The methods at the basis of the software project refer to the following:
1. At a marketing level, the CRM software platform enhances communication possibilities with the customers at all interaction points.
2. At a sales level, the software platform would allow our company to gather and process valuable information on productivity needs, such as size of product line or specific characteristics desired. The data would easily find applicability and functionality in sales planning, product configurations, pricing, purveyor contracts and so on.
3. At a service level, the CRM software would reduce for once the marketing costs, decrease which would then be reflected in the retail price, to eventually enhance customer satisfaction; the sales and marketing usages of the software would also enhance the quality of the services we offer, materializing once again in an increased customer satisfaction.
4. At the level of business partners, the CRM software would improve business processes through the empowerment of its collaborators. This would then materialize in improved partner management, improved communications with the collaborators, wider access to the market, a better diversified distribution and otherwise logistics and so on.
5. At the level of the customer interaction center, the CRM solution would reduce operational costs and would transform the interaction from a simple customer-organization dialogue (or monologue) into a strategic channel that delivers marketing gains.
6. At the level of the online channel, the CRM software application acts as a new source of revenues. It for instance reduces operational costs at this level, but it also uses the internet to promote the company, our products and services, but also our efforts to better communicate with the customer base (i.e. electronic marketing and electronic sales).
7. At the level of business communications management, the operational efficiency is also increased, in a context in which the costs are decreased. A particularity of this specific approach to CRM on the part of SAP is that their software application reveals the ability to route the individual contacting the company (regardless of the type of contact -- telephone, emails or others) directly to the person they need to talk, based on skills required to address the requirement of the external party. In other words, the CRM software solution from SAP "routes the contact to the right person with the right skills, whether the person is in the office or working remotely -- all without the need for costly, cumbersome hardware-based communications systems, significantly reducing total cost of ownership" (SAP Website).
7. Management Plan
The previous sections have revealed the mechanisms and benefits we could encounter through the implementation of the SAP customer relationship management software platform. Nevertheless, the actual mechanisms are not sufficient to achieve the pre-established goals, but the process must be based on extensive support from the management. In this order of ideas, the plan to implementing the novel CRM software solution is constructed on the following (all the below represent means in which the management introduces innovation -- in its business philosophy, its technological infrastructure, its organizational culture and its treatment of employees and customers):
1. The managerial team is advised to consolidate an organizational culture of change; this necessity is pegged to the fact that people could react in a negative manner to the implementation of the CRM software, as it introduces new variables to the equation. It is also of the utmost importance for the organizational culture to strengthen on the fact that the customer is the central element of any business operation and that all employees, at all organizational levels, should continually focus on ways to enhance product and service quality, or other means by which the company could increase customer satisfaction
2. The managers are expected to allocate sufficient resources to the implementation of the software platform
3. The creation of an improved technological infrastructure that best serves the needs of the new application
4. The implementation process ought to continue with the introduction of the staff members to the new techniques and technologies
5. The actual CRM software should be integrated within our company's business model
6. Training programs ought to be offered to the staff members in order to ensure that the company is able to 100% benefit from the advantages implied by the CRM software; the technical training sessions could be offered by representatives of the SAP entity. Nevertheless, it is also important to offer change training, and this could either be offered by the organizational leaders, or by a tertiary party specialized in change management training
7. Launch marketing, sales, manufacturing, communications and otherwise business operations, as supported by the new software platform
8. Place more emphasis on the role played by the Customer Service department; this means that we ought to introduce innovation and improve communication within this department, as well between this department and the rest of the organizational divisions
9. Launch improved customer communications, throughout which the company recognizes its past limitations, but argues that the situation has now changed for the better
10. The final specification of the implementation plan is that of remaining consistent and consequent. The major reason as to why CRM projects fail is given by the fact that managers tend to believe that they observed a better application and strive to integrate it. While this endeavor would be successful in the future, once the CRM plan is strongly enforced, its introduction in the incipient stages of the implementation process would significantly damage the stability of the CRM software platform.
8. Evaluation Plan
The underlying idea of the evaluation plan is that of ensuring that we have been able to implement the CRM software solution so that the final outcome coincides with the initially set goals. Some relevant means of completing this task refer to sustained communications with the customers, through which they are asked of the changes perceived in their relationship with the company, and the means in which the company has succeeded in integrating the customer feedback. Additionally, it would also be useful to assess the evolution of the sales levels and coordinate the findings to the macro and micro environmental factors. In other words, in what percentage can the modification in sales volumes be attributed to changes in the macroenvironment -- such as changing consumer behaviors, or general economic status -- and what percentage of the change is attributed to the actual CRM software solution? At this business process level, it is also crucial to identify any breaches in the implementation process and propose solutions.
The budget initially allocated for the purchase and implementation of the customer relationship management software tool is that of $230,000, distributed as follows:
- $100,000 for the actual purchase of the CRM software solution; this fee also includes the specialized assistance of the technical team at SAP, as well as a two-year warranty and updates on the CRM software system
- $50,000 for the offering of additional training sessions
- $50,000 to be used in the improvement of the technological infrastructure
- $30,000 to be used in the creation and airing of a marketing campaign that promotes the company's new commitment to customer satisfaction
A return on investment is expected to be obvious starting with the first half of the next year, in which sales are expected to increase by $50,000 a month, only from higher levels of customer satisfaction. Despite the rather clear and cut projections, fact remains that the numbers are simple estimates, and that their value could suffer modifications.
Donland, R., 2005, Anatomy of a Successful CRM Implementation, CIO Update, http://www.cioupdate.com/trends/article.php/3519216/Anatomy-of-a-Successful-CRM-Implementation.htm last accessed on December 15, 2009