Customer Centricity
Astute Planning. Flawless Execution.
Delighted Customers.

Issue #179

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Tale of Two CRMs - The Technology Factor

This newsletter series covers approaches we have leveraged to ensure the success of numerous Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives, including a global deployment presently in process. In the prior article, we covered Process-Factors to consider within your CRM program.

We will now address the topic that is too often the "leading discussion" related to CRM: the technology. Within one of our earliest newsletters, published 10 years ago, I describe my own lessons learned on this topic. In summary, if you get the other things right, which we’ve previously covered, the technology component will be the easiest aspect of your CRM initiative.

In this article we will cover Technology-Factors to consider and the solution implemented for one of our latest CRM-related engagements.

To start, one of the most common questions we hear, related to CRM, is "which CRM solution is the best?" The short answer is "that depends." It depends on, but is not necessarily limited to, your:

 

·         Business Requirements and Scope

·         IT Strategy and Capabilities

 

In addition, the CRM solution providers are constantly leap-frogging one-another in price, features, functionality and performance. So, what may have been "the best" solution for a given set of requirements 6 months ago may not be so today. Our approach is to address the items above and then evaluate the solutions currently available to determine which is the best fit.

Business Requirements and Scope


It is important to clearly define business requirements and the aspects of CRM that are in scope (now and/or at some point in the relatively near future), including:

 

·         Sales

o   Account, contact and activity management

o   Forecasting and pipeline management

o   Quote-to-order

·         Marketing

o   Campaign management

·         Service

o   Contact Center

o   Field Service

o   Knowledgebase

·         Analytics and Reporting

·         End-user Platforms

o   Desktop/laptop

o   Tablet

o   Smartphone

 

If you are only looking to address 1-2 key focus areas above, a niche player may serve you best. If you ultimately require a fully integrated / cross-functional CRM solution, then enterprise-level options should be considered.

IT Strategy and Capabilities


Prior to the business team evaluating CRM solutions, it is important to fully engage with your IT leader to consider the following factors:

  • Does your firm have or is it prepared to acquire the necessary IT infrastructure and resources to host and provide ongoing support for the CRM solution? This will guide the decision as to whether or not you select an on-premise or software as a service (SaaS) solution.
  •  

  • What is your firm’s business application landscape? And, are there requirements to interface with other systems (such as ERP). If you currently license software from a vendor that also offers a CRM solution, you should be able to achieve cost-related benefits (up-front and ongoing) if you buy from them and implement their homogeneous solution.
  •  

  • Does your firm already license a CRM solution implemented in another department, division or business unit? While you may feel that "your" requirements are vastly different from the other business unit’s, you can obviously achieve significant cost savings by leveraging the investment. I know, I know, you have probably heard horror stories about this other business unit’s implementation of "that solution." Rest assured, that it is probably NOT the CRM solution that is the problem, but how it was implemented. That is, they likely performed a "technical" implementation without addressing the people and process factors we’ve covered in this series. Seriously, take an unbiased look at the solution your company has already invested in. While you may not be able to make use of that particular instance of the CRM solution "as configured" for this other business unit, you likely can leverage the software licensing agreement, computing platform and support model.

So, what solution is best?
        
We’ll now answer the question: what solution was selected and implemented for the current client engagement, and why?

The easy choice for this particular client was MS Dynamics CRM, for a number of reasons:

  • It was already implemented in another business unit of the firm.
  • It is a top tier, mature solution containing ALL the features and functions necessary to meet the business requirements of this particular client.
  • It provides the necessary CRM-related "building blocks" and is flexible enough to be configured to meet particular process-related nuances - globally.
  • It enables the business power-user to administer elements of the solution with less dependency on IT.


An area that MS Dynamics CRM could not fulfill "out-of-the-box" for this client related to product configuration and quoting requirements.
                       

Our client offers sophisticated medical equipment available in various configuration options. To quickly onboard sales personnel and ensure only valid product configurations are quoted (without manual intervention to QC quotes in advance of presenting to the customer) a key requirement included providing the sales team a product configuration and quoting engine fully integrated with CRM. Our implementation partner Edgewater Technology
highly recommended Experlogix.

After performing our own due diligence on Experlogix, we decided to implement this fully integrated "bolt-on" to MS Dynamics CRM. In short, the results have been outstanding.

We’ve been implementing IT solutions for a LONG time. This is one of the very few instances when we can say "the product / solution delivered on absolutely EVERY expectation." Experlogix provided:

  • Excellent training and support
  • A comprehensive solution that power-users (comfortable with MS Access-like commands and formulas) can, with training, set up and maintain business rules with minimal IT support
  • A completely rules-driven solution that supports ALL product configuration scenarios (of this particular client) leaving no exceptions that had to be handled outside the solution.


In summary, because we addressed the people and process factors previously covered and selected the "right" technology, this aspect of the project was, relatively speaking, quite simple. That is, it was simply a matter of execution.


In the final edition of this series, we will cover a number of lessons learned on this particular engagement.

 

In closing, if you are embarking on a CRM initiative, are in the throes of one that isn’t on track to deliver the results you expected, or would like to discuss additional details related to the approaches and techniques being covered, contact us. We’d be happy to provide a sounding board and determine if there is an opportunity to assist you in getting the MOST out of your investment in CRM.

Available Talent
           
As our clients can attest, Customer Centricity talent is comprised of seasoned resources with "scars of experience" who bring incredible focus to drive key business initiatives to successful conclusion. An example of a resource currently available is:
              
Project Manager with significant experience driving local and global business-critical initiatives including:

  • IT/Business Applications
    • Commissions Management
    • CRM
    • E-Commerce
    • Financial Planning & Analysis
    • Human Resource Solutions
    • Professional Services Automation
    • Manufacturing Execution System
  • Product development, prototyping, testing, and launch of a new dental implant and prosthetic product line
  • Facilities renovations
  • Pragmatically applying PMI practices and metrics into all projects
            
Our primary objective is to make you look good through the successful completion of your business-critical initiatives. In addition, we seek to serve as a mentor to effectively transition and/or develop key skills in your organization so that you are not dependent on external resources for the long term.

If you’d like to learn more about how Customer Centricity can help you, please contact us. We’re happy to serve as a sounding board and determine if there is real potential to assist you.



In This Edition
+ A Tale of Two CRMs:
   The Technology Factor
+ Available Talent

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Recommended Reading


          

           

For a comprehensive guide to Customer Relationship Management, you are encouraged to read CRM In Real Time: Empowering Customer Relationships by Barton Goldenberg.

As described on Amazon.com:

This comprehensive guide to CustomerRelationship Management (CRM) draws on Barton Goldenberg's 20+ years of experience guiding firms to a successful implementation of CRM solutions and techniques. Goldenberg demonstrates how the right mix of people, process, and technology can help firms achieve a superior level of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and new business. Beginning with a primer for executives who need to get quickly up-to-speed on CRM, the book covers a full range of critical issues including integration challenges and security concerns, and illuminates CRM's key role in the 24/7/365 real-time business revolution. CRM in Real Time is an essential guide for any organization seeking to maximize customer relationships, coordinate customer-facing functions, and leverage the power of the Internet as business goes real time.

 

About Customer Centricity

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  • Improve the Customer Experience and Operational Performance
  • Drive mission critical projects to conclusion

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