CRM or generic platforms vs specialist software: which is better for regulators?

Finding the right digital solution for your regulatory agency isn’t easy. You can customise a generic CRM platform or use a regulatory management system – but how do you choose between the two?

As a government regulator, you understand the potential of technology to improve agency operations and regulatory compliance. To realise this potential, you need a digital solution that can produce complex regulatory reporting, adapt to change, is easy for staff to use, and importantly, deliver within your budget.

You could choose a generic CRM platform and customise the software to meet your needs. Alternatively, you could invest in specialist regulatory management software designed specifically for government regulators that can be configured to your business processes. Each choice comes with different implications for your agency now, and into the future.

We explore the key differences between generic CRM platforms and specialist regulatory management software to help you make the best decision.

What makes a good government regulatory system?

A good government regulatory system makes the task of managing regulation easier while also improving outcomes for the public. To achieve this, you’ll need the support of a digital solution that helps your agency:

  • Increase productivity by automating manual tasks
  • Deliver a streamlined customer experience
  • Respond within statutory timeframes
  • Make informed, consistent decisions across all regulatory functions
  • Adapt quickly to changing legislation, increases in regulation and organisational change
  • Accurate reporting driven by real-time data that is discoverable 
  • Become a proactive regulator by identifying risk and acting to prevent harm

Difference #1 - Low code no code vs customisation

Every government regulator choosing a generic CRM platform will need to make modifications to close the gap between the standard workflows within these platforms and the workflows your agency needs. You’ll need to invest both time and money in customisation, potentially exceeding your budget and leaving no room for future improvements or upgrades.

Conversely, regulatory management software comes with standard regulatory workflows which are readily configured specifically to your requirements. Objective RegWorks delivers flexible configuration featuring a low-code and no-code approach which empowers you to adapt as needed without extensive customisation. Access a comprehensive workflow library that capitalises on over 25 years of experience in working with government regulators. Together with the option to self-configure new workflows, you can avoid the need for costly customisation.

Difference #2 - Ease of upgrade

To meet the specific needs of your agency with a CRM or generic platform, the code base and data model must be modified. Once the modifications are made, your IT team can be left managing a complex legacy product that becomes increasingly difficult to support and upgrade. In many cases you’ll be using a very old software version and need to seek funding for the vendor to make changes or you’ll need to invest heavily in training a team of in-house developers.

Government regulatory technology solutions such as Objective RegWorks deliver cloud-based upgrades as part of a SaaS subscription model. This means you can keep your software up to date without the hassle and added expense.

Difference #3 - Adapting to change

Moving goal posts are a fact of life for government regulators facing ongoing legislative changes, new regulatory responsibilities, changes to your regulatory design and evolving KPIs. Making changes to a customised CRM can be a slow and resource-heavy exercise. In the meantime, you may experience issues such as difficulty getting reports or breaking the user interface.

Adapting to change is less of an issue with regulatory management systems because they’re designed with flexibility in mind, typically allowing for changes to be made within your agency. So rather than paying for modifications, you can change fields, workflows, business rules, automations, templates and reports in-house as legislation evolves. You can also forward date legislative changes to ensure they are rolled out at the exact time legislation comes into force.

Difference #4 - Value for money

Generic CRM solutions can initially appear to be a more cost-effective solution. However, they can fast become costly for government regulators looking to incorporate wider regulatory activities into a single source of truth for licensing, compliance monitoring and enforcement. With generic CRM solutions, you may need to build complicated interfaces with other data silos, create processes to work around the solution limitations or invest additional budget to get the solution working for your agency. So, what may seem like a cost-effective investment during the procurement process can quickly become a drain on your financials.

In comparison, regulatory management systems can initially appear to be a more costly investment upfront. But thanks to access to best practice regulatory workflows, self-configuration capability, and automatic cloud-based upgrades, the ongoing return on investment is often much higher. With Objective, you’ll also benefit from our learnings via regular focus groups with government regulators designed to drive innovation.

Difference #5 - Dependency on key personnel

Custom modifications to generic CRM platforms are not covered in standard processes and documentation. Instead, information tends to sit with a few key personnel, increasing your key-person dependency risk. So as staff move on to other roles, you’ll have access to fewer people who understand how and why the modifications were made, or how to adapt the system to your changing needs.

Using specialist regulatory management software helps to reduce key-person risk as you have access to a wider team, standard processes, documentation and a structured approach for changes. So as staff move on, your agency retains all the information and support it needs to continue managing the system.

Difference #6 - User experience

When you customise a generic CRM, you typically won’t see the user interface or the customer experience until the project is almost completed. Feedback from staff is then delayed until after deployment. This increases the risk that the user interface is clunky or inefficient, which can significantly impact staff adoption and the citizen experience.

With solutions such as Objective RegWorks, your staff can experience the user interface with prototype workflows and provide feedback very early in the project. Early involvement by staff can increase user adoption rates, ongoing engagement, and morale - and significantly improve your outcomes.

Difference #7 - Specialist regulatory knowledge

Generic CRM vendors may have highly competent technical teams, but often lack specific industry knowledge and experience within the regulatory space. To ensure your agency needs are met you’ll need to provide full requirements upfront and closely manage the vendor throughout the project. This increases the risk of project slippage, cost overruns, and rolling out an inefficient solution.

When you choose regulatory management software and work with regulatory specialists, you partner with a team of trusted advisors that understand your unique challenges. At Objective, we can demonstrate already working solutions, share insights and advice on the best way to do things based on our experience with other regulators. So, if you aren’t entirely clear on how to reach your goals, we can help you map out a plan to get there.

Difference #8 - Getting the job done

One of the most common frustrations we hear from regulators that have chosen to customise a CRM platform is that their requirements were never truly met. Even after customisation, agencies may need to introduce workarounds that often result in inefficiencies, poor data quality, and user dissatisfaction.

Regulatory management systems are designed with only regulation in mind. For example, Objective RegWorks incorporates extensive regulatory experience to help regulators achieve best practice. It incorporates the end-to-end regulatory lifecycle from granting approvals through to compliance monitoring and enforcement while seamlessly integrating the digital customer experience with the back-office. The result is faster responses, more insight, timely reporting and better customer satisfaction.

Specialist software designed for government regulation

While the idea of customising a generic CRM sounds promising, the reality for regulators is that customisation rarely delivers. With specialist regulatory software, you can better address your business needs now while also setting your agency up for the future.

Objective RegWorks is a pure-play software solution designed specifically for licensing, compliance, and enforcement. Make informed consistent decisions, increase productivity and improve safety outcomes. For more information or to see a demo, get in touch with our team.