This latest blog from Paul Bowkett is available here: http://bit.ly/xRMforChch and below

Firstly, my thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected by the recent Christchurch Earthquake. The tragic events of 22 February have rocked our small nation to the core, and we hope to see Christchurch recover and rebuild after what has been a terrible few months.

The earthquake highlights the relational nature of business; every New Zealander knows some who knows someone in Christchurch. The afternoon the earthquake hit, texts and phone calls were made to clients, business partners and friends to see if they were OK.

This kind of tragic natural disaster highlights how quickly the business environment can change. Software developers have been developing flexible relationship management solutions that can be easily customised and adapted to suit a sudden change in the business environment - whether it is due to a tragic disaster or natural business shift.

What if things change? What if your business has some unique aspect, and you require more than the customer relationship management (CRM) solutions the market currently offers? What about the other important relationships you need to develop and monitor? CRM is no longer enough for many businesses, and the focus of relationship management has been shifted to a variety of other things - xRM, where the "x" represents the interchangeable relationship entity a business wants to manage.

xRM enables an agile development method with flexible tools, supporting a wide range of application types and architectural styles with a common set of infrastructure services. It is one way an IT department can provide strategic advantage to an organisation, by reducing risk, application development time and total cost of ownership, while improving productivity, business agility and maximising investments.

The New Zealand market is unique, in that it is heavily populated with small-to-medium businesses, which often have different needs when it comes to business applications and tools. xRM can be scaled and customised as required, making it effective in large organisations as well as small businesses.

Some of the uses for xRM include: event management; supplier and vendor relationships; grant management; resource management; membership management; disease management; and sports management.

After the initial Christchurch earthquake, we saw a number of organisations increase usage of xRM. AMI is one such example, using an xRM tool to manage insurance claims. Technology company, Intergen developed a highly effective tool using xRM to track people who were displaced by the earthquake.

In light of the second earthquake, Magnetism is currently working with the Red Cross to develop an xRM grants management tool that will allow them to effectively allocate resources and manage funds from the Christchurch Earthquake appeal.

Many other New Zealand organisations have also benefited from using xRM solutions, such as the Ministry of Economic Development which used xRM to develop ten unique applications, each one custom-built for the department, and the Auckland District Health Board which uses xRM to monitor and track communicable/infectious diseases.

“Anything” relationship management tools give businesses the ability to configure an application that best suits its needs to increase productivity and strengthen any and all relationships. The flexibility of this type of solution also allows businesses to easily modify applications without having to call in IT support, cutting maintenance costs.

Join the Customer Relationship Management discussion in the NZ CRM Forum on LinkedIn, or check out the Microsoft Dynamics website to find out more about CRM and xRM.

To any Microsoft customers affected by the Christchurch earthquake, please visit Microsoft Earthquake Support and let us know how we can assist you and your business.