CRM and improving order fulfillment...

As I’ve touched on in previous posts, the art of getting value out of CRM is to embed key business processes within the technology. While a lot of attention gets paid to sales and marketing processes, ‘downstream’ areas, such as order fulfilment, are often overlooked but often offer rich potential to add value to the organisation.

Let’s take a hypothetical example. A company sells widget making machines. When an order is received for a widget making machine, there are a wide range of activities, involving a lot of different departments, before the system is installed and paid for. So, in this example, there might be a need to complete contracts, arrange finance, send a welcome pack, survey the site, ship the machine, install it, train staff on it, activate the support contract, handover from sales to account management, invoice, etc. etc.

This is all very difficult to do, or do well at least, without any central coordinating technology. By embedding these processes in an enabling technology like CRM, a range of benefits may accrue. For example:

The fulfilment processes becomes faster with less manual handovers.

There’s less work involved in fulfilling an order, and that work can often be performed by less skilled people.

There’s less of an overhead in monitoring the process, the system can identify the exceptions.

There’s less scope for error, so the quality of delivery goes up.

With fewer errors there’s less management time spent fire-fighting problems.

Cash flow improves because orders are shipped faster, and, since quality is higher, there are fewer reasons for customers to delay payment.

Better visibility of problems and bottlenecks in the process allow the process to be further tuned to increase performance and quality.

The system supports more sophisticated processes that allow customer satisfaction generating activities to be integrated in a way that was impossible with manual systems.

Customer satisfaction increases, which, in turn, ripples through our Web 2.0 enabled world to increase order volumes

OK, so you’re almost certainly not selling widget making machines, and this is a very hypothetical example, but we’ve seen a lot of benefit in managing a wide variety of fulfilment processes in CRM. Funnily enough, it’s often not the most obvious processes that ultimately generate the greatest value.

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