Is my blog title just Click-Bait, in the same vein as “New cure for aging” or “Five easy ways to double your money overnight”? Well, I don’t have any way to double your money overnight but I do have some ideas on improving the bottom-line, Dear Back-Office Manager.
But first let me address the elephant in the room: Shouldn’t the sales and service managers be driving any initiative to implement CRM? The short answer is: Yes they should. In fact, those departments desperately want the 360-degree view of their prospects and customers, but today I want to look at CRM from the back-office and ERP point of view. The real question is “Why should you care?”
Back-office operations form the foundation of most businesses. You’re charged with sourcing, manufacturing, inventory, delivery, and financial management. It’s a hard job made even more challenging by the mountains of paperwork, endless requests for information, and fire-drills. Imagine if you will, an alternate universe where your well-oiled delivery machine extends seamlessly into the front-office. What would be different?
Easier Quoting and Ordering
A sales rep will be able to take a proposal from CRM and turn it directly into an order in the ERP system without having the order department re-enter the data. It’s much more efficient to review the sales orders for accuracy and save to your order management system with a click. You can grow the business without increasing headcount.
Tighter Inventory Management
Anyone with access rights can check on inventory availability in real time on their phones. How much time is wasted by sales folks and the back-office with phone calls, texts, and emails asking about available inventory? If your inventory management is further complicated with rolling inventory, giving visibility and control to the field to transfer, allocate, and reserve inventory improves utilization. Every inventory induced fire-drill we can avoid reduces further disruptions up the supply chain.
Lower Carrying Cost
Improve production forecasting by incorporating data from a well-defined sales pipeline. How often do you have to adjust forecast and material planning because of new ad-hoc information from the sales or service department? Obviously, having more timely pipeline information is always a benefit, but only if it’s structured consistently so the forecast team can interpret it consistently. Even the simplest CRM pipeline process can provide useful insights into future demand.
Streamline Account Management
And lastly, the entire organization can share a common view of your customers and deliver consistently high-quality service. Without integrated sales, service, & delivery processes, each department develops their own incomplete customer views. With good cross-department data, anyone can be empowered to make win-win decisions on behalf of the business and the customer.
So, Dear Back-Office Manager, should you care about CRM? Hopefully the answer is a resounding YES! The competition is getting faster and smarter. Customer loyalty is harder to build. And the back-office takes the blunt of market induced chaos. Integrating CRM with your ERP system won’t solve all the challenges you face, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the one or two areas where the back-office would enjoy real bottom-line benefits in this integrated world.
What are the steps in a CRM implementation? What are the biggest causes of failure? How long will it take?