From ERP to CRM

Menahem Nissenbaum, Manager of the ERP, Industry, and Commerce Division at Matrix

The dynamic and rapid development of the technology and information market, and the abundance of software products offered by vendors have resulted in a growing user demand for functional expansions of ERP systems, as well as for the expansion of the use of these systems by additional units of the organization. To meet market demands, systems in the post-ERP era must adapt to these requirements and include at least the following three features:

1. Bridge the gap between the organizations’ requirements and system functionality. A portion of ERP systems offer a wide selection of ancillary systems that are not included in standard installation. The reasons for omitting these from the standard installation are focus on the main processes within the organization, a desire to simplify the basic deployment, cost reduction, and more. A prominent example is the Tafnit system. In addition to the basic modules common in ERP systems, Tafnit includes as an integral part of the system dedicated complementary modules for medical institutions. Examples of such modules are management of food services, operating rooms, laundry operations, computerized storage, sterilization, and more.

2. Provide connectivity with other systems in the organization. There is no doubt that ERP systems that have been adapted to the post-ERP era are infinitely more flexible in performing the changes required by connectivity, enabling a high degree of data sharing and communication between systems.

3. Allow maximum use of the data stored in the system. One of the critical requirements of users, especially at various management levels, is making the large amounts of data accumulated in the system useful in the decision making process. One of the means of achieving this goal is the creation of various levels of search mechanisms by means of external search tools from different vendors. This requirement increases the cost of the ERP system, in addition to the basic high cost of the system itself and of the resources needed to deploy it.

An ERP system with a high technology level built into the basic system enables the development of sophisticated search mechanisms as an integral part of the system, eliminating the need for a large investment in external systems and mechanisms. This alternative also produces higher reliability of the data and easier, faster, and more convenient searches.

Menahem Nissenbaum, Manager of the ERP, Industry, and Commerce Division at Matrix, recommends six questions to ask vendors of ERP systems:

When attempting to evaluate the implementation of an ERP system, vendors should be asked the following questions:

  1. What is the functional richness of the system?
  2. How long has the system been on the market and what company is behind it in the areas of sales, implementation, and service?
  3. Has the ERP system been already installed in at least one organization that is similar to ours?
  4. What is the duration of the implementation project of the ERP system being evaluated in our industry sector?
  5. Does the system include ancillary systems that provide special solutions for the management of resources and processes in organizations such as ours?
  6. Is it possible to add modules that are an integral part of system, such as a BI system, a system for the management of the distribution chain, a system for the management of customer relations, a service system, and the like?

Udi Ashkenazi, Manager of the Telecom and CRM Division at Matrix

In classical ERP projects the customers sought to automate known and structured processes with a view toward savings and efficiency in routine operations. The focus was on operational departments within the organization, especially products, inventories, finances, management of the supply chain, etc.

CRM changes substantially the characteristics of classical IT. The point of view in CRM is external to the organization, not internal, and even after installation the system continues to change and develop. In the course of a CRM deployment project the organization changes the universe of concepts regarding its customers.

A CRM project must enact the organization’s marketing dynamics. In a competitive market, the CRM system usually implements the ideas of the marketing people in initiating events or reacting to them. The CRM system is intended to assist the IT group reduce the time and cost needed to implement new marketing initiatives.

At the beginning of a CRM deployment project some basic questions arise regarding customer specifications. Is this a potential customer, a user, or a paying customer? What are the relations between the customers and what are their positions (a member of a family, a manager in a corporation, etc.)?

A central use of the CRM system is providing a comprehensive customer picture for the representative. This picture includes the services the customer already uses, interactions with the customer, customer information and connections, important indications of potential sales to the customer or of possible customer defection. The CRM system handles a range of customer-related processes, such as calls, problems, orders, inquiries, offers, etc. These processes have been implemented in many organizations. Currently a trend is under way toward analytical CRM, which means turning all the data in the systems into opportunities with the customer.​