xRM – Managing Relationships With Business Software

Relationships Beyond Sales
Business relationships and contact management related to sales, marketing and sales related customer service have always had a home in standard CRM packages and for the most part, the pitch for traditional CRM has focused on those areas.

Today’s CRM systems now have more flexibility and extensibility that can be applied to other areas of the business. With rich workflow, document management, integration and customization capabilities, the CRM systems can be used to manage any relationship and not just that with the customer. The x in xRM refers to this type of use.
Instead of developing custom applications, spreadsheets or Access databases to manage relationships away from the sales cycle, you should consider looking at modern CRM software and see how it can be molded to manage any relationship that involves tracking communication, contracts, documents, meetings or timelines between one or more parties.

Where’s the Fit?

Examples of where this xRM can fit include:

  • Recruiting where there is a large pool or you want to maintain a relationship with applicants over time. xRM can also help you automate this process and even help you attract better or more responsive applicants by tracking them closer and communicating with them better than their other prospects.
  • Personnel Management if there is a need to track internal communications, meetings, and history or to manage internal requests. You may be able to extend or enhance your HR or build a better fit model for your HR needs.
  • Vendor Management outside of your purchasing or ERP system. When you need more information about your vendors or you want to build relationships with them and track communication with them, you can use xRM to capture the relationship and not just the numbers and purchase orders.
  • Legal Management related to patents, licensing bodies, OEM agreements, or any other legal relationship that depends on lots of communication, contact, recording of activity, or documentation.
  • Event Management for organizations that plan their own events, training, trade shows or product demonstrations. xRM can provide functionality related to attendance, scheduling and coordinating of follow-up with attendees.

Instead of customizing your current systems or trying to fit this information into another system that was not designed for it, you may be able to start with an xRM framework and build your system based on the open entity model these systems offer.

Business Models Not Focused on Product Sales
xRM can also be used to fit the needs of business that don’t fall into the standard sales and marketing CRM models. xRM may be a good fit for organizations with the following business models:

  • Professional Association – xRM can be used for membership management and member profile management.
  • Government or Non-Profit Agency – if you are providing services to people, xRM can help you manage your offerings and track your communication and relationships.
  • Shipping, Logistics or Services – if your business depends on providing services for manufacturers and distributors standard CRM and ERP models may not be a fit for your contact and relationship management. xRM may provide the flexibility you need to truly model and manage your relationships.

Of course you can still do CRM. You still need to manage your customer relationships. If you passed on CRM during the last wave of the market, now might be the time to reconsider. The cost of entry has declined, and the ability to integrate and customize has increased. You won’t be building a standalone system but you will be extending your existing ERP and other business applications.

If you have spent time adding CRM like capabilities to your ERP, Accounting, or Customer Services applications you may want to look at pulling them back out and implementing CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM/xRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is one example of a CRM system that is extensible to other models of use.
http://crm.dynamics.com/technology/crm-technology.aspx

Microsoft Dynamics is available as an on-premise solution or as an online/on demand applications
http://crm.dynamics.com/deployment/crm-deployment-types.aspx

Microsoft Dynamics offers standard Sales, Marketing, and Service modules
http://crm.dynamics.com/solutions/crm-solutions-overview.aspx

Microsoft Dynamics also offers Accelerators that can help you model the CRM/xRM to your business and extend the capabilities.
http://www.codeplex.com/crmaccelerators

By:  Neil Otto of   Meritide,   Minnesota Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner and Minneapolis GP Partner

12 thoughts on “xRM – Managing Relationships With Business Software”

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