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September 24, 2010

Customer Data Integration Using RSS Feeds

Filed under: Data Integration, Database Integration — Tags: , , — Katherine Vasilega @ 7:45 am

One of the ways to improve your business management is to keep your CRM users better informed. You can send out emails to your employees when a specific event happens in CRM (new contact or new lead is added), but you can go further than that and provide the same up-to-date information without emails. Database integration with RSS feeds opens up great opportunities for customer service and workflow.

Database integration with RSS allows aggregating RSS feeds, filtering them by relevant keywords and providing the relevant content to a specific user. Database integration allows creating one generic feed or multiple feeds to give CRM users the option to customize the desired information. Let’s say you have five new customers a day – you can immediately inform sales managers of new opportunities and leads, alarm executives when opportunities close and new ones come in, send contacts’ details to your marketing department, etc.

You can use CRM – RSS feeds integration in another way. Database integration with news search RSS via Yahoo! News, Google news, CNET and other portals will help you gather information about your potential customers. You can immediately send out this information to sales people and give them something to talk about with possible clients.

Database integration with RSS feeds allows collecting relevant information and using it to update your CRM system, arm your employees with relevant information and improve customer service.

September 30, 2009

Technology Trends to Impact CRM

Filed under: Data Integration — Tags: — Olga Belokurskaya @ 7:31 am

Gartner has lately highlighted a number of technology trends CRM professionals should pay attention to as they plan their CRM architecture.  Social CRM initiatives are among those trends. Gartner predicts spending on such social CRM initiatives as customer communities and social media monitoring to grow up to 10% of spending in 2020.

What will this mean for traditional vendors? They will have to implement social capabilities into operational CRM. By social capabilities meant three areas: internal collaboration tools, internal communities hosted by the business, and outside social networks monitoring.  However, there is a resistance to social CRM initiatives coming from legal departments whose main concern is the level of corporate governance.

Among another trends that will impact CRM Gartner also named:

Turning to cloud computing to decrease operational costs;

Corporate performance management (CPM) including includes data-driven planning, budgeting and forecasting activities often includes sales and marketing analytics;

Web-oriented architectures which are not yet applicable in a majority of cases in complex enterprise applications, but will be soon, according to experts.

August 4, 2009

Getting Benefits from Custom Relationship Management

Filed under: Data Integration, Data Migration, Data Warehousing — Tags: , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 5:33 am

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems prove to be beneficial. They are widely been implemented and are regarded a powerful solution that improve provider-customer relations and help companies become more customer-centric.

Here are some factors to consider for getting benefits from CRM integration:

  • System integration provider choice. – If you are not sure you staff is skilled enough for CRM implementation or integration work, you better choose professionals to do this for you. They may help analyze what functionality is more advantageous for company’s certain business needs. Thus it will help avoid acquiring bulky solutions, many parts of which will never be in use.
  • End user adoption. – This factor is critical in the success of a CRM implementation, however ignore it. According to Forrester research, companies that achieved only 30% user adoption after three years saw only 5% ROI on their CRM projects. A lot of organizations don’t think about the right user training. Companies looking gain maximum benefits from their CRM investments should focus on additional user training.
  • Real time applications. – Access to real-time information is highly important. Make sure you select applications that perform live data exchange instead of batch processing.
  • System usage monitoring. – Consider monitoring usage of the system, either by soliciting user feedback, leveraging system monitoring tools included in many CRM applications, or investing in monitoring software.

June 16, 2009

What Makes Customer Relationship Management Projects Fail

Filed under: Database Integration — Tags: , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 5:54 am

CRM has become extremely popular in the recent years. Nowadays, many companies have accepted the importance of CRM and have made the decision to implement CRM initiatives enterprise-wide. However, a great deal of CRM strategies fails. In fact, those failures may be caused by different factors. But here are the most typical reasons of CRM projects failures:

 

  • Believing that CRM starts and ends with software. However, a CRM project means the right people executing the right processes, using the best possible tools at their disposal.

  • Under committing a CRM initiative – which means failing to invest enough time and attention to to develop a comprehensive sales process reengineering vision, settling instead for a series of minor, tactical changes.

  • Considering CRM to be a part-time project. A part-time approach will not generate part-time results; it will generate no results at all. For CRM projects require full-time assignment of people for the duration of the project, active executive involvement, full-time commitment of personnel, accountability for results, and a process-driven budget.

  • Having big expectations and small budgets. Trying to implement a CRM initiative as cheaper as possible is a mistake a company will regret very soon. A low-cost approach is extremely prone to failure. Starting a CRM initiative one should never focus primarily on price, but only on benefits.

  • Picking wrong technology partners is a mistake that occurs when a company bases vendor choice only on product features. However a company must thing about their specific sales process functionality needs.

  • Assuming that automating your sales process will be similar to automating manufacturing or finance. The degree of complexity in implementing a CRM system is significantly higher than the other two examples. Budgets should be provided for necessary upgrades and for ongoing system support.

April 20, 2009

Working with CRM Consultants: Best Practices

Filed under: Data Synchronization — Tags: , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 12:30 am

CRM implementation is a challenging step for every company, and qualified consultant is a valuable asset for such a project. However, it’s no less challenging to form successful relationships with the CRM consultants and system integration partners.

Here are five best practices to help overcome the challenge:

  • Establishing requirements – One of the most important phase of preparation to implement a CRM is to set requirements for the CRM project and determine which areas of the project will require the most help from consultants. Having clear requirements from the start lets both the company and the consultant to be on the same page going in.
  • Defining the relationship with the CRM consultant – By establishing relations and setting boundaries, the consultant’s made fully aware of his/her role and the overall scope of the project. Otherwise, s/he is less likely to be helpful.
  • Selecting project team members – One of the most important things for a company is to get its best employees working with the CRM consultant.  Involving the best people from both the IT and business side of the company ensures that there will be total buy-in for the project and a large cross section of skills that can be utilized.
  • Having a well-defined project plan – Make sure that everyone involved has a unique set of responsibilities throughout the project. The plan must be as specific as possible, including the names of consultants, each consultant’s responsibilities within the CRM project, and dates for each project phase.  Moreover, each stage of the project is better to be documented to reduce confusion once the consultants have moved on.
  • Controlling the CRM project from start to finish – Taking control of the CRM project from the very beginning is something mane organizations fail to do. However, this is just the thing that helps ensure a successful outcome.

March 24, 2009

Open Source CRM Pros and Cons

Filed under: Open Source — Tags: , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 7:13 am

Choosing CRM software is an important step for many companies. The variety of options as well as variable pricing makes the decision-making difficult, especially in today’s economy. The uncertain economic situation made many companies delay or even abandon their implementation of a CRM software platform which could provide a benefit tomorrow for the sake of survival today. As companies tighten their budgets, the need for an inexpensive CRM software solution becomes even more important.

Open source CRM can be the answer to many companies’ needs in today’s trying economy. A question arises then, whether open source CRM software a viable and effective alternative to proprietary solutions?

A lot of the fundamentals about implementing CRM technology hold true regardless of whether you are implementing open source CRM or conventional commercial CRM software. However there are some areas asking for more attention when installing open source CRM. Let’s have a look at some open source CRM pros and cons.

It goes without saying that implementing open source CRM requires minimal investments because of many free options available. In other words, for little or no money you get functionality and features that allow companies to improve upon inefficient operations.

However, the range of functions open source CRM may provide is not as extensive as the one available through commercial packages, and some of the features may simply be not included. Moreover limited support is available to open source CRM software which can be a problem for some companies.

That means that a company should be careful defining its needs and choose open source CRM software that meets those needs. But, if a company can adjust to these limitations, the return for its business can be significant.

March 18, 2009

Quick Tips on CRM Data Migration Planning

Filed under: Data Cleansing, Data Migration, Data Quality — Tags: , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 8:26 am

In my previous post i reviewd some points that could help to increase the quality of your CRM database. Now I’d like to touch upon quick tips on what to do if you plan your CRM data migration.

Data migration from one CRM system to another can be quite irksome. Although adding new records to the new configured and ready to use CMR is pretty plain, it’s quite troublesome to shift your previous data into new CRM. Often before the data in your existing format is ready to upload into the new system, it requires a big amount of formatting, enrichment and cleansing. It’s “an inevitable evil” that comes with the migration process.

What you should keep in mind while migrating your CRM data:

Make sure you have an exact back up of all your previous data and the new CRM so that you could roll back to where you were if anything goes wrong.
Check which additional data fields are compulsory in the new CRM and identify them with the fields you have in your current CRM.

Add any additional data items that are missing, remove those that are not required and make sure you have complete records which are ready to be migrated to the new CRM.

As soon as the data moved to the new system, categorize and label it. Do it systematically to avoid the mess and have the retrieval easier.

The whole process, of course, requires a lot of effort and quite dull work, but if it done well, it will be worth every spent minute.

March 17, 2009

Keeping Your CRM Data Quality at Its Best

Filed under: Data Cleansing, Data Quality — Tags: , , , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 4:59 am

What is one of any organizations most valuable assets? CRM data is probably one of them. Companies are likely to protect and secure their CRM data, but what about its quality? Data quality management is very often one of the most neglected areas of CRM management and one of the major pain areas for administrators and managers.

So trying to learn more about the problem, I came across some practices that could help maintain and enhance the value of the data.

  • Do not ignore bad data until it starts affecting your work. Keep an eye on your data and monitor any changes in its quality.
  • It’s a good practice to manage, normalize, format, qualify and filter out your leads outside your CRM and then have it uploaded so that what is not valuable or quality data does not get added.
  • Periodical data append is important although it involves a lot of manual effort and may seem time consuming.
  • Duplication is possibly one of the most common problems and creates redundancy as well as inaccurate reports. So it has to be kept in check
  • The same thing may be said about expired data that simply junks your CRM. The more regularly you check for expired data, the healthier your CRM is.
  • And, finally, if data cleansing is what helps you maintain your database quality then data enrichment is what will help you enhance your data quality and make it more valuable to the end users.

And here we go with the conclusion: good data management practices, constant cleansing and enrichment process – that’s when your CRM data really becomes an asset.