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Where is CRM Headed in the New Decade?

The future of business technology is here and one of the major game players is customer relationship management, or CRM. Companies that use this software know how big of a role it has on data, relationships and day-to-day processes. We’ve seen what CRM can do for our company and know there is much more potential for CRM. PYMNTS.com shares a few insights of where CRM seems to be headed in the next decade and beyond.

 

David and Goliath?

Research done by PYMNTS other data sources show the increasing important of CRM offerings that offer better customer service and more personalization features. The many talks of integrated artificial intelligence with just about any program – CRM especially – is going to become a norm (maybe in the early 2020’s) rather than continued discussion. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-supported systems are at the cutting edge of CRM, and the audience and market for AI-related solutions is growing. “Some estimates claim that AI-enabled CRM software is on course to increase global business revenue by as much as $1.1 trillion from 2017 to 2021. Using such technologies to enhance CRM capabilities allows quick-service restaurants (QSRs) to provide customers with AI-enabled screen access at select QSR drive-thrus and other retail locations, offering personalization that would be impossible to match by relying on traditional Excel spreadsheet analysis.”

More Data

As businesses grow, people spend money and years go on, data continues to grow. CRM’s capabilities in data management will grow with it. Data is very important not just for operations and finance, but for the relationships with customers and vital information to help continue those relationships. The article states, “The general idea is to provide an omnichannel experience that applies to the 2020s. Birnbaum defined that experience as a “single-thread conversation around a topic where you can converse with your customers in any channel you support.” That requires a tight focus on customer service, and via personalization as well.”

 

CRM is just getting started so we should expect more companies implementing this solution in 2020 and beyond.

 

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What SMBs Should Consider When Choosing An ERP Solution

Arun Upadhyay, CEO and Founder of LionO360 shares an article on Forbes regarding what small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) should consider when choosing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Upadhyay stresses that implementing the right technology makes a world of a difference and can impact your business.  ERPs are designed to connect the different areas and processes of a company that’s needed to run the business.  Deciding what ERP to implement is half the battle. Below are Upadhyay’s tips to consider before seeking an ERP solution.

  • Figure Out Your Requirements – Start by identifying shortfalls, challenges, inconsistencies, processes or systems that are inefficient, waste money or slow productivity. Seek input from senior management, IT teams, end users and others who are engaged in specific areas of your business.
  • Compare Offerings -After you’ve sorted out your requirements, look to see what features, functionalities and technologies different ERPs offer. Most have a dizzying array of options. To avoid being overwhelmed, take a big-picture approach.
  • Appoint An Integration Manager – Many vendors will assign you a project manager. However, you should appoint an internal person or team that understands the ERP you’ve selected as well as your company’s systems. Ideally, this person will be involved in the ERP onboarding process from day one: They will help gather requirements and will become fully acclimated to the new ERP. They will work alongside the vendor on any data conversions, coding customization and application migration. They will coordinate all necessary training and will liaise between the vendor and internal staff.
  • Decide On An Option – As with most technologies, it’s important to think long-term when you’re selecting ERP software and a vendor. By doing so, you’ll better position your company and the vendor as partners for mutual success.

 

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Avoiding the seven stages of ERP grief

As complex as enterprise resource planning (ERP) can be, it’s silly not to have to implement an ERP system for your business. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to ERP systems because each business is different. To be successful, you must do extensive research to find the ERP that’s right for your budget, your business model, and your team. An article on ITProPortal by Claire Mason explains the many steps of ERP grief when implementing this change into your company. Mason shares how to overcome these setbacks so you can continue to be successful with your implementation.

The seven stages of ERP grief

  1. Shock – You find out your ERP system isn’t supporting the latest innovative technology. You make think you’re behind, but believe it or not, you’ve got competitors in the same boat. technology is always changing so don’t worry if you haven’t yet caught up. That’s what upgrades are for and your ERP vendors will assist with upgrades.
  2. Denial – ERP projects are often daunting. You might find that your staff is taking shortcuts, processes are inefficient, inconsistencies creep in and ultimately you lose productivity, and your view of the entire picture. All of this costs money, and if you don’t want to waste any more than you need, address the situations and make some change.
  3. Desolation – ERP can get very complicated very fast. The best way to solve this is to think deeply about what outcomes you want to see from an ERP system in your organisation.
  4. Bargaining – Nothing comes cheap, but don’t be deceived by high prices meaning high quality. You need patience and planning for this stage. This is a 10-15 year purchase – it will take time to get the right buy-in.
  5. Reflection – ERP implementations have a high first-time failure rate. IF you chose wrong, you run the risk of disappointed staff and wasted money. However, if you get it right, you will be behind the best version of your business. You’ll create a flexible, scalable and agile platform, with an efficient and innovative culture.
  6. Working through – What exactly do you want from your ERP solution? Employees are your biggest source of information – ask them what would make their lives easier and what their issues are. They can tell you what clients’ issues are relating to the how the processes are run in your business.
  7. Acceptance – You’ve made a match with an ERP provider, now the real work begins. You must now appoint a system administrator, clean your data before migrating to your new system, train your staff. and work on a strategy that will utilize your ERP to it’s maximum potential.

By knowing the stages of “grief” in ERP implementation, you can better prepare your team on how to handle these obstacles so you can experience the return on investment from your ERP solution.

 

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12 Reasons Why Your CRM Fails…and How to Fix Them

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are worth the investment and what makes it a must-have resource. However, the price tag and the time/dedication aren’t so attractive. More so, the “horror” stories we hear from failed implementations may make a manager sway back and forth before making such a huge decision. But the bright side to that is there are success stories and companies who are striving because of their CRM systems. Jennifer Karpus-Romain from Business2Community shares how we can learn from these successful implementations by fixing the common fails associated with CRM. Below are Karpus-Romain’s 12 most common reasons that a CRM fails, and how to fix them.

  1. Lack of user adoption – Maybe the CRM isn’t integrating well with existing workflows and processes, or your employees are just confused. This situation can often be avoided by bringing end users into the design and user-experience testing processes, and by enhancing CRM training.
  1. Lack of vision – If you don’t have a clear vision of what you need to utilize your CRM for to accomplish goals, you can lose focus and implementation may turn disastrous. The more specific your plans are for what your CRM will do for your company, the better.
  1. Thinking it’s just a technology solution – The technology alone can’t improve those relationships. CRM requires proper collaboration with the user and software to generate powerful results.
  1. Poor planning – Every moment invested in planning serves to prevent later confusion and frustration, ultimately helping to prevent a CRM failure.
  1. Lack of support – In order for your CRM system to have its best success, everyone involved with the process needs to be on board. The better their understanding of the value the CRM brings to the company, the more invested they will become in its long-term success.
  1. Choosing the wrong software or vendor – Choosing the right partner is important to your success, but so is selecting the right software. A true CRM partner will always build a customized solution that fits your needs.
  1. Too many bells and whistles – A great CRM provides a lean user experience, only making use of those elements which are absolutely necessary. The more intuitive and streamlined the user experience, the better the user adoption rate.
  1. No measurable objectives –  Your CRM project needs clear, measurable objectives that can be easily tracked, analyzed, and evaluated. This allows you to make timely changes to the CRM itself, workflows, and even training long before the CRM is at risk of failure.
  1. Not thinking of customer perspective – If your CRM is failing, it’s worth taking a step back to see how your customers (usually through your employees) interact with your CRM. You may find some surprising disconnects, roadblocks, and other frustrations that are only obvious when you work backwards from the customer’s experience.
  1. Failing to involve end users – Design your CRM around the needs of the people who will use it most – end users.  By bringing these end users into the planning and user-testing stages, these headaches and costs can often be avoided completely.
  1. CRM is considered a one-time thing – A great CRM isn’t the result of a single, perfectly executed implementation. Ongoing refinements, revisions, and expansions lead to success.
  1. Attempting the process alone – A CRM system can catapult your company’s efficiency if you implement it properly. The best way to do that is to partner with a customer relationship management software expert to ensure you are engaging your employees and getting the most from your investment.

Whether you’re in the process of implementing a CRM system or reevaluating the current strategy you have now, keep these tips in mind and you’ll be on your way to a successful path.

 

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How to make the right decisions about your ERP systems

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are a huge asset in today’s businesses. However, there is still some hesitation when considering integrating such systems. Not only is it a question of cost, time, and labor, but the organizational structure around a new system that managers must consider.  Not only is the decision about your ERP solution one that you will not revisit for a long time, but it’s also one that will influence how your business operates for the foreseeable future. The ERP decisions you make today will directly impact the efficiency of your business. Steve Ronan at BizJournal shares some things to consider if your company is evaluating a major change to your ERP systems.

  • Value planning – Defining how the systems will add value to the business – both quantitatively and strategically
  • Selection – Defining business processes, key requirements, adding value, short-listing vendors, and setting aside implementation time
  • Budgeting – Considering licensing, infrastructure, bandwidth, investment, and staffing costs
  • Program management/implementation – executing the implementation with discipline and predictability
  • Governance and sustainability – How will you ensure that future decisions about system changes control risk and don’t create unnecessary complexity and chaos?

Keep in mind when exploring ERP systems, look for experienced consultants in both vendor-aligned firms and independent implementation practices.

 

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Seven Steps For Successful CRM Implementation

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) makes it easier for a company to keep track of their sales and marketing, yet people still feel hesitant when considering implementing such systems to their organizations. We hear stories of failed implementations, money wasted and chaos and frustration when learning the new systems. But not all CRM implementations go bad. When they do prove to be successful, companies immediately see a positive change in organizational productivity. But the major pain point with CRM isn’t with technology – it is entirely cultural. “The inconvenient truth is that some salespeople simply don’t want to utilize any system that monitors their activity or that they perceive as wasting their time,” says Marc Emmer at Forbes. “To use such a system requires a disciplined approach that is lacking in many organizations.”

Here are seven keys to utilizing CRM successfully.

  1. Pick the right system.
  2. Map your sales and marketing process.
  3. Consider creating an end-to-end solution.
  4. Pick the right partners.
  5. Get feedback early and often.
  6. Develop a project plan.
  7. Ensure you deploy a scalable solution that works.

Don’t be afraid to take the risk and implement a CRM system for your organization. Utilizing the right CRM can be a real game-changer for your company. As mentioned before, when implemented right, you’ll see an immediate return to your investment.

 

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6 Reasons Your Business Needs CRM Software

Businesses thrive and make profits through their customers. So why is it that not all businesses have considered investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software? CRM software is a valuable invesment because it improves work productivity and customer relationships. How you form and maintain relationships between you and your customers makes a huge difference in retaining them. It also applies to how you act on new leads and prevent people from bouncing away to one of your competitors. Lexie Lu at SocPub shares several reasons why you should invest in CRM software, as it will help your business relationships in the long run:

  1. Elevate Your Internal Communication – CRM software helps sales and marketing communicate better, as well as allows leadership tp better understand their client relationships.
  2. Reduce IT Costs – With all the money you save implementing a CRM software, you can utilize it elsewhere in the company, such as training your sales team or creating team-building opportunities.
  3. Increase Productivity – Implementing company-wide CRMs helps increase productivity and reducing wasted time trying to track down information needed to complete a task.
  4. Understand Your Customers Better – A customer who feels important and heard is much more likely to do business with you than one who feels they are starting from scratch every time.
  5. Automate Daily Tasks – A good CRM system automates some of them and frees up time for more creative endeavors.
  6. Remove Miscalculations – CRM software creates reports and runs statistics for you, removing the potential for human error.

More and more companies are jumping on the CRM bandwagon and so should you. If you’re planning on growing your company, a good CRM software may just be the push you need to increase your profits.

 

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How To Smooth The CRM Installation Process

In his latest Forbes post, Barrett Cordero, president of leading global speakers bureau BigSpeak, shares an interesting article for entrepreneurs on the process of installing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems as stress-free as possible. Cordero and his team have successfully implemented their CRM software and is already seeing immediate return on their investment. Of course, as with any implementation, they had their share of obstacles, though Cordero’s team managed to have an overall easy transaction. Below are some tips/guidelines on how his team did this smooth implementation.

  • Set expectations super low. That way, when things go wrong, you’ll be expecting it — and it won’t put more stress on your team.
  • Make sure the system meets minimum work integration requirements. Define the minimum work integration requirements you need the system to meet before you launch. Don’t be afraid to delay the launch by a few days or weeks if needed — it’s more important to hit your minimum requirements first.
  • Let employee experts lead the way. Ask for employee volunteers from various departments to train with the vendor. That way, they’ll be on the lookout for what solutions are needed to solve specific issues in their respective departments.
  • Overcommunicate until you annoy people. As a leader, you will need to go over the information several times and then check to see if people understood.
  • Keep pushing until it’s right. If you think all the heavy lifting is done in preparation, think again. When you install a system, look forward to spending lots of quality time with your vendor to get it right.

Implementing a new CRM will greatly benefit your business. Though you must be prepared for all the hurdles that come with it. With the few tips that Cordero shared above, you will be on your way to a smoother installation process.

 

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How to maximize your ERP investment

Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can be beneficial to your business operations. However, if you don’t fully understand its benefits, you will never reap the rewards of your new system, or worse, create problems. With many ERP options available be sure to invest in the ERP system that best aligns with your business needs. IT Web outlines a few ways to maximize your ERP investment.

  • Map your system to your processes and strategic objectives – Consider aligning yourself with an ERP service that understands the scope of your business and its processes, ideally mapping your desired (not necessarily current) business processes with its assistance, placing the organisation in a solid position to help you develop a tailored but still supportable ERP solution that is mapped to your specific business requirements.
  • Beyond basic functionality – Getting true value from your ERP is about much more than simply enabling more efficient processes and generating transactional data. At the end of the day, the data that the system produces is the competitive advantage your business needs to grow.
  • Plan for growth – It’s important that your ERP system is able to grow alongside your company, and an effective ERP partner should be able to help you optimise and innovate across your business.
  • Keep employees up to date – Because the system will be evolving constantly to meet changing business needs, employees’ knowledge of how to operate the system will also need to be updated continuously.

The ERP system you choose can offer a massive return on investment, but only if you have a clear roadmap as to how you should implement and leverage your system appropriately.

 

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The Top Challenges for ERP Implementation in SMBs

Most SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) have the general perception that Entreprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are suited for larger enterprises. This perception is due to the high cost of ownership, the complexity of implementation and the continuous maintenance costs. ERPs as of late, however, have made it possible for businesses ofsmaller sizes to benefit from these systems. While ERPs can be beneficial for SMBs, they still come with few obstacles, especially during implementation. Elizabeth Quirk of Solutions Review shares some of the top challenges small businesses face during ERP implementation.

 

  • Customization – Every company is different in its own way, so your ERP system may require some minor adjustments. This can often be a slippery slope, and as you begin to run into more complications, you’ll be tempted to address them with some customization. By over-customizing, you may face costly upgrades, so beware!
  • The Users – To prepare employees for the ERP system, you should also address some of the potential problems that may arise when using it, such as lack of understanding, poor adoption, and even selecting the wrong ERP system
  • Investment in Internal Hardware –  Working with a slow, heavy system can leave you incredibly unproductive. A properly managed ERP with the adequate hardware system has the ability to increase customer satisfaction and improve employee productivity. You should also consider looking into a cloud-hosted ERP system.

 

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