A success guide to CRM from Information Technology perspective


The research work is majorly classified into seven different sections. The first section deals with a brief description of CRM, its rise in the industry, its importance in the organizations and its evolution. The next section deals with Electronic Customer Relationship Management, which is the web-version of Customer Relationship Management deployable in organizations. It is a collection of work put together between various Front-end systems, Data-handling technologies and Back-end systems. All these put together form the backbone of Customer Relationship Management. Third section deals with the approaches to Customer Relationship Management. Customer Service,Campaign ManagementandSales Force Automation(SFA) are core of the CRM system and they are discussed in detail. Apart from which other modules such as Operational CRM, Analytical CRM is also presented with a brief description. Fourth section deals with the modules of Customer Relationship Management which needs to be taken into consideration for developing a CRM software solution. Primarily the modules of importance in most of the organizations such as Marketing module, Service module, Sales module, and Call center module are dealt with. Each of the modules is in turn covered in detail encompassing the finer divisions in individual module. Fifth section focuses on the types of Customer Relationship Management. Business-to-Business CRM, Business to -Consumer CRM and other CRM related application areas, technical functionality and support required are presented with. Additionally each section is illustrated in detail so that a future organization/individual can have a quick understanding of their requirements and adapt a one which meets their requirements. Sixth, seventh sections provide the list of software vendors, their existing products and how one can select a software as per the needs and requirements of the user. This piece of research work mainly focuses on enabling an individual to understand one's requirements and facilitates the person in adopting a module which meets all the desired needs.

1. Introduction:

Information Technology has made a huge impact on how a business operates; thereby it is being seen as an important area of commerce which needs to be tapped. Despite the large scale investments in trying to automate a business entity, many businesses have failed to attract customers. The factors such as time frame of response, understanding customer needs and new ways to attract customers are making it difficult for the businesses to cope up with. Customers pose a key role in success of an e-business and it has called for extensive research in understanding the key areas of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the field of Information technology. Customer Relationship Management from the Information Technology perspective is called as Electronic Customer Relationship Management (ECRM).

1.1 What is CRM?

In today's market trend, customers are more educated, better informed, more technology aware and hence demanding more in the service they buy. So, the task becomes more challenging for business managers in attracting the profitable customers. Hence, small as well as big Information technology companies are working hard for maintaining good customer relationships and reaching customer satisfaction. To improve business strategy and plans, firstly, companies need to emphasis more on customers needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger customer relationships. The very first approach comes in this methodology is CRM. CRM stands for the customer relationship management. It is the process or methodology used to interact with customers, which will help bring together lots of information about customers, sales, marketing effectiveness, and customer responses and market trends. It helps businesses use available technology and resources to gain behavior and value of the customer. It broadly covers concepts used by companies to manage their customer relationships very effectively by capturing, storing and analyzing customer information. For example by having such database created with customers need, matching customer needs and product plans and offerings, knowing what other products customer had purchased, etc. can improve product quality, indirectly improving customer relationships. Thus, CRM is the one of the important aspect in the business industries. (Eric Williams 2006)

1.2 Evolution of CRM

CRM must start with an industry business strategy, which will offer positive changes in organization and work processes, which are then enabled by Information technology. In 1960s, academic researchers found that the 4Ps marketing framework i.e. product, price, place and promotion was less valuable than ongoing business relationships. By 1980s, marketing teams used to describe his new focus on understanding customer segment and achieving high customer satisfaction. In 1990s, CRM became the umbrella term; computer systems were deployed to support sales and service processes. By late 1990s, the real impact of these systems was outside the corporate world. Explosive growth in the internet usage broadened the concept as e-CRM to manage online customers. Now, multi-channel systems are available to support direct, internet and partner channels to allow user to use whatever mode of communication, they pleased. (Digital Publishing Solutions May 2007)

These systems could typically answer many of the questions such as:

* How can oneself improve sales activities to have better idea of business improvement.

* How one can improve capability for leading the generation, account management and opportunities.

* How to make meaningful decisions on measuring the results from marketing campaign.

* How to resolve customer service troubles, make queue time shorter, make customer happy by offerings.

* All in all, how one can improve customer relationship.

To answer these questions, CRM was developed to provide best operating practices in sales, marketing and customer services. This is where, companies started using CRM to store customer history, real time activities accumulation, which each department could bring up a record and see all customer interactions.

1.3 Why is CRM important?

Everyone faces with the products and services at every single turn. But in realty, many of the product and service providers do actually not know the persons those using them. Major corporations failed to realize that it is the customer who is their biggest ally. Several millions of dollars are lost yearly because they failed to make profit, beat their competitors and stay ahead in this race. They wasted their money in marketing and endeavoring to gain the customers. They all are prone to make same mistake at some point of time. The main reason behind this failure was the attitude of companies towards their customers. The customer is the real king, who makes decision on failure and success of any service or product company. Many of the companies are not open to customer's suggestions and more often that they do not provide the customer with a proper avenue and expel their ideas. This often leads to customer's unhappiness and eventually their loss. Here comes the real need of the CRM. (Rick Cook, 2008)

CRM take into consideration the customer's need and behavior towards services and products provided by companies. Companies can define their business strategy that primarily focuses on the customer, their ideas and suggestions. Benefits of CRM are listed below as business perspective:

* Increased sales through better timing by analyzing needs based on historic databases.

* Identifying improvement areas by understanding specific customer requirements.

* Increasing business, by highlighting and suggesting alternatives or enhancements.

* Identifying profit making customers.

* Better marketing of products.

* Enhanced customer satisfaction and retention.

* Enhanced customer loyalty.

* Improved quality communication and networking.

* Increased overall efficiency with reduction of total cost of sales.

* Better stand against global competition.

Once business starts to look after existing customers effectively, effort can be made to gain new customer thus expanding market value.

2. Electronic Customer Relationship Management:

Electronic Customer Relationship Management (ECRM) is the current trend with most business organizations be it small or large. The companies are hesitant in using the traditional strategies for running its businesses. The customers are treated as the most important part of the implementing a business strategy. That is the reason why ECRM has gained a lot of importance in the past decade. Romano (2001) defined ECRM as, “ECRM is concerned with attracting and keeping economically valuable customers and eliminating less profitable ones”.

This aspect of the CRM which deals with the customers over its online business portals helps to identify the key customers and by spending more resources on them to make the business run better. The solutions offered to these businesses are of wide range and they are often sold as a package at very high prices. The nature of a business plays a vital role as adopting these CRM packages is not only waste of money but also huge waste of time. This could even lead to loosing customer base which are absolutely essential for running business.

It is highly important to retain customers for a business as a recent study by McKinsey & Co. revealed that if there is gain of 10% repeat customers then it will add about a profit of 10% to the company (Sims, 2000). It is highly obvious that a successful business should try and retain customers even though it is at a cost of their own terms. It is important to understand the three requirements that a CRM must address to be successful from IT point of view.

2.1 Front-end Systems

In 2.1 shown below, the front-end systems constitute the key aspects of the business such as sales force & market automation, customer service automation and application software. In case of online business or retailer, sales force and market automation is totally dependent on how the website looks and what features does it provide in order to attract and retain customers. Tracking all the customers and identify the potential customers will help the managers to take important decisions and capture the market. Customer service automation is a must as it the only place for a customer to reach out if they need any help. It includes setting up of call centers, communication technology infrastructure and websites. As these represent the face of a business it is important to automate these technologies. (Boon et al. 2002)

2.2 Data-Handling technologies

The number of customers who shop increase day by day and it is impossible to keep track of them. As a result it has become obvious that one has to employ software tools which can manage the customer information and also be able to provide a proper links between them to help serve the customers. The techniques of data warehousing, data mining and knowledge management helps by making the CRM a better choice. In 2.1 below, the important modules which are part of data-handling technologies are shown.

Data warehousing manages the company's data which is stored on a backend system and maintains the records regarding the data such as extracting, loading data in the repository and also managing the metadata. Data warehouses consists of business intelligent tools, tools to retrieve and manage data. Alex (2000) defines Data mining as a tool that automates the detection of relevant patterns within a database. The term explains how much a tool like this would help a business prosper; it gives the business, time to focus on the long term customers of the company and address various other issues. It helps in building strategy close to how the patterns reflect. Knowledge management uses the data warehouse and works as an intelligence tool by trying to establish new links within the data. For example, if a person searches for an item and if it is not found on the database then a tool like this could help the business by recording the information and possibly the customer. This improves the efficiency of business and customer satisfaction. These technologies are evidently a mark of the high standards a business can establish in order to survive their competitors within the global market (Compton, 2004).

2.3 Back-end Systems

It is the backbone of the business without which everything else goes in utter vain. The data integrity is often considered a major player in getting all the acts together i.e. by bringing together the front-end systems and data handling technologies. It is important to integrate technologies into CRM as it forms a good strategy to work along with all the applications within the system. (Boon et al. 2002)

The hierarchy present at the back-end systems as shown in 2.1 depicts the non-sales departments such as application software, enterprise wide applications, and ERP and supply chain management. In first stage, organization starts to analyze the Information systems available in place to suit their needs. The application software is deployed across the platforms they feel necessary and then it is important to establish a link between these applications which are called Enterprise Wide Applications (EWA). These help in interchanging the data between the application software and the systems. This could help the business establish all important background work as it highly important to maintain synergy between them and also update them whenever necessary to increase the speed with which they work. ERP forms the next stage of hierarchy wherein it integrates the EWA with the supply chain management which is a part of the front end and also data handling technologies. (Boon et al. 2002)

The technology is considered to be the key player for any organizational success as it can be seen from the above literature. ‘IT infrastructure generally has been described as a set of IT services, including communications management, standard management, security, IT education, service management, application management, data management and IT research and development' (Hwang et. al., 2002).

ECRM is in short, the customer relationship management which is implemented electronically across the organizations. As CRM is mostly implemented as web based applications, the systems mentioned above play a crucial role in the management of CRM from small and medium businesses to very large scale organizations. Proceeding further, we will see various approaches in the implementation of CRM or ECRM.

3) Approaches to CRM:

There are different approaches to CRM implementation and it is presented in different packages focusing on different aspects. In generalCustomer Service,Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Campaign Management are considered as core aspects of the CRM system.

Customer service:

Customer service is the provision for the customers before, during and after the purchase. “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation." (Jamier L. Scott. 2006).

Its importance depends on the product, industry and customer. Customer service provided by a person or by automated mean as self-service (for example, Internet service). In bookRules are to break and Laws are to Follow, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. wrote that "customers have memories. They will remember you, whether you remember them or not." Further, "customer trust can be destroyed at once by a major service problem, or it can be undermined one day at a time, with a thousand small demonstrations of incompetence.”

From the point of organization view, customer service plays important role in generation of income and revenue. From this perspective, customer service must be included as part of the overall approach to the systematic improvement.

Campaign management:

It may happen that company may not always require all the details pertaining to particular customer's history. In such cases to avoid large sending of data and insecurity, many of the organizations prefer campaign management. Enterprise campaign management solutions allow customer to provide centralized databases to send one or multiple dialers. Rather than sending down all the record, part of the record will be send as and when required. This simplifies the management of the complex dialing campaigns.

Sales Force Automation:

These are the information systems, which automatically records all the stages in a sale process. Such systems keep track of the all contacts that has been made with the customer, purpose of the contact, and any follow up that might be required. This ensures that sales efforts will not be duplicated, reducing the business risks. It also lists potential customers of related products. It might happen that different department may contact same customer number of times for same purpose. To avoid such a risk, SFA must be fully integrated in all the departments that deal with customer service management.

3.1 Various approaches of CRM:

* Operational CRM

* Analytical CRM

* Sales Intelligence CRM

* Campaign management

* Collaborative CRM

* Consumer Relationship CRM

(White PaperonArchitecture for CRM approachesin Financial Services)

Operational CRM:

Operational CRM provides support for front end business processes, which includes sales, marketing and services. Interactions with customers are generally stored in customer's database history and company staff can retrieve information as and when required. So, the need for direct contact with customer for his requirement details will be eliminated and reaching to the customer at right time and right place will be more preferable. Operational CRM processes customer's data for various purposes such as managing campaign, marketing automation, sales force automation, sales management system, etc. Few of the benefits of the operational CRM systems are as follows:

* It delivers personalized and effective sales, marketing and service through multiple channels.

* Enable 360 degree view of the customer's details while interacting with them.

* Sales or service department can easily access history of the all customers' interaction, without referring directly to customer.

In sales source automation, company can automate their critical sales and sales force management tasks. Few of the examples include account management, contact management, forecasting, and sales administration keeping track of customer preferences as well as performance management. (Effective CRM Consulting 2009)

In customer service and support, many companies automate some service requests, complaints, product returns and information requests. Key infrastructure requirements of CSS include volume processing capability and reliability, multiple channels support such as web, phone/fax, face-to-face, etc.

In case of the Marketing Automation, information regarding business environment, industry trends macro-environment variables is stored. And then business strategy is defined. Predictive business model is defined.

Analytical CRM:

Analytical CRM includes the process of understanding the behaviors of customers, analyzing this data for marketing effectiveness and planning strategies of cross-selling, up-selling, etc.

The process of analytical CRM starts with analyzing the customer profiles by targeting various categories of customers and evaluating their responses. These responses can be tracked using customer complaints or through transactional data or by direct customer contacts through satisfaction survey. This data of attitudinal and behavioral responses of customers is input for the next process which is nothing but customer behavior modeling. This includes building of predictive models according to the analysis data for various set of customers. The customer behavioral modeling helps to understand the homogenous customer segments. Also the methods like association discovery which is nothing but understanding the associations between the customer needs.

Here only Operational CRM and Analytical CRM are discussed as they are different from the other approaches. The other approaches of CRM namely, Sales CRM, Campaign management, Consumer relationship CRM explanations are not furnished here as they are presented in very much details in the subsequent section, modules of CRM.

4) Modules of CRM:

The key functionality of a CRM solution can be studied under 4 basic modules. They are Marketing, Service, Sales and Call centre. All these modules are Collaborative, Analytical and Operational.

4.1 Marketing Module

The marketing module ofCRMcomprises of functionalities regarding short term execution of marketing related activities and long term planning within the company.
It also helps in activities like planning, Campaign Management and lead management. Marketing module enables different communication channels to run marketing campaigns by the company, which targets potential buyers in using a product or a group of products as a message. One positive way to increase marketing effectiveness is to get better the way leads are captured and acted on. The old method is when an investigation is presented to the organization's web site; an email is generated and delivered to the department of marketing. Novel way is, a new prospect record is automatically formed in the master database which presents the lead source and campaign, assigns it to a sales representative, and emails the prospect with information or instructions scores the lead. Leads can be allocated upon product curiosity, region, or any additional defined criteria. Automated processing is defined by quicker routing and the facility to scrutinize the lead progress on a real time basis as leads are qualified and converted. The whole lot is processed and followed up in the CRM database, but more importantly such types of workflow improvements effects in greater conversion rates. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

CRM marketing tools afford the infrastructure to prop up a huge variety of lead generation strategies which may be by email marketing, through advertising, direct mail, or trade shows. CRM also facilitates the marketer with metrics which validate financial plans and establishes the worth of marketing to management and sales.

Target Marketing:

Attaining the correct message at the correct time from the right people is vital. Wish to aim only the decision makers those with a practical role of engineering for technical illustration at trade fare? In order to win over, organizations need to elevate consciousness among their most accessible objectives, at the appropriate time with less cost and endeavor. CRM enables an institute to manipulate the valuable knowledge captured through accessible customer relations. As CRM is in place as infrastructure, setting up and maintaining an effective route for getting customer support CRM and sales customers to enter required knowledge into the database is simple. Have a glance at marketing, the sales and support business processes and workflows, and then categorize communication and marketing opportunities. Mixed with a focus on marketing targets and tactics, now have a map to yield the value in CRM by target marketing. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

Campaign Management and Effectiveness Tracking:

The CRM solutions have incorporated marketing tools to support complete campaign management to conduct the webinars, the marketing campaigns, seminars, trainings, events etc. Choose targets, give invitations, obtain registrations through the web, deliver automated replies and reminders, create attendee lists, and carry out satisfaction surveys. Each detail, offline and online, may be watched, measured, and administered as part of the operation. Every movement that has been made with each of the individual analysis and clientele is captured.

Outcome is radically improved marketing administration effectiveness and efficiency, along with a current, shared, and a complete picture of every touch which is made with each client and viewpoint. Icing on the cake is that marketers can obtain benefit of the data obtained to observe real-time campaign metrics, and gauge the efficacy of individual campaigns by kind, time period or medium.

Email Marketing and Communications:

Email marketing plan is the core of marketing success today. Email marketing is timely, cheap, and when done exactly, effectual. Along with CRM, the sales and customer support staff capture and update email addresses in the main CRM repository during their usual tasks. It's vital to confine and keep up an updated email database of clientele and scenarios.

Modules of CRM have complete email marketing facilities built in. A lot of of them do have the capability to send batch emails and trace the reads. However there is a big market of well-known on demand email marketing attributes which “plug in” to CRM functionality and offer considerably better features to make generating professional email interactions better and perk up the deliverability. In addition, email programs also help to tackle the intricacies of government regulations, tracing, and delivering. If used jointly with CRM, it will have a totally fledged email marketing solution which is professional, acquiescent and effectual. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

Marketing Administration:

CRM can supervise marketing administration activities, which in numerous cases are time intense, not possible, and pricey to administer devoid of automation.

Newsletter List Management:

Saving and continuing supporting the lists of subscribers for alerts and newsletters may be a full time activity, but the task may be automated by combining a web page to the CRM repository where lists are followed up. The integration allows the subscriber to check current preferences, modify and append to their subscriptions, the login, and authenticates requests and one can send the customer an email to corroborate and thank them. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

Literature Fulfillment:

CRM modules can track supplies and rearrange points and direct orders for dispensation. Moreover, the user wants the ability to follow up fulfillment requests and check their order records. In few cases, literature fulfillment requests are required to come from associates, prospects, or clients via web site, all of which can be contained.

Event Management:

Events managing require lots of dexterity. A site must be booked, salespersons contracted, presenters scheduled, fund-raisers signed, broadcasts sent, registrations noted, fee processed, and of course the affair must be held. By making the most of CRM for event management, marketing department can with no trouble and efficiently carry out far more events, whilst building a record of sources concerned that may be required in the prospect.

Customer Surveys:

CRM systems can carry survey administration and consecutively can get better end results for both the corporation and the consumer. Survey invitations may be sent by email from the CRM system, provoking the member to click on a link which guides them to a web survey on organization site. The email address or an approved identifier rooted in the link can combine the study to the member's details in the CRM record, where it can get details and also reported about. The CRM workflow may also send announcements as soon as a survey is received. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

4.2 Service Module

The service module of CRM focuses on how effectively the system is managing customer service which is either planned or unplanned. It helps in activities like Service Contract Management, Service Order Management, and Planned Services management, Installed Base (Equipment) Management, Warranty Management, Service Level Agreement Management, Scheduling, Resource Planning and Knowledge Management.

Service contract management:

* Maintain a variety of service contracts, including labor contracts, standard parts and usage-based contracts.

* Administer service contracts, manage service-level agreements, automatically verify entitlement, and alert agents when a customer's contract is about to expire.

Claim and warranty management:

* Synchronize with third-party logistic providers to avoid unnecessary goodwill allowances and ensure timely customer credits.

* Handle the entire warranty and claims process, from RMA (return merchandise authorization) to receipt and inspection.

Maintenance and Installation:

* Minimize downtime with planned protection service.

* Predict impact of new product installation for accurate and fast service.

* Track customers' installed base of products and their pattern with graphical hierarchical demonstration.

Customer support and service:

* Access data on the service histories, the service entitlements and contracts, the installed base, service levels, and the warranties by an easy-to-use communication center screen

(SAP Customer Relationship Management on Environment 2006)

4.3 Sales Module

This Module ofCRM Solutionsfocuses mainly on the sales team of the company to execute the pre-sales process and manage, making it more organized. The sales teams in most companies are responsible for capturing customer interaction, capturing any leads or opportunities, the CRM helps them to process this data and monitor it in the future. This helps in organizing all relevant data captured and received for a deal to be put into one place, it could hold data as expected budget, prospective customers, total spending, key players, important dates, products interested in and expected closing dates of a deal.

Each of these can be stand only applications depending on organizational need. It is important that the right software is selected at the right time and more importantly implemented correctly for any CRM to be effective. Important key sales procedures includes

Sales forecasting and planning:

* Anticipated sales volume over time and provide a total picture of predictable revenue. Augments the precision of sales forecasts and demand plans.

* Increase performance with coordinated planning and implementation of sales actions across all channels.

Territory management:

* Gets better resource utilization with apparent visibility into accessibility and assignments.

* Consign the right sources at the correct time in the exact locations to optimize team performance.

* Maximize distribution of sales sources and account reporting across clearly defined areas.

Accounts and contacts management:

* Present a single, inclusive view of all data required to supervise sales accounts.

* Capture, monitor and track all vital information about prospects, customers, and partners.

* Access key contacts, detailed customer profiles, critical relationships, critical relationships, and the position of all recent communications from any place and at any time.

Activity management:

* Seamlessly synchronize e-mail, calendar entries, contacts, and tasks with important groupware solutions.

* Handle customer visits, account profiles and activity-driven sales activities.

* Focus on the combined energy of sales team events to proven to promote money-making business.

* Promote well-organized team partnership with better harmonization of sales activities and the transparency.

Opportunity management:

* Qualify, distribute, and tracks leads to the most apt sales experts.

Scrutinize the translation of opportunities into returns:

* Recognize stalled deals, replicate strategies, check quota attainment to push deals through the sales cycle quicker, and analyze the quantity and quality of sales opportunities with the pipeline performance management.

Order capture and Quotation management:

* Ensure reliable, precise, and up-to-date pricing regardless of the sales channel.

* Amalgamate end to end business processes to optimize supply chain planning, coordinate billing activities, and ensure the well-organized fulfillment of patron orders.

* Guides sales professionals with configuration process of the merchandise to ensure that intricate product and service recommendations completely meet consumer requirements.

* Produce capture consumer orders, exact quotes, verify product availability, and follow orders through to the attainment process.

Sales contract management:

* Naturally combine with back-end financial and accounts receivable procedures to process the payments, process claims, generate invoices, and credit returns.

* Build up, organize long-term customer contracts, observe sales process from inquiry to completion, slot in customer agreements to enduring client processes.

Sales performance management:

* Build up, manage and put into practice compensation plans to hold on to and inspire sales professionals to be victorious allowing them to trail performance and replicate potential returns of deals in the pipeline.

* Boost profitability and income by strategically employing incentive compensation to line the targets of personal sales professionals with those of the group.

Sales analytics:

* Examine the complete health of the business by efficiently managing budgets, generating precise forecasts, proactively checking pipeline performance, and correctly allocating resources to meet up the revenue goals.
(Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software from SAP)

4.4 Call Center Module

A call center is a complicated voice operations center that provides a full range of inbound or outbound call-handling services, high-volume, typically including customer support, operator services and directory assistance. It generally refers to reservations centers, information lines or customer service centers and help desks. A call center consists of a sophisticated computer systems, complex telecommunication infrastructures and skilled service representatives organized to effectively manage the outgoing and incoming telephone calls. CRM call center module captures the vast amounts of data in prioritize call center service, call center operation, and direct incoming calls to the appropriate service representatives.

The above modules discussed are in high demand from small and medium businesses to large corporate CRM implementations. Marketing, Service, Sales, and Call centre modules which are the crucial components to every business is present in almost all the business CRM applications. If a specific business is in need of other components, those have to be studied before thinking whether to decide on the additional component or not. (Functional Modules of CRM Software Applications 2005)

5) Types of CRM:

The CRM software comes in different packages and is classified based on the implementation at the client level. Even though it is normally classified as Operative CRM, Analytical CRM and Collaborative CRM at the different levels discussed earlier such as front-end systems, data-handling technologies and back-end systems respectively. This article primarily considers the software as it focuses on the IT perspective of the CRM. This classification generally takes into consideration as to how the CRM is implemented from the IT perspective by giving the exact idea as to what the current technological trends are and what kind of software tools are used and how they are implemented.

Essentially the CRM can be classified as

* Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM

* On-Demand CRM

* On-premise CRM

This type of classification helps in analyzing the current technological prospects and the current trends which are involved in setting up a CRM. As it is aimed at preparing a guide for new online retailers and help them to choose from different software tools and solutions available to establish CRM software. These CRM solutions are only few of the currently available in the market but a detailed research will have to be made into other CRM and will be presented before an approach to write a final guide is made.

a) Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet (Anon 2008).

SaaS has became an increasingly widespread delivery model as essential technologies which support web services, service oriented architecture and new development approaches. Ajax which is a saas CRM became more popular and at the same time increasing availability of broad band service made users to access many areas of the world. The host application management and the software on demand model are the two different models for SaaS identified by IDC. The host application management provides customers a hosts commercially software and delivers it on the web where as in software on demand model the customer gets network based access to an application in a single copy which is specially created for SaaS distribution. Administration is easier and Updates are made automatically

b) On-Demand CRM

This is the solution most of the companies are looking forward to as it provides the companies with seamless integration and the easiest deployment of all CRM software programs the entire enterprise will experience a streamlined workflow at a much lower cost than traditional on-premise CRM solutions and other on-demand CRM software vendors.

c) On-premise CRM

The name itself indicates that on-premise is a CRM solution which completely sits on the business side of the organization. It is completely setup in the office and it doesn't depend on any other external people to manage it. It is run by the help of the office staff such as it managers. (Anon 2008).

Based on the needs and requirements by the organizations, CRM is classified as follows:

1. CRM: Business-to-Business (B2B) CRM

Business-to-Business CRM makes sure that companies are capable of handling the complete lifecycle of consumer and partners. It helps in establishing a faster sales channel by means of conventional or web-based applications (which run online).

Various modules such as Automation, Marketing, Project execution and Contract management make together Business-to-Business CRM.
Marketing Automation

Marketing automation forms a perfect blend between service and sales corporations. The CRM package of software should be able to meet different goals under various environments. (Like Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business).

By knowing the name, buying habits, location, income ranges etc., the software solution of CRM marketing automation must be able to recognize the customers. Solutions provided by CRM software should be able to target those segments and differentiate market segments in several and suitable ways.

Furthermore if it integrates analytical components such as predicting, supporting, reporting the consumer behaviors, it will be proficient to capture and improve the needs and patterns. (Like Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business).
Sales Force Automation (SFA)

Sales cycle is automated by the Sales Force Automation(SFA)by connecting internal sales, external sales, support, the consumer care, the administration, and the technical assistance provided. The principal goal is to improve the effectiveness of sales, support teams and amplify the communication between them.
Customer Service and Support

Organizations are being helped by customer service and supporting in understanding them and anticipating their interests in different enterprise services and products by analyzing the processes of the company from marketing to servicing.

The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications are fundamentally front-end tools framed for facilitating consolidating, capturing, disseminating and analyzing the data enterprise-wide from the existing and prospective customers.

Multi-channel interaction management solutions enable organizations to extract the potential from every of the interaction. By multi-channel interaction management the organizations are facilitated in tracking, routing, prioritizing, organizing and reporting all interactions irrespective of channel type and provides the real-time and historical reporting on every of such interactions. These abilities help companies in understanding their customers; the business practices adopted and provide them the ways to modify their existing procedures. (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

Partner management

Deployed CRM software solution should have capability of providing a variety of services such as pre planned performance records, partner supervision records, partners' sales and applications to help carry out competent and most excellent practices relating to diverse partner management proceedings.

Various modules on consumer defined rules and workflows as web based are being provided and supported by Partner management. These modules comprise primary functionality of partner information management (in creating, updating, searching, and in deleting), partner management, the opportunity and lead source tracking and sending the automatic announcements, and the chance & lead task and mechanical notification.

Contract management and creation

Managing the contract lifecycle either electronically or in a much conventional manner in organizations is powered by Contract management and creationcategory. This lifecycle includes the actions from contract amendment and conception to contract renewal and ending. Certainly all the modules are based on customer definite rules and anticipated workflow by customers. Multiple currencies are also supported.

The process of contract data record management, an user-maintainable library of pre-defined and designed contract templates of layouts and clauses, other tools to implement the best practices adopted by the organization pertaining to contract management activities, and contract-related analytics (charts as well as graphs) available for exhibiting on dashboards and on reports which are pre-designed should be encompassed by developed software solution of CRM.

Project and Team Management

In managing project team and project lifecycle from the process of project start-up and role definition to project implementation and completion, and personnel assignment all of which are based on consumer defined workflow and rules: in industries these are qualified by project and team management.

The requirements such as facilitating a plan and personnel statistics record management procedure, a customer rectifiable collection of project templates (pre-designed), tools in helping the implementation of best practices pertaining to project and team management activities, and contract-related analytics (graphs and charts) presented for display on reports and dashboards which are pre-planned, should be able to met by proposed CRM software solution.

The CRM software solution can be asked furthermore to meet the requests such as supporting the applications of third party client-based project management. E.g.: For instance Microsoft (MS) Project.

2. CRM: Business-to-Consumer (B2C) CRM

Corporations manage their total customer lifecycle; communicate successfully and aptly with its customers and to quickly start up sales channel by enabling Business to consumer (B2C) CRM.

CRM software solution is to provide all the applications relevant for organizations in analyzing them better (client profiling, consumer behavior study, and the behavioral pattern recognition [BPR]) so as to serve them well (by automatic response and notification, merchandise recommendation, personalization, expectation of demand for merchandise, deliverance of approaching real-time operational information store) and for clientele in concluding actions online (calling, presenting, purchase tracking, and in inventory cataloging).

Internet Sales

For the customers sales on internet, it enables to search the products portfolios, select as per their benefit and purchase the product online. In order to enable so, the deployed CRM software solution should provide the product portfolio online along with the accessibility of prices of the products, safe payment transaction processing with shopping basket management, and the profile information management (from registration, payment, procurement history, and delivery and invoice addresses).

Extra features such as product proposal (cross-sell and up sell), personalization, and order execution, acceptance, rejection, and tracking may also be provided with the CRM software solution. (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

Email Response Management

Reporting capabilities are included with rule-based routing. The incoming mails from customers with automated guide through questionnaires and outgoing mails with the consumer's information are managed by email response management.

Business Intelligence and B2C Analytics

B2C Analytics & Business Intelligence(BI)are applications which work logically and they use special neural networks, some profile settings in peer groups to locate a kind of rules based techniques, transactions, and these frame the limit for the so called “normal” consumer behavior.

3. CRM: Other CRM-Related Application Areas

Within the entire customer lifecycle (prospect, suspect, user, visitor, client and lead) the latest CRM software solutions allows one to examine, calculate, collect, report, and take out all kinds of information linked to one's clientele and their conduct.

Different CRM related application areasinclude a cluster of applications to help one determine, whom to target, for which action one wishes to call your patrons for, and at what time and how to go into action mode from the data thus collected.

Email Marketing

Electronic form ofdirect marketing is known as Email marketing. This is one of the most efficient ways for communicating with their precious or most likely customers in order to call them for approved events. Perhaps, by enhancing the relationship with their consumers, thus people get encouraged to make business repeatedly with them, and if well done, this builds the brand credibility, recognition, and loyalty. (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

5 outmost crucial modules should be provided by a CRM software solution

* A mailing list management, consisting of tools to direct list managers, the list crowds, the list agents, list leasing, and recipient related data usage (the demographics, targeting or segmentation, psychographics, the privacy with showing or implied consent like subscribe/unsubscribe management).

* A mailing campaign management(messages sent), as well as tools to manage by using trigger based messaging, and bulk sending.

* A mailing content management, comprising of modules to handle message formats (christened to act, subject line designer, and multi level message personalization) to enable tracking, and to optimize message deliverability.

* A mailing bounce management, consisting of tools to administer bounce back management, and replies to suspected spam grievances.

* Campaign competence (a mailing tracking and report management), including tools to enable computation of unique clicks, bounce rate,open rate, click-through rate by position, click-through rate(CTR); while allowing one to share this information whether internally with their project management, or advertisers by way of the generation of cross campaign and consumer definable enabled action reports, outwardly with one's cohorts.

A variety of message outlines for variety of information (the lead creation, newsletter, business email, etc.) graphical designs and premeditated management details, and the mechanisms to help execute finest practices, the fulfillment of internet standards, and the legislative rules pertaining to various email marketing activities must be provided by a CRM software solution. (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

Relationship Capital Management (RCM)

Sales organizations are powered by the Relationship capital management(RCM) in dramatically accelerating their sales cycle by rapidly stock-taking and scripting their individual and social dealings, whether outside (worldwide associations) or inside (limited associations), in order toarrive at, aim, andcontrol key judgment makers and influencers much capably.

Even though one may find an enormous literature amalgamation of the two concepts, RCM is notper seequivalent to CRM. Nevertheless, a CRM software solution can be classified as one of the paraphernalia available to carry relational capital management, chiefly in the phases of both data dispatching and assembling.

Relationship capital management is the formalization of instinctively created good practices that are practiced at the most successful sales professionals. This is also knownas the corporate social networking management(CSNM).

Survey Software

This survey softwaredeals with the business intelligence tools directing at increasing the customer loyalty, and the merchandise acceptance by making sure that the client needs are well understood, addressed and served.

The survey software solution is supposed to provide the following standard capabilities:

* The survey supervision (deployment and management)

* The survey blueprint (survey content)

* The survey scrutiny (reports)

Sales Proposal Automation Software

The Sales proposal automation softwarefine tunes the method of responding to arequest for proposals(RFP) by automating the proposal production, enabling it to be faster, easier, and much efficient. (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

The software of Sales proposal automation must also provide tools to determine if presenting a proposal is worth regarding the effort and the time used up.

The Sales proposal software ought to support the below features:

· Decision analysis on Proposal submission (bid/no-bid analysisbased on evaluation criteria and requirements)

o The bid/no-bid decision matrix,

o A no-bid letter,

o earlier winning ratio,

o The bid/no-bid checklist,

o a bid or no-bid decision matrix, and

o Letter of intent.

· Collaborative project management

o Consumer definable approval workflow and due dates,

o Writing the concurrent documents,

o Query assignment to specific experts and collaborators,

o Tracing proposal conception advancement, and

o Email supported following up of actions of the team associates.

· Content management

o Easy to import initial RFP,

o Content import fromXML files and Microsoft (MS) Excel spreadsheets,

o Capability of using the content further(look for, duplicate, and use from earlier projects or patterns),

o Providing support to winning themes and definition of strategies,

o Attachment of files,

o Fully internationalization (Unicode support), and

o Customized feel and look.

· Compliance matrix(“requirements matrix”)

o Routine references (RFP requirements vs. proposal solutions),

o Scheme alignment (proposal validation against compliance matrix),

o Requirement matrix alignment (compliance matrix validation against RFP),

o Classification of necessary data set forth in the relevant planned way outs and the RFP.

A CRM software solution must present the general proposal outline, with a mix of templates for the majority of significant proposal sections:

* Compliance matrix,

* Cover letter(transmittal letter),

* Budget,

* Proposed solution (schedule, objectives, method, and scope),

* Analysis of needs,

* Facilities,

* Staff,

* Conclusion,

* References and credentials,

* Executive summary, and

* Appendices

(Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

4. CRM: Technical Functionality and Support

The Technical Functionality and Supportmodule covers a cluster of functionalities supporting the vital technical and business pre-requisites.

In order to do so, a CRM software solution must provide functionalities like the automation of workflow, the concept of internationalization, accountable to, the document supervision, the CRM analytics and control panels, the business vertical unit availability (in support of the business part), the supervision and safety, movable alternatives, the technical fit, the assimilation, the customization, and the replication (on behalf of the technical side) and synchronization.

The CRM software solution retailers should primarily provide an ongoing support, particularly the implementation support, training, and the ongoing technical support. (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

Business Functionality

The Business Functionalityprovides the comprehensive BPM (Business Process Management) capabilities required to automate the many-step business processes common to total modern organizations, long-lived and their value retail chains.

Technical Functionality

The Technical Functionalitydefines the procedural architecture of the software solution to CRM, and its technological environment in which the software solution of CRM can run fruitfully. Sub criteria comprises of CRM software solution architecture, communications and the protocol support and integration capabilities, platform and database support, the software usability and the administration, and application standards support. Comparatively to the other evaluation criteria, the finest practice selections put a lesser relative importance on the technology criterion software solution of CRM.

Anyway, this apparently subordinate importance is deceptive, as the CRM software solution technology decisive factors typically houses the greater part of the choosing organization's essential and compulsory criteria that usually include the client, the server, the protocol, the support to the database, and the scalability of application & supplementary architectural abilities. The description of mandatory criteria within this set frequently allows the customer in rapidly narrowing down the long list of possible vendors to a short list of appropriate solutions which pass the muster comparatively to the majority of essential obligatory criteria of selection. (Customer Relationship Management (CRM) RFP template Sample)

While undergoing the process of CRM software solution selection, the great deal of attention is paid to the useful functional competences of the software solution to CRM being appraised. As this characteristic is evenly important, paying no attention to the technical mechanisms through which the software solution of CRM in fact operates may be lethal to the project of software solution selection of CRM.

Ongoing CRM Solution Support

The ongoing CRM Solution Support encompasses the administrators, the training for users, the implementation support, developers, and the ongoing technical support.

6) Different Vendors in market and their solutions

This section mainly emphasizes upon detailing out the various software solutions of Customer Relationship Management provided by service providers. There are many vendors in the market who are providing software solutions to CRM. The following are a few of the major solutions providers:

Amdocs Limited, Axonom, Ardexus, CDC Software, Clear C2, Consona Corporation, Firstwave Technologies, FrontRange Solutions, Interchange Solutions, Maximizer Software, Microsoft Corporation, NetSuite, OnContact Software, Optima Technologies, Oracle Corporation,Relavis Corporation, RightNow Technologies, Sage Software, Salesforce.com, SalesPage Technologies, SAP AG, StayinFront,SugarCRM,SwordGroupand update Software AG.

In this document a few of the existing solutions provided by few big corporate are presented and discussed in detail.

6.1 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Technology

Professionals in technology see Microsoft Dynamics CRM as an easy one to customize and build. One can:

* Integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM seamlessly with other Microsoft software, and with other third-party solutions.

* Automates the business processes to be much faster.

* Customize, control the data access from highly advanced threats of security.

This builds a very good integration across the organization with the help of Web services.

CRM Technology

Business Process Automation: Decrease Costs, Improve Results

Plenty of the organizations are facing the problems in completely integrating the automated CRM solutions into their established businesses. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is so designed to be compatible with the existing processes, also providing the access of day to day tools to the employees. It can decrease the training costs, reduce the ramp up time, and decrease the frustrations which in result are encouraging the adoption of this tool.

Gives an extra edge to:

· The organization and workflows at personnel level.

· The extensible workflow model (related to on-premise and partner-hosted offerings)

· Customizable workflow actions

· Business Logic Extensions: Pre- and post-events on all platform executions of event-based plug-ins.

· The client-side form events, providing features like drop-down fields which auto-adjust with selections of the user.
CRM Security: The information is power—Data Management made easy

Data access customization and controlling is made much simpler. Microsoft Dynamics CRM facilitates a CRM model with roles and privileges so that one can customize control the access to data by task needs and job roles.

Facilities include:

· Security is integrated with Live ID or single sign-on.

· Smooth management of Role-based security settings.

· Custom-added entities work in the security model as entities shipped in the box.

· Delegation/sharing of records/objects to individuals/teams.

· Providing direct access to data via filtered SQL views which determines the users' roles and privileges.
Data Model Extensibility: The CRM Solution which grows with one's business.
It is designed such that it can be used for enhancing and expanding the model with novel technologies and features without major changes to infrastructure. It supports one's organization for longer times.

Capabilities include:

· Entities and attributes customization.

· Customizing object relationships, like N: 1; 1: N (many); and N: N (new in version 4.0) facilitating one to virtually model any/everything.

· Object hierarchies.

· Multiple relationships among objects.

Service-Oriented Architecture: A connection to success.
It provides integration of the applications across the organization with web services, which are easily customizable, and can be centralized. Microsoft Dynamics CRM web services are facilitated with a common integration framework across applications, processes and business systems.

Users can reap benefits from:

· Extensibility of UI (includes custom navigation buttons and panes which can call custom ASPX pages from within CRM so that data can persist into CRM)

· A platform which is enabled completely with web services, even on custom attributes/entities, so that it's accessible from any system which is capable of making web service calls.

· Microsoft Dynamics CRM push/pull data from other systems

· Real time transactions with the business applications through real time platform events (only on-Premise)
CRM Technology helps all sizes of businesses.

Irrespective of the count of the employees one can reap benefits from the customer driven business powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Let us see few businesses which adopted Microsoft Dynamics CRM to gain the competitive edge over their peers in the industry.
Implementation made easier
There are number of deployment options and editions available with Microsoft Dynamics CRM which provide tailor made solutions to one's business. Here are some different CRM offerings.
CRM enhanced for better results
The key element of Microsoft Dynamics CRM suite is the feedback from its customers. New enhancements are added with each of new release. From enhanced offline user experience to a web based workflow design, new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is driving innovation to make an immediate business impact in various fields.

Sales Force Automation:

Speeds up ones sale force with the easy to use and advanced features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The highly intuitive interface and the embedded Microsoft Office gives an extra edge in boosting up the sales productivity, automating the lead management, gaining insights in driving the increased sales, and streamlining the sales cycles.

Enhances the pipeline management

* Improved financial planning by easily tracking the sales pipeline.

* Increased accuracy of revenue projections by roll-up or individual forecasting.

* Tracks revenue goals by fiscal periods, dates, or other predefined criteria.

* Optimizes the sales process and identifies key trends for deals lost/won.

Simplify the workflow processes

CRM Automation

* Improved productivity with team, personal, or organizational workflows.

* Assign tasks and activities or automatically create when rules are triggered.

* Automated multi or simple level approvals.

* Automated distribution of leads and scoring.

* Key events are provided alerts for taking proactive measures.

* For defining and enforcing the consistent sales processes enterprise wide.

Customer Service:

Customer service will be transformed as a strategic asset with the customer service solutions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The 360 degree view of the customer provides ones agents in resolving the issues sooner and decreasing the handling times with the highly advanced customer service software. One can also reduce costs and ensure consistent customer service delivery across all touch points by automating the processes.

Account handling improved

CRM Customer Service Software

* The intuitive user interface boosts up the agent productivity.

* Access to customer histories improves the first-call resolution.

* Automatically identifies and deletes the duplicate records.

* Simplifies changing, managing, adding, and changing contact information.

* Modeling many-to-one, one-to-many, and complex relationships and providing good service.

* Gaining actionable insights.

Automated workflows

Customer Service Automation

· Creates workgroup, personal, departmental/federated workflows with a handy wizard that reduces dependency on IT.

· Assigns activities automatically to specific agents and redirects cases to the right agents by using rules-based escalation.

· It provides support for multiple languages and currencies by consistently handling various geographic locations.


Gives a CRM marketing solution that is easy to use, flexible and engineered that fits into ones business. Transforms each of the touch point into a marketing opportunity and harnesses the unveiled potential lying in one's customer base. The modules of Microsoft Dynamics CRM such as automation software and marketing management enables one to improve productivity, gain actionable insights into one's marketing campaigns and market much effectively.

Managing one's data effectively

Marketing Management Software

* Imports data from other resources into Microsoft Dynamics CRM effectively.

* Makes use of predefined data-mapping rules or creates the new ones on fly.

* Automatic e-mail notification confirms the data import status.

* Intellectually cleans up one's data to eliminate duplications and decreases the cost per engagement (CPE).

Internet Marketing (only Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online)

Internet Marketing

* Tracks, manages, and optimizes the search-engine marketing efforts.

* Improves the data quality by routing leads to the area of lead-staging.

* Identifies the impact of revenue on each keyword.

* Researches and purchases the keywords, and then optimizes the bids for highest placement.

* Creates data forms and landing pages without any coding.

(CRM Solutions - Microsoft Dynamics CRM)


In today's challenging business environment, the best run organizations are focusing on their consumers, the most precious assets. Organizations wish to maximize the effectiveness of every customer interaction whether it's marketing, sales, or service and wish to retain their best customers.

In contrast to other CRM software solutions, the SAP CRM application (a part of SAP Business suite) helps not only in addressing the short-term imperatives such as reducing the cost and increasing the decision-making ability but also helps one's organization in achieving the various capabilities giving the ability to compete efficiently and effectively over the long term.

SAP Business suite

The applications which are integrated and delivered with SAP business suite software enables the companies in executing and optimizing the IT and business strategies. By using SAP business suite, one's organization is enabled to perform with industry specific, essential, and business support processes with the modular solutions which are designed to work with other software (SAP or non-SAP related). Companies and departments across all industries can deploy SAP business applications in a step-wise manner to address one's own specific business challenges in their own timelines and without going for costly upgrades. SAP business applications provide better visibility and insight across one's organization, improves operational effectiveness and efficiency, and increases the flexibility in addressing the business changes.

One can tailor and incrementally adapt SAP business suite applications via enhancement packages which alleviate the need for time consuming and costly upgrades. SAP business suite modules improve the visibility across the business silos and departments and also improve the capability to take clear cut business decisions and eliminate the bottlenecks in the process of business.

Services-Enabled Business Applications

Powered by the SAP NetWeaver technology platform, based on an open, service oriented architecture (SOA), SAP business suite applications offers organizations the prospects to generate practices for better differentiation and integrating the business processes which enable one's company to contend much effectively in the industry.

SAP Enterprise Support

Support from SAP enterprise services helps in reducing the total cost of possession of SAP business suite applications with the capabilities of incorporated life cycle management. By the support offered, it decreases implementation cycles and accelerates innovation by providing tools, experts and best practices that reduce customization effort, control working cost and risk, and simplify testing.

Best industry practices by industry specific applications are provided by SAP business suite software and its core applications are:

* SAP CRM(Customer Relationship Management)

* SAP ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

* SAP PLC(Product Lifecycle Management)

* SAP SCM( Supply Chain Management)

* SAP SRM(Supplier Relationship Management)

By SAP CRM, marketers focus on customers to increase customer retention and drive demand, manage better to do more with less marketing resources, and make intellectual decisions by gaining the essential business brainstorming. Key SAP CRM marketing capabilities include:

* Brand management and marketing resource.

* List management and segmentation.

* Campaign management.

* Loyalty management.

* E-marketing

* Real-time offer management.

SAP Customer Relationship Management key marketing benefits

SAP CRM enables one to:

* Supports organizational objectives by aligning marketing resources.

* Realize the returns on one's marketing spend.

* Hasten marketing process by increased control and growth.

* Drive consumer demand by using the targeted messages of marketing.

* Notify and hold on to high value consumers using loyalty programs.

* Start up and maintain a streamlined, standard marketing process on a marketing platform which is centralized.

SAP CRM 2007 functions & features

SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) consists of functions and features which support core business processes in the below areas:

* Marketing - Plan, develop, analyze and execute the marketing activities via all patron interaction points. The centralized marketing platform powers marketers with total business view - powering one to take intellectual business decisions and to propel end to end marketing processes

* Sales - Uphold focus on activity of production to gather, nurture, and retain the beneficial relationships with functionality for sales forecasting and planning, accounts, activities, quotations, product configuration, billing, territories, contacts, opportunities, orders, pricing and contracts.

* Service - Decreases the cost of service while improving customer satisfaction by providing support for marketing for service and sales; customer service and support; field service management; installation and maintenance; service analytics; service contract management; return and depot repair; warranty and claim management; and parts logistics and finance. Channel service, call centers and e-service facilitate numerous channels for the service delivery.

* Partner channel management - Yields a much profitable and trustful indirect channel by supervising powering channel partners and partner relationships. Develops processes for partner management, channel marketing, collaborative selling, channel service, partner recruitment, communications, channel forecasting, partner order management, and analytics for channel managers and partners.

* Interaction center - Ramps up the customer loyalty, decreases costs and furthers revenues by altering one's interaction center into a schematic delivery channel for sales, the efforts in providing service and the marketing efforts across total channels of contact. Supports activities like telesales, multifunctional shared service, interaction center management, telemarketing, and customer service.

* Web channel - Improves sales and lessens the transaction costs by altering the internet into a valuable marketing, service and sales channel for customers and business. Augments profitability and enables one to approach new markets with functionalities of e-marketing, e-service, web channel analytics and e-commerce. One can deploy all these features with the existing SAP ERP application or with SAP CRM as a totally integrated consumer channel.

* Real-time offer management- This is an advanced recommendation engine which optimizes one's business by optimizing the decision making process across all consumer interaction channels, enables one to take the appropriate action to promote the customer relationships and maximizes one's customers lifetime value.

Several industry specific processes are supported by SAP CRM with the functionality designed to meet one's needs across varied industry groups. Citing an example:

* Trade promotion management- Facilitates trade and account managers in improving the visibility and control of the total trade promotion process. End to end solutions empowers managers in accurately planning, increasing the presence of brands and maximizing the revenues with business

Some of the important modules which are highly sought over by any type of business are illustrated in detail:

Brand management and Marketing resources:

SAP CRM offers a centralized marketing platform which empowers organizations in analyzing, planning, developing and executing all activities of marketing via all consumer interaction points. This assimilated application empowers marketers with total insights of business, enables one to take intellectual business decisions and propels end to end processes of marketing.

SAP CRM supports essential marketing activities, including:

Marketing resource and brand management

* Line up all resources and activities about strategic marketing goals.

* Adds control and visibility into one's marketing processes.

* Exactly manage the marketing costs and budgets.

* Boost reliability and brand consciousness with proper usage across third-party enterprises and agencies.

* Helps collaboration between team members and harmonizes marketing activities through out the enterprise.

* Supervises and optimizes the use of marketing resources comprising time, people, assets and budgets.

List and segment management

* Defines precise categories with a unified view of all pertinent enterprise consumer data.

* Gains insights into consumer categories with the features of data visualization.

* Performs segmentation by a drag-and-drop, and interactive interface easily.

* Manages enterprise consumer and prospect data without the necessity of IT support.

Campaign management

* Create personalized and relevant real-time offers via channels of inbound marketing.

* Executes activities of marketing via all outbound and inbound interaction media: the phone, fax, direct mail, e-mail, web, and the SMS.

* Fabricates consumer relationships by dialog marketing which builds on prior interactions to make the succeeding interactions much personalized and relevant.

* Controls online marketing channels to develop, plan, and implement e-mail marketing campaigns.

Loyalty management

* Creates precise loyalty programs by outlining the partner management capabilities, the point's management, and the customer tier levels.

* Drives loyalty program membership by the robust point management, the card handling capabilities, the membership-handling capabilities, and the tier management across various channels.

* Process redemptions and points accruals with loyalty-process engine which is scalable.

* Defines loyalty rewards program rules, conditions, and the offers by the tangible CRM rules builder.

Trade promotion management

* Align and plan all trade activities centrally with theapplication of SAP Trade Promotion Management.

* Shut the loop of trade claim deductions and payments.

* Automates redemption processes and trade settlements by incorporation to financials, tracks plan and actual s and closes the loop on trade activities.

* Expands insight into effectiveness of trade promotions at various levels of planning: category, segments, products, accounts.

* Optimizes trade funds allocated to maximize brand awareness and to best generate sales volumes.

* Develops sale volume forecasts and financial accruals accurately by using downstream performance data.

Lead management

* Manages with a single source of total enterprise lead information.

* Automates the total lead life-cycle process from prioritization, the follow-up processes, lead generation, and the distribution.

* Extends one's lead management process to collaborate with organizations to enhance the conversion rates.

Marketing analytics

* Analyze the effectiveness of activities of marketing.

* Modifies data and reports into actionable points.

* Assess effectiveness of various marketing channels, the tactics and the activities.

* Makes use of advanced logical algorithms to divide, segment and cluster consumer base.

* Envisages consumer behaviors, anticipates their needs, and creates many relevant and targeted messages.

Additionally, solutions and applications of SAP support a broad range of processes of business pertaining to customer relationship management, including multi channel retailing, price optimization, sales order management, category management and price management.


SAP CRM facilitates with a web channel application which enables one to alter the internet into a profitable marketing, the service and sales channel for business and consumers. SAP CRM empowers one's consumers with personalized convenient self services and web experiences. Also, the module provides a completely integrated web channel platform helping one in promoting service and sales operations by reducing the customer service calls and the transaction costs.

SAP CRM provides a total range of web channel processes, comprising of:


* Personalizes one's customers' web experiences by using the most convenient and relevant information and online interactions.

* Generates supplementary revenues by a web based channel via comprehensive support for content management, customer segmentation, store locator, catalog management, campaign execution, and personalization.

* Supports customer loyalty processes and demand generation via internet.


* Enables a total range of online selling processes, consisting of pricing and contracts, web auctions, selling via partners, quote and order management, and interactive selling and configuration.

* Streamlines fulfillment operations and sales by an end to end order to cash processes.

* Runs business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) selling processes on internet.


* Enables consumers to perform service-related tasks like obtaining order tracking information, researching and resolving product problems, checking order status, and managing accounts and payments.

* Offers one's customers an intuitive way to perform service tasks, from logging a complaint to requesting a service visit or registering a product.

* Services complex products which require complicated maintenance.

Web channel analytics

* Optimizes and measures the success of one's online and web shop content.

* Executes study across the breadth of sales, marketing, and track and use Web behavior, and service from a Web perspective, to drive future marketing activities and target customers.

* Expands insight, analyze, and acts on e-business trends.

Flexible Implementation Options for SAP's Customers

This makes one easy to control the present SAP software and IT investments in building a web presence. One can implement these functionalities with the present SAP ERP application for a solution at entry level to turn the web into a highly profitable sales and interactive channel. This application supports order to cash, the end to end processes with interactive selling, self services and the easy to use methods. It also provides an easily upgradeable way to the total SAP CRM application.

Additionally, customizable web shop templates for various business models and organizations, including B2B and B2C types, speeds up the enablement of one's web channel.

Capabilities of SAP CRM 2007:

Capabilities for 2007



Experience of

Enhanced User

* Promotes CRM ahead of traditional task automation to a user-driven, flexible end-to-end business process execution platform that offers business users the power to access what they want the way they want it

* Offers a Web-based, state-of-the art, role-oriented interface that user can both personalize and can be configurable.

* Promotes access to users anywhere and anytime.

* Advances user production and adoption.

* Learning and task implementation are made easier by role relevant interfaces.

* CRM facilitates a broader range of users to benefit by it.

* Access to data is provided by task-oriented interface and the ability in allowing users to close the loop, to take action.

Pipeline Performance Management

* Sales representatives and sales management can get targeted, role-based interactive solution.

* With an eye towards how to best hit their sales targets, it enables sales personnel to examine and manipulate their sales pipeline

* To best map deals against sales targets in various quarters, it performs "what if" scenarios.

* Affords superior pipeline accuracy and visibility, improving reducing surprises and close rates.

* Sales managers can more effectively view and manage sales pipelines across a team of sales representatives, enabling them to manage resources more effectively and deal flow.

Business Communications Management

* Offers end-to-end contact center solution, an all-IP software-based, together with routing and queuing capabilities, and eliminating the costly communications hardware need.

* Inbound and outbound contacts are managed by communications channels and multiple locations efficiently and effectively.

* Offers seamless communications capabilities to scattered outsourced, at-home in-house resources

* Better service to customers is provided across contact channels through faster response times and more consistent service.

* Internal performance is improved through personal efficiency and higher team control over operations and better visibility.

* Total cost of ownership is lowered through more targeted hardware/software investments and reduced integrated and maintenance, and installation costs.

Real-Time Offer Management

* Builds real time recommendations; up sell, cross sell, retention, marketing actions or messages.

* To offer value and make the very best recommendations, it takes into account all relevant customer information, as well as session data, and additional factors such as agent.

* Forces sophisticated arbitration analytics and optimization to assist agents to make the best decisions about what kind of offer to make, to whom and when.

* Marketing conversion rates to offers significantly increases.

* Customer loyalty is improved by providing relevant offers based on the consumer's history, context, status, and profile.

* By bringing intelligence into all customer interactions customer satisfaction is being increased.

Trade Promotion Management & Market Development Funds

* Furnishes centralized management of all trade funds and fund related activities; budgeting, utilization, and expensing and accounting.

* To make the best decisions it integrates admittance to supply chain, financials, and historical trade performance data.

* Renders centralized management of all claims, including visibility into funds, promotions, and data validation

* Optimizes the use of trade funds to guarantee increased brand awareness and trade profitability.

* Planning and forecasting accuracy of trade promotion strategies is increased.

* Based on changing business and market conditions it reacts quickly based on changing business and market conditions to adjust promotional strategies.

* Accurately manage all payments and deductions and minimizes invalid claims.

Service Parts Management

* Supply, inventory and deployment of service parts are managed to tackle pending service requests and ensure the right parts are in right place.

* Service parts at warehouse and in repair vans are provided by complete visibility.

* Service parts to be returned, distributed, reserved, or transferred are allowed.

* By ensuring the right parts are available during a service technician's first visit it improves the customer satisfaction.

* By optimized management and deployment of existing inventory swiftly locate the right part to solve a customer's problem.

Enterprise SOA

* Services and modular enabled processes are provided.

* Accommodates to facilitate differentiated, unique customer-facing processes.

* Step-by-step deployment is enabled.

* Integration with data sources and outside solutions is easy.

* Through more modular deployment model, it quickly achieves value.

* Adapted to one's business model it improves differentiation through unique processes.

* Through standards-based integration with existing systems and data it reduces total cost of ownership.

(SAP - CRM Software | Customer Relationship Management Solution)

6.3 Oracle CRM

Information Drives Successful Customer Relationships

By Oracle CRM, one's organization owns the single best tool for consumer success accurate information. Oracle CRM is built on an open, standards-based architecture improves data quality that streamlines business processes, and allows all one's key divisions to draw from the same source of data. Oracle's integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is a set of applications which gives one about information-driven sales, marketing, and service.

Over 50 CRM-Specific Applications

Oracle has more than 50 CRM-specific applications that helps one address every phase of one's CRM cycle, for exactly measuring marketing campaigns to automatically dispatching field technicians to remote locations. Look at more: Oracle Sales, Oracle Marketing, and Oracle Services.

The modules of Oracle CRM are as following:

* Oracle Marketing

* Oracle Sales

* Oracle Order Management

* Oracle Service

* Oracle Channel Revenue Management

Oracle Marketing:

Marketing Success driven by information

Through information-driven marketing, consistent, actionable enterprise and accurate information is derived from all marketing channels from their partners, one's prospects and customers, from their selling organizations, from their website.

Information-driven marketing, enabling one to plan, analyze, and execute marketing campaigns and complex trade promotions are provided by the Oracle E-Business Suite family of Marketing Applications. Oracle Marketing provides a robust, single platform for managing marketing-related processes and information. Oracle's exceptional approach aligns the marketing process across the enterprise, driving revenue through up-sell and cross-sell campaigns, facilitating successful business outcomes, maximize use of marketing investments, and improving overall sales and marketing and effectiveness.

Why Oracle Marketing?

Oracle provides a complete lead-to-commission payment process to reward partners. In addition, when Oracle marketing runs on Oracle Application Server 10g technologies and Oracle Database 10g and, it speed optimize performance, implementation, maximize one's return on investment and streamline support. And, Only Oracle provides a single, global basis of information to propel profitable collaboration across marketing, sales, service, and finance divisions. Only Oracle includes analytics and predictive data mining as part of the out-of-box marketing solution.

Complete flexibility, Seamless integration

Executes one or numerous application families or apply the completeOracle E-Business Suitefor the best way to high-quality enterprise information. Oracle E-Business Suite does the Oracle marketing, incorporating with the other E-Business Suite applications, includingOracle Sales and Oracle Interaction Center.

Benefits and Features:

* Increased customer loyalty:
Increases one's customer base by maximizing marketing channels, including traditional advertising programs and personalized web-based marketing.

* Quickly delivers campaigns and programs:
One can readily assemble, uphold, and share consistent information across all channels through simplified processes.

* Simplifies marketing processes:
By maintaining all marketing information, plans, schedules, and collateral in one place and making it available to everyone across the marketing organization it can effectively and quickly simplifies processes.

* Increased revenues and reduce Costs:
By responding to market conditions with real time and continual campaign program feedback it increases overall margins.

Oracle Sales:

Information Drives Selling Success

Staring from identifying prospects, creating proposals, executing cross sell/up sell opportunities, fulfilling orders and compensation and customer follow-up, to managing contracts and complex quotes, Oracle sales applications increases promotion effectiveness by using consistent enterprise information in every phase of the sales process. The Oracle E-business suite family of sales applications accurate enterprise information and advanced selling tools for accelerating the sales cycle, and enables information-driven selling by using consistent.

Why Oracle Sales?

As Oracle provides a single, and a comprehensive foundation of information to force selling efficacy across one's sales, service, marketing, and finance divisions. Oracle accomplishes this by ensuring all selling channels, using reliable information globally are aligned with corporate objectives. Besides, when Oracle sales is deployed across Oracle Application Server 10g and Oracle Database 10g technologies, one can speed implementation, streamline support , and optimize system performance all while maximizing the return on investment.

Complete Flexibility, Seamless Integration

The Oracle sales are one of the components of Oracle E-Business Suite, incorporating with other E-Business Suite applications includingOracle Service and Oracle Marketing.

Oracle Service:

Customer Service Success information driven

The Oracle's inimitable approach to consumer service positions organizations to drive revenue through cross-sell and up-sell, improves the overall effectiveness of customer service operations, and cut service operating costs. Throughout comprehensive integration of service delivery channels including agent-assisted service via the contact center, field service, and web-self service, oracle service provides a single, robust platform for managing service-related processes and information. Oracle E-business suite family of service applications provides true information-driven customer service that enables their technicians and agents to meet and exceed consumer prospect by empowering them with information that is accurate, actionable, and consistent.

Seamless Integration, Complete Flexibility
Execute one or several application families or employ the completeOracle E-business suitefor the fastest way to high-quality enterprise information. Oracle service is a part of the Oracle E-business suite, incorporated with the other E-business suite applications, includingOracle Marketing and Oracle Sales.

In Oracle, open and integrated applications strategy assists consumers transform their business thereby reducing cost and risk and creating value by means of:

* The most open architecture and application contributions.

* The most complete assortment of core business and engineering applications

* Business intelligence, integrated processes, infrastructure and security to hasten adoption, reduce IT costs and increase productivity.

* The most business intelligence, integrated applications and infrastructure solutions.

(Customer Relationship Management | Applications | Oracle)

6.4 Sage CRM solutions

To meet the customer relationship management (CRM) needs and flexibility Sage CRM solutions deliver the robust functionality, one demand to put up the inimitable ways one do business.

Sage offers a complete range of CRM solutions for the perfect fit.

Solutions are provided by CRM for midsized and small businesses are too often designed either as “one size fits all,” monolithic enterprise or as scaled down versions of rigid systems. These blemished approaches do not accommodate for single customer relationship management processes and needs which are a natural part of every business.

By Sage CRM solutions, one can have the freedom of choosing the customer relationship management solution (CRM) that best fits one's unique business requirements, and one can have options to move easily between Sage CRM Solutions as and when their business evolves, they have flexibility in deploying methods (on-site or on-demand through the Web),.

Sage CRM solutions are based on a thorough understanding of the unique needs of SMB's. The approach to customer relationship management solutions, at Sage is dissimilar. Many don't believe in forcing businesses into a system that doesn't fit. In that way, they convey purpose-built, supple CRM solutions that help to achieve their objectives with a low total cost of ownership and quickly.

The Sage CRM Solutions suite is comprised of:

ACT! by Sage

ACT! Helps in organizing the details of one's customer relationships in one place for a complete view of the people they do business with. ACT! Have Customer manager with 2.8 million users and #1 selling contact. To attract new customers and get more from existing relationships it has improved marketing effectiveness and, takes action on sales leads into the pipeline with total visibility. ACT! Is more powerful than spreadsheet solutions, e-mail or but it is easier to use and less costly than a CRM solution.Because ACT! is easy to learn and use, one can be more productive right away.

Sage SalesLogix

Sales, Marketing, Support, Customer Service, and Mobile automation solutions as well as rich business process automation capabilities are included by integrated Sage SalesLogix CRM. Sage SalesLogix is a quickly deployed, highly-customizable CRM solution with flexible, robust, secure, deployment options to meet one's business need; in addition it is an award winner. With flexible, secure deployment options and bundled service options are designed to help to be up and running fast, Sage SalesLogix is the total business solution for organizations seeking to automate their unique customer relationship management business processes at the lowest total cost of ownership either hosted or on-premise.


Enterprise wide access to vital customer information is provided anytime, anywhere—so one can manage their business with an incorporated approach to inside sales, domain sales, marketing and customer care. Sage CRM is easy to use and fast to deploy onsite customer relationship management (CRM) solution by out of the box but cond business process automation.


Flexibility to move around to an on-site CRM software system as one's business needs evolves is offered by SageCRM.com. The comprehensive on demand solution for the businesses seeking a low risk and low cost option is SageCRM.com. The CRM application, training, support, updates and backup are delivered by a fixed monthly price.

The best of all worlds— high user adoption and low total cost of ownership

By implementing a CRM solution that fits into one's business just right, one can be guaranteed that we won't get confused on workers and IT staff with unnecessary complexity. They'll congratulate a solution that makes one's job easier and make more productive. Experiencing users buy into a new customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a key to a successful implementation.

Sage CRM:

Sage CRM is easy to use and fast to deploy onsite customer relationship management (CRM) solution by out of the box but cond business process automation. Enterprise wide access to vital customer information is provided anytime, anywhere—so one can manage their business with an incorporated approach to inside sales, domain sales, marketing and customer care.

* Marketing

With Sage CRM one can handle and track element of their campaign. An in depth view of one's campaign is provided by this user friendly CRM solution and it enables them to eliminate the speculation and put their organizations marketing resources to be efficiently used. Observing activities, leads generated and follow up, objectives and drill down specific activities within a campaign.

* Sales

A picture of the sales cycle fro first contract to final sale is provided by Sage CRM, allowing sales teams to successfully manage and analyze the sales pipeline starting in the CRM solution. With sales performance tools it improves sales performance that helps sales professionals discover and retrieve useful information easily and quickly.

* Customer Care

By providing customer service professionals with user friendly tools to right to use relevant customer data including purchases, interactions, documents sent and received, e-mail, call and escalation histories.

* Application Integration

Organizations are provided with a holistic CRM solution that offers a complete view of all interactions among customers which is essential for making more astute decisions; these are provided by the incorporation among Sage CRM and back office accounting and financial applications.

* Mobile Solutions

There are number of benefits by real time access to CRM solution and can have a positive impact on one's business profits and their performance. By introducing customer information at fingertips of mobile professionals assures they always have the most up dated information.

* Outlook Integration

Sage CRM solution has Microsoft Outlook running within the structure and has absolute, two way synchronization with outlook calendar for appointments and tasks, contacts, and in addition a fully featured email integration.

* Productivity Tools

Sage CRM has highly developed automated process workflow, configuration capabilities, as well as computer telephony integration (CTI), Web self service, and more to optimize the rich sales automation functionality and marketing and service features.

(Sage CRM - Customer Relationship Management)

Diverse solutions offered by the popular vendors in the market are presented above but the real challenge lies when one has to adopt a one which suits one's requirements. There are many factors which play a dominant role while picking a one from the prevailing many in the market. In the next section, how to compare the CRM solutions is presented with. An analysis in numerous perspectives of business is elaborated.

7) Comparing different CRM Solutions:

Compare ERP software on the following eight criteria modules:

1. The Finance,

2. The Human Resources,

The Manufacturing Management,

4. The Inventory Management,

The Purchasing Management,

6. The Quality Management,

7. The Sales Management, and

The Technology

7.1 Compare ERP on Financial Criteria

Thefinancesegment includes components for accounting and making sure that the financial records are received or remunerated on time.

How can one compare ERP software in terms of finance? It's simple. Compare software on the following financial criteria:

Accounts Payable (A/P)
Project Accounting
Financial Reporting
Cash Management
Fixed Assets
Cost Accounting
Accounts Receivable (A/R)
General Ledger

7.2 Compare ERP on Human Resources Management (HRM)

This part is dedicated toHRM (human resources management) which includes all the modules required for handling personnel related activities of the corporate managers and the individual employees.(Compare ERP: The 8 key modules to better compare ERP Software)

Sections comprise of payroll management, benefit management, the employee self service, the personnel management, data warehousing, and the health and safety.

How can one compare ERP software in terms of human resources management? It's simple. Compare ERP software on the following HRMS criteria:

Health and Safety
Data Warehousing
Personnel Management
Employee Self-Service

7.3 Compare ERP on Manufacturing Management (Discrete and Process)

Manufacturing management(for both processes manufacturing and discrete) includes a group of tools for taking orders, for delivering the products to the consumer, and in planning the production. (Compare ERP: The 8 key modules to better compare ERP Software)

How can one compare ERP software in terms of manufacturing management? It's simple. One can contrast ERP software on the subsequent manufacturing management criterion.

As we would like to compare ERP software systems on an apple to apple basis, one needs to create a disparity betweenthe discrete manufacturing and the processmanufacturing.


1. Production Planning

2. Product Costing

3. Product Data Management (PDM)

4. Shop Floor Control

5. Field Service and Repairs

6. Project Management

7. Product/Item Configuration


1. Shop Floor Control

2. Formulas/Recipes

3. Material Management

4. Production Planning

5. Process Manufacturing Costing

6. Conformance Reporting

7. Process Batch Control and Reporting

8. Product Costing

9. Process Model (Formulas + Routings)

7.4 Compare ERP with Inventory Management

IM (Inventory management)covers a group of tools for processing the movement of goods to, all the way through and starting from warehouses, and updating the records of warehouse goods.

How can one compare ERP software in terms of inventory management? It's simple. We can compare ERP software on the below mentioned inventory management criteria:

Requirements for Processing
Adjustments of Inventory
Allocations for Reservations
Requirements for Data
Lot Control and Locations
Online Requirements for Inventory Management On-line Requirements
Requirements for Reporting and Interfacing (Inventory Management)

7.5 Comparing ERP with Purchasing Management

Purchasing managementencompasses a set of modules which control procuring of raw materials needed to fabricate products and that administers stocks of inventory.

It also engages generating purchase supplier tracking, goods receipt, contracts/orders, the regulatory fulfillment scrutiny and reporting, and the payment.

How can one compare ERP in terms of purchasing management? It's simple. Compare ERP software on the below mentioned purchasing management criteria:

Quotations and requests
Received Receipts
Purchase Orders
Supplier and Vendor Profile
Agreements and Vendor Contracts
Purchase Order Management
On-line Reporting Capability and Procurement Reporting
Repetitive Vendor Procurement
Prices and Discounts
Supplier Rating and Profile

7.6 Compare ERP with Quality Management

Quality managementencompasses applications for operational activities and techniques used to fulfill requirements for inspection plan creation, quality control, management, defective item control and processing and inspection procedure collection planning.

How can one compare ERP software in terms of quality management? It's simple. Compare ERP software on the below mentioned quality management criteria:

Corrective action, damaged material and failure analysis available to vendor on-line
Reject reason codes
On-line inquiry of inspection and MRB (material review board) queue
Quantity rejected
Customer return file, awaiting disposition
Inspection disposition with audit trail
Pre-inspection receipts registered as "inventory on hold"
Validation against automated inspection criteria
Disposition delinquency report
Defective or surplus material return processing must update on-hand
Inspection required indicator by supplier and by item

7.7 Comparing ERP with Sales Management

Sales managementencompasses a group of applications. They are it updates the data entry process of customer orders and keep track of order status.

It involves order tracing, order entry and status reporting, invoicing, pricing, etc. It also provides a basic functionality for customer information, lead tracking, pricing & rebates, quote processing, etc. (Compare ERP: The 8 key modules to better compare ERP Software)

How can one compare ERP software in terms of sales management? It's simple. Compare ERP software on the below mentioned sales management criteria:

The ATP (Available-to-Promise)
Necessities of Reporting and Interfacing
Necessities of On-line Sales Management
E-commerce needs and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Pricing and discounting
Returned goods handling and customer service

7.8 Comparing ERP with Technology

The category oftechnologydescribes the technological set up, and the technical structural design of the ERP system in which the tool can fruitfully run. Criterion consist of software usability and management, the platform and database support, the tool and application structural design, the module standards support, communications and protocol support, and the integration abilities. In the category of product technology, fit to the other assessment criteria, premium practice selections play a comparatively lesser significance.

However, this apparently lower importance is unreliable, because the product technology category typically houses the majority of the selecting organization's compulsory criteria, which frequently include the client, the server, the protocol, and the application scalability, the database support, and other architectural capacities. The description of necessary criteria within this set frequently allows the client to rapidly narrow down the extensive list of possible vendors to a short list of appropriate solutions to the most essential mandatory selection criteria.(Compare ERP: The 8 key modules to better compare ERP Software)

Throughout the process of ERP selection software, an enormous deal of thought is given to the functional capacities of the software being assessed. While this aspect is apparently important, taking no notice of the technical methods by which the ERP software in fact functions can be vital to the ERP software solution selection mission.

How can one compare ERP software in terms of technology? It's simple. Compare ERP software on the below mentioned technology criteria:

User Interface
Workflow and Document Management
Client and Server Platforms
Application Tools

Each of the types of ERP partners (discussed above) offer advantages and disadvantage that can impact the suitability of their ERP solution to business objectives. Partner the ecosystems which offer a broad range of vertical and specialized solutions. However, it can be confusing and difficult to find the right partner, some partners may not be feasible over the long term, and customers can find themselves with many providers of systems and support, which can prove difficult to manage, particularly on a global basis.

Major vendors who offer ERP Frameworks offer integrated, highly flexible and innovative solutions. Yet, customers can easily be locked into the vendor's technology, which means greater costs due to mandatory upgrades, and customers may be required to adopt technologies for which they are not ready. Framework ERP vendors' products often require extensive customization and implementation consulting in order to make the most of the flexibility these platforms offer, which can lead to long and costly implementations. In many cases, these vendors invest less in their user interfaces than their database and middleware, which means they can be difficult to learn and use. All in all, the total cost of ownership for these purpose built solutions, which includes license fees (application, database, middleware), maintenance and support can be substantially higher than for other vendor types.

Best-of-breed solutions often offer industry specific functionality or the functional point solution that can deliver a competitive advantage with relatively rapid implementation and at a lower cost. However, these solutions can be plagued with non-standard user interfaces and require administrators to learn different structures for different applications leading to higher costs.

Moreover, upgrades to promised modern, standardized user interfaces and standards based SOA foundations will become available at different times for different products. This means that not all customers can equally benefit from enhanced interfaces and integration. (Classifying and selecting e-CRM applications: an analysis-based proposal)

With few disadvantages, end-to-end embedded solutions offer most of the advantages of these other solutions. They provide industry-specific solutions with seamless integration. Implementation times are shorter and less expensive than solutions from the Framework ERP vendors. Users can take advantage of a single look-and-feel and role-based user interfaces for all of their applications, which minimizes training; administrators can reduce their learning curve because applications use a single underlying SOA-based structure. Avail the solutions which are provided from a single vendor, they can be more quickly and easily incorporated into the latest dynamic application technologies.

Also pay attention to the open-source technologies in the market. Compiere CRM offers solutions using the freeware solutions in the market. These types of solutions will be cheaper and can be easily afforded by the users (At the cost of being easily prone to attacks and hacking too).

8) Conclusion:

Altogether, in this document, types of CRM, important modules of CRM, approaches to implement the CRM, different software solutions to CRM offered by vendors in the market, ways of selecting the CRM technologies are presented and discussed in detail.

Finally from the bunch of solutions existing in the market, one has to choose a one which aptly meets the user's requirements, costs, resources and compatibility with the existing services of the company. Different solutions offered by the popular service providers are presented with. But the decision lies with the user while adopting a one. Like Microsoft CRM is recommended for its easy compatibility with the other Microsoft applications and it also provides complete suite of applications personalized. SAP is renowned for its business suite world wide and many novel features pop up very frequently. Looking from the cost perspective, one cannot easily afford this and has to look for a cheaper one for small businesses. Sage CRM solutions are classified as per the exact business needs into smaller components and can be purchased by small and medium businesses.

Also one has to be confident enough and get ready to incorporate the changes if one wishes to reap benefits in the future. The initial investment may be slightly higher and the return on investment can be met in a year or so. This also has to be taken as a factor of consideration else the running capital of the business may be reduced. Changes in the existing services may also be caused in order to meet the proposed CRM solutions and one has to communicate, train and offer other additional services to its employees in adopting the newly deployed solution.

This document can primarily act as a user guide for Small and Medium Businesses to a major extent while selecting the CRM suitable for their business needs.

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(Accessed on 16 Dec 2009)

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