Monday, November 12, 2012

Mobility, CRM and Productivity

I came across this article recently and while certainly not new, it is just a relevant today as it was in May when it was published.


Read the full article by clicking the link below:


So what is new about this topic?  

There certainly is no shortage of information on mobility, the cloud and what business owners wish their employees would be doing.  If only there was a way to speed the delivery of information into and out of our business?  That express tunnel of information exists now, but finding the right one is the challenge. 


What makes a mobile application, let alone Contact Relationship Management (CRM) software, worthy of investment?


As the article points out the key is finding the right tool for the right job.  When I made the mistake a few years ago of commenting on the number of shoes my wife was collecting, she retorted, they why do you have so many screw drivers.  Not catching her point, I tried explaining that I needed the right tool for the right job.  Time has passed since that day and I do not mention the shoes anymore and she leaves me alone about my collection of tools. 


The reality is no different in mobile applications as it is for in house Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application systems.  An organization needs the right set of applications (or tools) to get the job done.  They do not need overkill and hundred step processing to place an order, if they simply have to pick, pack and ship a box off the shelf. 


Whatever solution works is a good start. 


My biggest point that I stress with the people I consult with is “Integration”.  There may be a lot of good systems out there that track all sorts of metrics, but if that system does not fully integrate with the rest of the systems you are already using, then you are opening the door for errors, cost increases, and problems.  Not that a lot of organizations cannot make separate systems work, it just tends to take a lot of time, effort and resources that could be better utilized in cases where an integrated solution did exist.


To be fair, some ERP systems have integrated CRM applications, but they are an afterthought and are not very functional.  In this case you need to be sure the developer has a solid foundation and commitment to bringing that application up to today’s standards.  If they do not, then look for one that you can integrate.


The article makes more points, like picking an application that is device agnostic.  This is a nice feature as it generally means you do not have to invest a whole lot to get the technology in the hands of those who need to use it.  I would not be too concerned with this as functionality and integration are more important.  A solid and secure platform is going to be less work for the auditors and will help you sleep better at night. 


We would all like to save money, but at what future expense?  Do not be penny wise and dollar foolish.


Easy to use is noteworthy and is in direct proportion to training effort and expense.  As I mentioned earlier, the application needs to fit the culture of your enterprise.  Simple and effective, the right tool for the right job.  Features and benefits are nice, but form and function are better. 


Have a goal and set your direction and budget.  Define your needs and allow for future growth.  Do not limit your future.  A fully integrated system will allow the expansion of a mobile application base which includes CRM to encompass more functions in house. 


Physical inventory for example.  I recently was in a major retailer (big box store) and saw an employee using an Iphone to check and count inventory.  I asked if this was his device or the store’s.  I was not sure initially if he was just using a shopper application to check prices.  He replied that this was the store’s device and that everyone was using them to check inventory.  When it worked, he said it was great, small and compact, easy to use, it was just they had not quite perfected its use. 


The adoption rate is almost a non issue today as most people expect mobility and automation. 


Even the lay person understands the economics of mass production and efficiency of scale.  What is difficult is for the smaller business to invest in development.  The large companies do so out of necessity and have the resources to drive adoption.  For example, look at how Walmart determines how suppliers sell to them.  A buyer tells the seller what they have to do to earn the business.  Who is selling who? 


Smaller organizations need ready to use applications that integrate with their line of business systems.  They need the ability to customize the solution, add user defined fields, for example in many cases.  But, the systems need to be able to be implemented without reinventing the wheel.  


If the incumbent ERP system does not have a fully integrated CRM system or integration to a third party solution, nor plans to build one, then it may be time to invest in a solution that does incorporate CRM. 
The very most important aspect of any new application module or software is its ability to improve customer service.  If you do not make your customers happy, your competition will.

If your organization is planning to implement or is struggling with CRM or other mobile technology solutions, then contact Dolvin Consulting.  We are here to help you navigate the technological seas of change with our industry contacts.  It will not hurt to ask for help, it only hurts if you continue adrift.  Contact us today for help.



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