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Ride the CRM tiger. Without pulling its teeth!

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has come a long way. The fairly simple Sales Force Automation (SFA) solutions of the past have become big and powerful enterprise software applications that span Sales, Service and Marketing Line of Business (LoB) processes.

At the same time, the reputation of CRM has not kept pace. It is considered complex, difficult to implement, and short on returns.

While I will not pretend to know everything, I believe I have a fairly good idea what might be going wrong. I have observed many implementations up close, and collaborated as part of many enthusiastic project teams to introduce new Sales force automation, Trade Promotion  Management or Call Center capabilities in several industries. I have sat on different sides of the table from consultant, customer, and – of course – vendor.

Here is what I believe is happening

CRM software packages have grown into massive toolsets that provide great flexibility to adapt them to customers’ needs. They have also given, perhaps as a consequence – more than enough rope to hang ourselves. Vendors have talked about “solutions” for a long time now, but ultimately, and SAP is no exception here, we have left it to our customers and partners to go that last mile and actually build the “solution”.

As a result, the current trend in the market is to shy away entirely from that complexity. It is no secret that there has been a trend towards very standardized, often cloud based solutions promising that they know best what is required by its customers.  At first glance, the solution they offer is perfectly viable for a certain type of CRM implementation; if your appetite is small and you are fairly sure your demand will be somewhat stable and aligned with the vendor’s future strategy, why not follow the trend?  Unfortunately, they have scaled back the integration capability – that is crucial to the processes which link finance, manufacturing and supply chain to CRM. This isn’t a solution. It is a workaround to address the fact that traditional CRM vendors were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for their customers’ solutions.  They have reduced the complexity instead of managing it effectively.

The objective should be to tame the CRM tiger – not to pull its teeth! 

And that is exactly where our SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) come into play. It is SAP’s way of putting some skin in the game. Instead of lowering our products standards, SAP takes ownership of not only the functionality offered to its customers but also reduced risk and eased the consumption of the software.

To achieve this SAP has taken its best practices, combined them with the know-how of leading consultants and created a set of accelerators and assets that allows you to implement a robust CRM solution in as little as 6-8 weeks. Is the scope pre-defined?  Yes, but only initially. You then continue to build by implementing in modular steps. Each of these solutions solves a small piece of the total CRM objective, fully integrated with other SAP software investments. Every module carries a fixed price tag and aims to drastically reduce the Service to Software ratio (cost) experience for our customers, as well as reduce the time to value (implementation time required before realizing objectives). 

We even offer CRM RDS in the cloud, or in a subscription licensing format, in addition to traditional licensing. So, at first glance it looks like we are taking a similar approach to some of our best of breed competition, by standardizing functionality and limiting the flexibility of our customers CRM experience. But remember, RDS is based on the same “over-powered” software that was hard to implement in the past and there is absolutely no flexibility lost in the long run. It is simply offering a first step to make it faster and more predictable to consume!

To this end, our Rapid Deployment Solutions are designed and tested together to work as part of a cohesive adoption path. So, for example, if you are looking to implement a world class Sales Effectiveness Solution, you might start with the CRM Rapid-Deployment Solution for Sales and Marketing together with the CRM RDS for Analytics. A natural next step might be to give your sales force access to their information on their iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, or MS Windows smartphones using the SAP Mobile Sales RDS. Why not implement our HANA- based Pipeline Analytics?

Of course, ultimately you always have the option of losing the training wheels and growing into the full-fledged world of SAP CRM.

You can expect our upcoming packages for Streamwork collaboration, Mobile Field Service or Trade Promotion Optimization to fit into that framework seamlessly integrating into a larger CRM storyline – all tested to work together.

SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions- Always an option to guide your first steps!

 

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