CRM Cannot Stand Alone
It is crucial to view CRM as an integral part of the entire organizational-process pool.
Posted May 3, 2004
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CRM is as an organizational business strategy that deals with people issues, organizational mindset towards customers, and overall company philosophy. It is crucial to view CRM as an integral part of the entire organizational-process pool. There are two aspects of CRM that need to be considered: functional processes and technology solutions. CRM functional processes CRM processes span functions and departments. At the front end they may impact sales, service, and marketing. As an extension of this, the back-end process machinery comes to life. For CRM processes to function holistically or be successful, it is imperative that they integrate with the other processes in the company. One part of CRM processes, for example, could be the personalized-order process, wherein a particular order process is very specific to a given customer's needs and location. The customer's experience in terms of the order placement may turn out to be very positive (an effect of customer centricity). However, if the back-end delivery process is not integrated with the front-facing CRM processes, the customer's entire interaction may turn out to be a negative experience. To deliver what CRM promises, it is important for its processes to tightly integrate with other organizational initiatives and processes. These processes may originate in finance, HR, inventory, etc., but the echo of customer centricity should be heard through all organizational functions to achieve customer satisfaction. CRM technology solutions Once the CRM processes are well in tune with the organizational processes, a technology rollout can provide the beneficial tools to help with process implementation. Most organizations today have multiple technology solutions running in-house for one function or another, whether it's a simple contact management system or a complex, multitier CRM package spanning various functions. A CRM solution today can no longer exist in isolation. The core of any business solution--the data--is not always neatly structured. Silos of information still exist in most companies, feeding various systems. As CRM extends into more industries, such as telecom and utilities, the business requirements for CRM systems must change. And as customer processes grow increasingly close to product services, integration between CRM and other business solutions have also become vital for organizations. Data sharing and parsing to achieve full process life cycle require CRM solutions to 'talk' to other solutions, such as ERP systems. Since CRM is limited to customer-facing activities, systems like ERP help deliver the promise made via the CRM system. Functions like finance, invoicing, order dispatch, and tracking all occur in ERP systems once transactional details are received from a CRM system. The challenge of enterprise binding is being taken up by many companies to get a seamless stitch between applications that will work to fulfill customer needs. This is also the approach of an organization to an e-enterprise. About the Author Vishal Sarkar is a senior CRM consultant for GrapeCity, in Seattle. He specializes in CRM technology solution deployments, business analysis, CRM strategy, and process definition. Contact Sarkar at vishals@grapecity.com
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