CRM A changing Environment - One System to Rule All

Today CRM can be the unifying system through which all of the business functions are viewed and even controlled, writes Leslie Faughnan, Sunday Business Post.

Customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are always closely connected, not least because transaction history information is basic to CRM. But CRM is certainly not a sub-function of ERP. In fact, many experts believe that in the modern enterprise it is CRM and information management that should be regarded as the central systems.

That is certainly the view of Martin Commins, principal consultant and ERP specialist with Lumenia Consulting. Founded in Galway and with a branch office in London, this is a specialist management consultancy that works with its clients in developing business systems strategy, particularly the selection and implementation of ERP and CRM systems.

“What we want to do is give everyone dealing with the customer, sales and marketing, accounts, service and support, that 360 degree view that is so often talked about but not always achieved,” said Commins. “So for a start CRM and ERP should be totally integrated and certainly dual maintenance is nonsense. Knowledge is power but it is only of value to the person dealing with a customer when it is accurate and current, whether out in the field with that customer or in the back office.

“That is also fundamental to our newer business intelligence and analytics applications. You can easily sort and see what is relevant when all of the information is there. All of that rests in turn on proper implementation in the first place,” said Commins.

“It has to ensure, for example, that every interaction feeds appropriately into workflow governed by business rules. Efficiency and accuracy, after all, is fundamental to serving customers well. If there is a mistake or delay or complaint, the systems have to ensure that corrective decisions are made and the customer looked after properly,” he said.

“A well-prepared CRM solution is like a rich fruit cake. It matures and becomes better over time. But you have to bake it well and take time before adding the icing. There are very smart pro-active, analytics-driven capabilities today that can be added to CRM. But they will either only work or work better with a well-designed and proven platform system.”

Published in the Sunday Business Post - CONNECTED Supplement, March 2014