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Customer Relationship Management System

Need to review a customer relationship management system for an information management strategic plan and want some practical timesaving suggestions?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a complete set of policies, standards and information technology processes aimed at improving customer relations. Customer Relationship Management System

Imagine the water pipe to your house breaks because of cold weather. 

You call the water department and explain what happened and they finally send someone out to fix it. Three weeks later, you get a call asking why you used so much water during the drought. This is somewhat annoying but could be more series and could really result in customer dissatisfaction.

CRM is intended to prevent “glitches” like this from happening.

There are many CRM software products available and these are primarily designed to help:
  • Track sales leads from first contact thru order confirmation;
  • Track sales team activity, calls, notes and other things of interest; and
  • Track responses to marketing/sales campaigns.
The intent is to provide all customer contact information in one place so that anyone responding to a customer call will have all the information readily available.

Why is a CRM review important?

The trend today is to get a consolidated look at information to help manage things like customer relationships.

CRM systems hold part of the customer information but we still need to get this information into a usable format that can be integrated with other customer related information like billing and accounts receivable

Although CRM systems are new, they still sometimes have the “silo” effect and they don’t necessarily talk easily to other systems, which need their data.

That means we need new information management systems to extract data from several source applications, including CRM, integrate it for storage and reporting purposes and present it for business intelligence use.

We need to look at existing CRM systems in a similar way we look at legacy systems to fully understand the complexity of information management. In other words, we need to get an idea of how much data integration work will be required to manage information stored in these customer relationship management systems.

What is important for an information management strategic plan?

I generally like to gather the following information:
  • The software name;
  • Vendor;
  • IT owner;
  • Business owner;
  • A brief description of what the system does;
  • System and data base documentation;
  • The perceived data quality;
  • The cost of maintaining the system; and
  • The skill levels of the production support staff
Finally, to complete the information management strategy documentation, we need to include the CRM package in the data mapping which maps the entities from the entity relationship diagram to each existing system. For each entity, ask if the system:
  • Creates the entity;
  • Reads it;
  • Updates it; or
  • Deletes it?
  • A customer relationship management system is a vital component of an information management strategy; and
  • We need to understand them so we can assess the complexity of extracting data for business intelligence purposes

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