Enterprises invest in ERP/CRM because they are seeking an opportunity to standardize business processes while rationalizing siloed environments. Consumer-driven markets have increased the need for large organizations to listen to their customers, driving the adoption of CRM applications enabled by mobile devices and social media. But investing in these packages is only the first step. Companies must follow up with the right steps to maximize their return on these software investments.
Gartner recently conducted a survey of 1523 qualified respondents from organizations with 500 or more employees to determine the IT budget spending plans for 2013 and 2014. CRM and ERP were among the top three software investments identified along with personal productivity tools.1 This isn’t surprising. ERP enables standardization of processes while eliminating duplication of functionality across multiple applications. CRM provides a holistic focus on the customer through their preferred Systems of Engagement.
Here are five concepts to consider when investing in CRM and ERP:
1. Business Processes. Are the business processes defined consistently across all business units? Consistency is vital, both in the definition and representation of processes. No ERP application can address the challenges of inconsistent levels of process adoption across the enterprise.
2. Applications Landscape. What is the current applications landscape? Is there a migration strategy for the resident data within the existing repositories? Are there applications that would remain after the deployment of the ERP application?
3. Service Integration. Co-existence of ERP and CRM packages is best achieved through the proper identification of services with a well-defined integration strategy. This strategy must effectively integrate with cloud service providers, using concepts such as Service Technology (introduced by Forbes blogger Joe McKendrick on Before There Was Cloud Computing, There was SOA). I would urge caution that history must not repeat itself when integrating to the cloud.
4. Customer Channels. Beyond capture and storage of customer data, enterprises must use CRM packages to provide a single, 360-degree view of the customer. This opens up cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Predictive analytics must be applied to this data to realize the return on information. Procuring a CRM package is just the first step. Enterprises must go social to truly understand what their customers want in a world of mobile interactions.
5. Trusted Partner. Deployment of ERP and CRM packages usually entails a transformation journey unique to the company. Enterprises are best served by a trusted partner who can serve as a GPS in their journey.
Gartner's survey certainly provides great insight into the mindset of the customer today. I would be very interested in the results of a future survey that asks enterprise-sized businesses if they realized value from their investment. Taking the necessary steps to address the considerations above will be a good start. I would be skeptical about companies that don't. Provided, of course, they are still around to respond to a survey!
What are priorities for 2014? What factors would you consider when implementing ERP and CRM packages? Please let me know.
1 Gartner, Press Release, Gartner Says Cloud and CRM Will Drive Enterprise Software Spending in 2013 and 2014, March 5, 2013.