At Convergence, I spoke with Julie Yack of Colorado Technology Consultants. She has started up the xRM Virtual User Group http://www.xrmvirtual.com/about.

The XRM User Group is for the professional XRM developer community. A few years back, I was on the ISV recruitment team, where we spent alot of time discussing xRM. Our group was helping ISVs build solutions on Microsoft CRM. Then another friend of mine this week asked me about xRM and got me to thinking...so I though I'd throw up a blog on it. ( Becareful how you mix that sentence around)

 

Do I need xRM ?

To understand what xRM is , we first need to paint the picture to what CRM is. In a traditional sense, organizations have managed business software across divisions. Each group managed their information separate from others. This was not very efficient or effective but works. With the speed of today's business practice, we needed to be more efficient and accurate. This is the heart of CRM.

1. Centralize Information
2. Manage Business Process
3. Visibility into our results

Business practices began to focus on doing that with sales management, customer service, and marketing. These lines of business showed the greatest area of improvement when the right technology was applied. This created the market and need for customer relationship management technology. Efficiency drove business process which influenced technology. Once again, we see the need to be more effective changing the business process. Unless you buy a information management system that is custom built for your business, which is very costly and for all practical purposes unmanageable, you are most likely going to use a commercial off the shelf software ( COTS ) solution. Price and flexibility are going to be major considerations when purchasing an off-shelf CRM solution. You need a system that can support your unique business and support future changes. If CRM has been about managing information specific to Sales, Service and Marketing, then xRM is about using the same techniques and morphing them into supporting similar but specific business process. Managing patients at a health clinic is similar to managing a customer of a store but not the same. Both organizations want to know about interaction, communications, and services/products that the customer/client/constituent/student/etc has been involved with. 

xRM is the concept of using CRM practices and technologies to manage other business process that might not have traditionally thought of as 'customer centric'. It's hard to think of business today that doesn't involve a customer or client of some type and the need to manage the interaction.

 

What is xRM ? Simplest definition - leveraged use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM beyond traditionally Sales/Service/Marketing functionality.

How do you leverage it –

·         Customizations  - Modify/Extend the Application -

        Change the user Interface, change vocabulary and data

        fields.

·        Utilize the features of the platform service to build

         unique applications that need to support centralized

        data, business process and insight into that data.

Is xRM  vertical applications only ?

No, xRM is about business functionality. Nearly all business applications are about transactional relationships between the primary business and their customer/partners. Every business will customize the relationship model to fit business needs. We could say there are degrees of xRM.  On one end of the scale is the simplest xRM conversation of using out of the box customizations to change vocabulary and add data containers. The other end of the scale has solutions that have longer development commitment to implement the needs. These solutions might use both out of the box customizations as well as other Microsoft services and development tools.  

 xRMScale

Every business will do some customizations that would be classified as standard. Corporations are likely to implement specifics for a business division especially for groups that can be very dynamic and organic. A professional solution might be one that meets the needs of a specific business practice or a niche/speciality market with industry known needs.  When I was working with ISVs, we used these terms to quantify or classify CRM solutions in models for conversation.

xRM Models - Extend, Connect, and Embed

·        Extend  - Add functionality that is realized in the CRM 

        Application

Example – Add a mapping feature to show location of

customers in map.

·        Connect – Adds functionality that enhances CRM

        feature/functionality but perhaps does not have

        direct  user interaction

        Example – Update CRM records with industry specific 

        stats on a weekly update

·        Embed – Encapsulates CRM features/functionality

        specific to a 'type of customer centric business'

  Example - Wealth Management , Legal CRM, Patient

  Information, Student Managements, Membership

  Groups, etc

If your interested more in xRM, drop me email or if you're developing xRM applications join the new user group.

-cheers
jonw