What makes NetSuite’s CRM Unique for Producing Successful Implementations?

This article is relevant to anyone thinking about adopting a new customer relationship management system.

Over the last 25 years helping companies select and implement business systems, which include ERP, CRM and eCommerce applications, I am confident that the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the most difficult to implement well and obtain success.  My goal here is outline why I believe CRM system implementations are a challenge and how NetSuite CRM offers a unique opportunity to deliver on the promise.

To do this, the article will be broken out in four parts to help make each point.

The Four CRM System Implementation Challenges

Here are four key reasons that CRM system implementations often do not live up to the promised value:

  1. Duplicate Information
  2. Inconsistent Information Management Practices
  3. Multiple Information Origins
  4. Salesperson’s Perceived CRM Benefit

Each of these considerations should be addressed to produce a good implementation.  I recommend that as you contemplate your CRM strategy, make assessments about the different ways the software tools address these challenges.  Finally, it’s important to recognize that tools help to solve these problems only if you have a commitment to produce organizational practices that anticipate and overcome these obstacles.

Where NetSuite’s CRM has a Unique Advantage

Before I speak about each of the challenges above, the key reason NetSuite’s CRM has an advantage over other major CRM platforms is that it is fully integrated to its ERP and eCommerce offerings.  This “One System” approach gives it an advantage over other popular “Best of Breed” solutions.  For a full articulation, consider my article, “Best of Breed: Traps and Lies”.  While not perfect, and no tool is, my point will be to show how NetSuite’s integrated architecture can be used to address the the most demanding CRM system implementation challenges:

The CRM Duplicate Information Challenge

NetSuite follows the commonly portrayed CRM model for distinguishing people who are interested in your products as customers and leads.  These lead distinctions can be further refined as suspects or prospects.  When a lead commits to buy, they become a customer.  Yet, the traditional model is a CRM system disconnected from the EPR system; hence the CRM system is used to organize prospective customers and a separate ERP system is used to hold information on customers who have placed an order.  Result: duplicate data.

In the NetSuite integrated model, a lead who places an order to buy your product or services automatically becomes a customer.  While other CRM systems offer a “Convert Lead” function to make them a customer, they lack the transactional capacity to capture and deliver on the sale.  So the order needs to get placed in the ERP system as a separate activity.  At this point, multiple views of the customer develop and the expression “Single Source of the Truth” takes on meaning.  A “Single Source of the Truth” means that you can get a report on leads and customers and it will always express what is really happening because there are not two copies representing two truths.

Ah, but you say, my CRM system (for example, Salesforce.com) is integrated with my ERP system.  The vendors created an integration.  Isn’t that now addressed?  Not really.

Even with an integration between the CRM and ERP system, because the architecture is two systems in different databases, it requires ongoing care to keep under control.  Meaning, you will find you will have to ensure the integrity of views that each system offers on that customer record.  For example, we have a client that has Salesforce.com integrated with Zuora recurring billing.  They then worked with us to use NetSuite for accounting (a three system “best of breed” integration).  The open balance of amounts due (open accounts receivable) is important to have in all three environments so that each functional actor sees the same amount.  The client is now working to make sure these balances are uniform across the three systems. Every day, they check reports; sure enough, things get off and they then spend energy getting things right again.

The example here illustrates that indeed, even though the systems are integrated, the customer information is indeed duplicated.  The need to keep the integration under control is a reflection of the duplicated data.  Can’t you avoid these costs to begin with?  With NetSuite’s single system, single database design, this is a non-issue.

Groups of People will Duplicate Data as a Matter of Course

Yet, even in a well designed single source system, if you have multiple people entering prospective sales data, it’s likely you will create duplicate records.  NetSuite has features to detect if a record is a duplicate and allow you to merge them together.  In NetSuite, the key information element to distinguish a person is an email address.  While other elements can be used, such as name or phone number, in today’s digital age, email is a far more reliable indicator of who a person is.

A good illustration of how this is relevant is the example of a customer who previously purchased from you in the past.  They will be in your NetSuite system as a customer.  What if a new salesperson, who has little history with your organization, finds a lead through a referral and begins to enter contact information into the system.  The NetSuite system will warn the user that there is already data in the system.  The typical CRM system may not know that there has been an order previously placed (the order is in the ERP system) as it is not part of its detection systems.  Consequently, the salesperson will waste time and possible act in ways that can upset your customer until her/she finally discovers that the customer has previously purchased from the company in the past.

Duplicate Data Cost Considerations

Finally, there is no free ride when a vendor says their system is integrated to another system.  Remember these points:

  1. The integration took investment and must be recouped.  You are paying for that somewhere.  If you built the integration yourself, you clearly can see the energy you put into it.
  2. The integration will require care as various software elements on each system evolve.  Hence, you need to make sure the software vendor is prepared to enhance their integration when their partner system(s) is upgraded.  If you built it yourself, make sure your staff is ready to act.
  3. You will need to invest time and energy to watch data between the systems to ensure they can be trusted and are reliable.  If you don’t put care into this, you will likely find that something undetected will become mismatched and your people will have different interpretations of what is “the truth”.  The mismatch may break trust with customers or other important business actors.

Back to the Implementation

Your CRM implementation happens over the course of time.  Most people think that the implementation is done when we “Go Live”.  Yet, I have observed that adoption can take quite a long time after the “Go Live” event.  Hence, it is important to consider that on-going adoption of the CRM is just later stages of the implementation.

Being in front of the duplicate data challenge will allow you to focus on the three other areas that will be subject to subsequent articles:

  1. Inconsistent Information Management Practices
  2. Multiple Information Origins
  3. Salesperson’s Perceived CRM Benefit

If you are ready to move up from your current CRM system and want to ensure success, we should talk.

 

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Marty Zigman

Holding all three official certifications, Marty is Southern California's NetSuite expert and leads a team of senior professionals at Prolecto Resources, Inc. He is a former Deloitte & Touche CPA and has held CTO roles. For over 25 years, Marty has produced leadership in ERP, CRM and eCommerce business systems. Contact Marty to setup a conversation.

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| Tags: , , , , | Category: CRM, NetSuite, Strategy | 5 Comments

One Comment

  1. Lilibeth
    Posted October 8, 2015 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Very well said Marty!!! I have all these four problems in my current company, we are trying work around four (4) blocking monsters.

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