and automation. It improves the CRM quality and how it behaves with the user as all the patterns become predictable. 

Testing the security of the application

Where there is data and direct customer connection, there has to be a security testing phase that checks how secure the application is. Security testing helps define the system’s reliability before any user operates on it. Any security vulnerability is a threat to personal as well as company data and can incur huge losses in case of a breach. It should be done under expert guidance and is mandatory in every code change (or version release). 

These steps define different angles to focus on and keep the working of the integrated tool as intact as possible.

How do you perform a CRM test?

Finally, we are ready to execute test cases and perform actual testing on the CRM after learning about the theoretical aspects of it. For this, we continue in three stages:

  • Writing or recording the test cases.
  • Selecting the correct specification for test case runs.
  • Execute the tests.

All these three stages require at least one capable tool that can manage automation test runs, easy test scripting, integrations, reporting, collaboration, and preferably other features to facilitate all of this. For this demonstration, we are picking up Testsigma and there are solid reasons for this choice:

  • Artificial intelligence support: Testsigma comes with AI support that can detect changes in the UI and adjust test cases automatically. This is also called self-healing in automation testing.
Artificial Intelligence support
  • English-based tests: The platform requires test scripting to be done in English and therefore eliminates the requirement of programming skills saving time and resources for the organization.
  • Mobile test recorder: Testsigma allows testers to operate on the device in the pattern that they want the test to perform. Those actions are then automatically recorded and can be replayed on any system later.
  • Reporting: The platform comes with in-built reporting and analytics features that provide rich reports to be sent to the team members or stakeholders. Testsigma also facilitates collaboration among team members and provides quick-to-store and share options.
  • Integrations: CRM testing will rely on multiple third-party tools that are efficient in their respective tasks. Testsigma supports hundreds of integrations to attach a tool as per convenience. All the data from all these integrations can be viewed from a single dashboard.

Apart from this, Testsigma provides all the testing features that a good automation testing tool provides. For instance, the tester can opt for various testing methodologies as per the requirement including API testing, data-driven testing, and UI/UX testing.

Writing or recording the tests

The first step is writing the tests. As mentioned, in Testsigma, we can either record the steps or write in English script as follows:

Writing or recording the tests

These tests are extremely fast to write and are easy to maintain in the future by new members or old members of the team.

Selecting configurations

Next, we select the type of configuration where the tests need to be executed. For instance, an Android-based mobile device or a Windows-based desktop, etc. Testsigma provides real devices that can be set up just with a few clicks. 

Selecting configurations

The specifications selected here can be saved to the account for later use as well.

Execute the tests

Finally, the tests can be executed simply by pressing Run here on the same selected configuration. Different tools will provide different interfaces that the testers need to be aware of. Once the tests are executed, reports are generated as follows:

Execute the tests

They can now be shared with other team members while the test data remains saved inside the central account that can be accessed by authorized members. Hence, just to note, collaborative features are also important in the tool you choose for CRM testing.



Cost of executing CRM tests

A CRM is a major module of any application. It holds a lot of responsibilities and acts from the center to many other modules. Therefore, its testing cannot be taken lightly and we need to make sure the testing phase is of the highest quality to produce an application of the same standard. Naturally, there are a lot of concerns regarding the costs associated with it. In this section, we can deduce a rough formula in various situations to understand how much money can we expect to be listed in the expense sheet each month.

CRM testing can be done in two ways:

  • In-house.
  • Outsource.

Calculating costs for in-house CRM testing

The first method is setting up our own infrastructure and in-house team to conduct testing in all the release versions. Such an arrangement has the following costs:

  • Infrastructure costs.
  • People costs.
  • Tool costs (optional).

Infrastructure costs include the cost of setting up the infrastructure as well as maintaining it. For CRM type of software, maintaining an infrastructure would majorly mean procuring new devices including mobile devices, desktops, laptops, chrome devices, etc. This will keep coming into your bills as long as the application is live.

The second cost is the people costs i.e. how much are we spending on people. This expense will be in the form of salaries and training. An in-house setup requires two teams – one for setting up a lab and the other purely for testing purposes. Considering there are X members in total and on average the team spends Y dollars on them per month, the total expense becomes:

Number of members x Money spent on each member

This number depends on the type of team acquired. An experienced team will demand more money but the quality of work will not suffer. A mix of both is preferable, therefore.

The final variable in the total costs is money spent on the tool. An organization can opt for a pre-made tool from a third party and may pay the costs for it. This can be either per member per month or unlimited members per month depending on the tool. If the organization decides to make the tool themselves, then they need to hire developers for the same and the costs are added again to the people cost. It is recommended to opt for third-party tools if the requirements can be satiated by any one of them. In-house development invites a lot of additional expenses and maintenance overheads.

Calculating costs for outsourced CRM testing

The costs accumulated when CRM testing is outsourced are fairly simple and straightforward. Here, we cut down all the additional overheads while just paying for the testing part to a third party. However, the quotation changes based on the requirements. Some organizations would want experienced testers while some may ask for at least 2000 test cases (for example). As an organization changes its demands, the price fluctuates accordingly. 

In such scenarios too, the company has to hire a team to oversee all the processes and be the point of contact for the internal testing team and the third-party organization. This adds up to the cost but the number of people is limited and hence the costs are minimal.

Best practices for CRM testing

CRM testing can be conducted most efficiently and fruitfully if the following practices are followed:

  • Plan before implementation – It is extremely important to plan everything before implementation in CRM testing. This is because backtracking and modifying the design is cost-heavy. CRM includes too many modules with integration with many other native ones. It makes things complex and the only way to avoid a mess is to plan every little thing and just stick to the plan.
  • Test data is irreplaceable: The job of CRM revolves around data. It stores and analyzes data that helps move other jobs in the pipeline. Hence, it is important to ensure that all these things work perfectly, especially the analytical part. The best way to achieve that is by performing CRM testing with exhaustive test data of multiple kinds. This phase should never be skipped and performed no matter how deeply CRM is integrated for data-related purposes.
  • Hire an experienced team: CRM is an integral part of the application and even more than that, it helps plan future strategies and create customer relations that bring revenue. Testing such software based on theoretical knowledge like a beginner may end up passing bugs into production. As mentioned earlier, CRM bugs are expensive to fix and incur high costs of rectification. An experienced team knows such software inside out and areas where they can spot hidden bugs or fatal errors.
  • Mix automation and manual: A good practice to follow in CRM testing is to mix automation and manual wherever one is required. CRM testing cannot be fully automated or be fully manual. While we can increase the automation coverage as much as possible, a few elements would still need manual verification and as a tester, we should always analyze such parts. This mix is what will help test each angle of the software and enhance the overall quality.

With these simple and effective practices, we also invite the reader’s suggestions and comments based on their experience in the below section. It will help explore other practices that have been invented with personal experiences but are equally effective in implementation.

Choosing a solution provider for CRM testing

While selecting a solution provider for CRM testing, the testers should know how to go ahead and make this selection. This helps them select the most optimum solution for them and facilitates their work during and post-testing phase.

  • Alignment with business requirements: The highest priority for choosing a CRM testing solution is to check its alignment with the business requirements. Different businesses work on different principles and CRM tools being integrated software has a responsibility to verify all of them. It is also true that there cannot be a single universal CRM for all businesses. Therefore, analyze the business requirement and shortlist testing tools based on the same in the first stage.
  • Wide testing domain: CRM testing tool has to be equipped with all the major testing types even if the requirement is not currently. As the product grows, sooner or later, the team will be required to widen their testing span and that generally means exploring other testing domains. It is better, therefore, to just start with such a tool from the start and avoid moving all the data to another in the future.
  • Wide device range: CRM tools will be viewed and operated through multiple devices and browsers installed on them. To test this part, the CRM testing solution should be able to run a few tests on each of the target device ranges. This can only be achieved if the testing solution supports so many tools and this is something to keep in mind while selecting a CRM testing solution.
  • Scalable: The organization grows each day and the resources that make its existence possible grow with it too. One such resource is the CRM tool and its scalability may affect its performance if not tested properly. In such situations, the team requires a tool that does not fear large scales and can test at equal efficiency no matter what the size is. Moreover, the tool must help prepare for future numbers preferably through load testing which can be considered as a part of scalable operations.

Once all these things are sorted, the tool that gets finalized would just require personal adjustments according to the project and the team and you are good to go!

CRM testing challenges

CRM tools have evolved a lot today and bring perfection to each of their modules. This helps in easing out the testing part as all we need to take care of are external entities. Therefore, even though these challenges are limited in number, they do need to be explored for better preparation.

  • Measuring data accuracy: The most challenging part of CRM testing is measuring data accuracy. Most of the work we take out from a CRM tool is related to data and all the future steps depend on it. If it is not accurate, the organization may destroy its relationship with the customer by providing wrong messages. There are tools to measure the accuracy but it would still need a lot of manual work which makes this job time-consuming.
  • Cross-browser testing: The number of devices currently used in the market is astonishing. To receive accurate data for each of them, the tool needs to be tested on these devices before releasing the application. This is a challenging task as it becomes humanly impossible to manually conduct all the tests on each of the devices. Thankfully, tools like Testsigma eliminate all the overheads in these cases.
  • Planning: To chalk out a plan for CRM testing is a tough job because of the number of elements a CRM tool has. These elements are not only complex in themselves but also attach various other application modules after integration. Therefore, what a testing team starts once cannot be retraced back if it does not execute well. To perfectly design the planning part with so many complexities poses a tough challenge to the team.

While these challenges cannot be ignored and will consume a lot of time, certain steps can help the team overcome them easily.

Overcoming CRM testing challenges

To overcome CRM testing challenges, the team should adopt the following steps:

  • Focus on test data: As mentioned, data accuracy is a challenge and of the highest priority when it comes to CRM. Therefore, to ensure that our data never lies, we need to test it with large amounts of practical data. Spend time curating this list and keep adding chunks of new data at frequent intervals.
  • Adopt an online tool: It is always better to adopt an online tool for cross-browser testing rather than building an on-premise lab. The cloud-based tools like Testsigma take care of all the new and old devices including the maintenance and networking part. With such a tool all you need to do is write tests and execute on the selected specifications.
  • Document everything: To overcome not only the planning phase but a lot of other challenges, it is advisable to document everything in a report. This helps in keeping records, retrospect on previous steps, and creating an archive for each team member and beyond the department as well.

Along with this, it is also recommended to mix certain practices that you feel will save time in accordance with your testing patterns. Observing your style of testing along with generic methods provides fruitful results in the long term.

Conclusion

Customer relations often top the priority list for a business as a lot of revenue depends on it. Each organization wants returning customers and this does not happen magically by itself. To understand the dynamics between the customer and the business, CRM (or customer relationship management) tools are available. These tools help us analyze each customer on a micro-scale and even suggest the most suitable next steps. However, as with every tool that integrates into the application, this too needs to be tested for its reliability.

CRM testing ensures that the CRM works as intended and will help drive businesses in the correct direction. It’s complex and requires a lot of expertise from the team members to accomplish everything perfectly from the first step to the last. This post tries to explore all these complexities along with the reasonings in multiple stages. 

While CRM testing will require practical experience, the theoretical aspect covered in this post will cover every scenario the team faces in their professional life. Once adopted, it brings high returns and streamlines the processes even if they are extremely complex from the business point of view.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key components of the CRM testing budget plan?

CRM testing can be done with the in-house team or through a CRM testing solution. The budget plan for in-house testing includes salaries, devices, and infrastructure costs. However, the budget plan for a CRM testing solution will depend largely on how many people will use the tool and what facilities are expected. Since CRM tools are complex, CRM testing tools too offer a variety of features and charge accordingly.

What is the best way of testing for CRM?

The best way of testing for CRM is to adopt a CRM testing solution crafted specifically for this purpose. Such tools provide features keeping in mind the CRM requirements and the end goals expected from it. These solutions are often on the cloud (which is better) and can eliminate a lot of infrastructure overheads with just a signup.

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