Resolved
3 votes
Sparked by a comment that John Morris made on this Forum where Bogan Nafornita added:
I think CRM is actually just another business process and the tool should help manage that process.
So do you think customer relationship management is best managed by BPM?
Tuesday, August 19 2014, 09:46 AM
Share this post:
Responses (16)
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 09:59 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    1 votes
    Customer relationships are defined by an emotional interation between people and the best any kind of software can do is to keep track of it. It should not enforce standard interactions as this will ruin the human aspect. That means that there is no benefit and actually a substantial downside of using BPM to control human interactions. An improvement would come from goal-oriented processes rather than managing completion of predefined tasks. Would such a modern form of process management that empowers customers and staff to entertain all the interactions across all channels without dropping the ball enable an improvement in service quality? Absolutely. But there is no flow-diagram driven people interaction that is better than people communicating as they see fit. So what is commonly understood to be BPM today is not improving relationships ... and neither does CRM today. All it is used for is to push more information towards the customer/prospect. It lacks functionality to improve the ability to listen!
    Like
    1
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 10:04 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    2 votes
    Customer Relationship Management is not a process. It's a goal. And actually, not a very well stated goal. What does a 'managed customer relationship' mean? Very vague. So start at the end; what do you mean by it, what do you promise? A process is only the thing to deliver that promise. And then you might define some processes in 'CRM country'. And then it's just normal business. For each of the processes you have to decide which is the way you want to get grip on them (workflow style, employee driven, forced by Salesforce, etc) So, I dont't think CRM is a process on it's own, but processes might contribute to it. Like anything in business.
    Like
    1
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tim Bryce
    Tim Bryce
    Offline
    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 10:16 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    1 votes
    "Best managed"? No. But the principles can be applied to any activity in an organization requiring information (that covers just about everything, including BPM itself and programming - it's called "methodology").
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 10:58 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    2 votes
    CRM encompasses a wide range of activities and processes. To say that would hurt customer relations is wrong. CRM also involves bringing new customers onboard once they have become customers - that process in many industries is heavily managed and in fact often there are regulatory and compliance issues that must be dealt with during that CRM process. Account executive activities can also be part of a customer management process to ensure that each customer receives the level of customer care they require. Using BPM in that process does not mean an AE would be confined to reading a script or restricted from other activities it would just ensure consistency.
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 11:27 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    2 votes
    Perhaps the question is should CRM adopt BPM principles. If BPM “manages” anything it would be how you address the build? I agree with Tim on that and BPM should cover all operational front line needs. CRM is about people internal and external to facilitate best outcomes for all. It is not about "control" it should be about empowerment which allows people to get on with the job with real time feed back. This should also ensure a full audit trail of who did what when to cover not just any compliance issue but help identify any deficiencies needing attention. With the right BPM Support Software (BPMSS) you can quickly custom build exactly what is required. There should be no limitations in capability with this "outside-in" build approach. If a user can articulate you should be able to build. Hence it becomes very important that before you start this journey to build any Adaptive Application make sure the chosen BPMSS can deliver and users understand the possibilities. It will be users input that will optimise the result which in this case would have the desired AdaptiveCRM functionality
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 11:36 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    5 votes

    Why not have the courage of our convictions! Why should champions of BPM wilt when confronted with one of the most interesting, common and worthy opportunities for BPM?

    I submit that CRM is amenable to BPM, and that BPM is an ideal platform for CRM.

    First, what is CRM? (Given the question, I feel obligated to defend the original proposition!)

    CRM is the ERP for part of the fuzzy space between organizations. Thus while ERP manages the domain of well-defined financial, accounting and resource management inside the organization, between CRM, sales, marketing and procurement, we have systems enabling controlled execution of engagements between agents of different organizations. (The new term, for part of this activity at least, is "systems of engagement" (SOE) as opposed to the traditional inside-the-organization "systems of record" (SOR).)

    As we've all agreed elsewhere, BPM itself is both a methodology and a technology. I have also claimed that BPM is *the* technology of *work*, given that BPM explicitly surfaces work-related abstractions and symbols, for direct usage by managers and designers. Being able to directly model, execute and manage work with the assistance of technology is the goal of all technology; it is the labour-saving purpose of technology.

    So we have a domain of work, "CRM", and a technology suited to assisting with work. The big question then is "Is the work of CRM suitable to BPM"?

    And the answer is yes, "the work of CRM is suitable to BPM", with a caveat. (The caveat is only because both the technology of BPM and the modeling of the work of sales and marketing are not mature.)

    There are three main components to the work of sales and marketing: (1) structured communications transactions, most of which are not complete, which can also be sequentially grouped in "campaigns", (2) "narratives" or "stories" which are threaded communications transactions and (3) evolving "relationship states" between organizations, which are human- or machine-harvested semantic tokens extracted from narratives or during discussions by reps.

    Of course the most desired state changes we are looking for as a result of a sales process is "dealState>>closed" and "customerState>>customer". One advantage of the CRM system I've outlined here is that in directly supporting what sales reps do, more deals should result. More communications, better communications, more mini-campaigns, more stories, more story progression, more story conclusions as a win, all faster and clearer. As a goal, nothing is quite so clear as a "closed deal"!

    There is growing research on all three areas required for BPM-supported CRM. The communications transaction ("I leave a message for Nandini", "Nandini returns the call" are examples of communication transactions) is well known, and highly structured. Computer-assisted narrative management research and even product deployment is growing rapidly. And semantic technologies are beginning to go mainstream.

    In the context of the suggestion that customer relationships are about emotional states and that in that context the use of BPM would be a bad idea, it's worth briefly mentioning the question of language. We all speak language, at home, in business, at community events. All these venues naturally arouse our emotions. But that doesn't stop language researchers from discovering powerful insights concerning how language works. Words and language can be used to express anything expressable; in the same way, the "language of work", BPM, can usefully express anything required where technology is used to support human work.

    Most CRM systems support communication transactions in greater or lesser degree, although mostly with some awkwardness. New CRM products are beginning to show some of the capabilities described here; especially so-called "social CRM" products often show a narrative thread. On the other hand, some of the most popular CRM products are what I call "narrative fragmentation machines" which are disliked by sales reps, because it takes so long to pull together everything you need to know for a call. All these things could be done better if built on a technology that supports work directly, including the work of the sales rep. (Per the comment above about BPM technology not yet being mature, full support for flexible sales situations via BPM would require capable case-capable BPM.)

    In summary, CRM is amendable to BPM. This becomes clear when you unwrap what CRM is all about. The easy dismissal of BPM for CRM is only an artifact of insufficient analysis of what constitutes CRM. (The fact that there is comparatively little research on what could be called "theory of sales" is a compounding factor here.)

    The work patterns which define much of the work supported by CRM (communicating, story telling, state tracking) are all types of work. Add BRM to BPM, case capabilities (for the fuzzy part), plus database and various interface portals and you will have the "BPM-based CRM that eats the world".

    Like
    1
    • Peter Whibley
      more than a month ago
      I think the BPM plus CRM relationship has been understood for a long time. After all Pega are both a BPM and CRM vendor.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Peter, thanks especially for pointing out about Pega's CRM involvement. In my career I've never had the "pleasure" of using other than the most popular systems. In part it's a question of the models on which the CRM is conceived. Most CRM is not designed "from the rep outwards"; better CRM is entirely possible using traditional tools such as Java. The right models, which are models of work, are especially suited to BPM. It would be interesting to have a report on what is unique about Pega's CRM, and whether they lever their expertise in BPM and rules . . .
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 11:42 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    3 votes
    Traditional approaches to customer service using CRM and basic workflow tools fail because they do not consider the unpredictability of customers nor the power of the employee in influencing the customer relationship. Attempts to automate the employee out of the customer service equation have backfired. CRM applications on their own are totally inadequate for delivering anything but basic customer service capabilities. Organizations serious about customer experience and customer service will use a mix of CRM, Case Management, Social media, VoC and Enterprise feedback management tools.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Good points Peter. And thanks for pointing out above what Pega has achieved.
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 12:52 PM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    2 votes
    CRM implementations fail every day - so why would you want to make it even more complicated. The reason why CRM implementations fail so often is that there is a lack of a well defined, end-to-end sales process that denotes how the CRM supports the sales teams. Just so we are all clear - a well defined end-to-end sales process has everything from lead generation, opportunity creation, pre-sales and then the sales cycle itself, that has verifiable outcomes for each stage, then implementation, post sales and customer support. You can't have a discussion about CRM and BPM as it is nonsense as it is not addressing the real CRM issue. A CRM tool is no more than a sales aide with perspective analysis. It is not designed to become a sales technology platform to manage a sales interaction. Sales interaction can only be done by humans. The only time BPM and CRM can play together and be successful is when the implementation is driven and owned by the end-to-end sales process supported by a proven methodology. Trust me, I know as I have done it and had amazing results. Contact me if you want to know more about the implementations and what results were had.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Nigel, I agree and disagree with you at the same time. Certainly many, if not most, CRM projects have failed, and for some of the reasons you state, which is a lack of a well-defined end-to-end process (and process ownership, or governance). But given this state of affairs, we can't give up. In fact the very same arguments can be made for many organizational functions.

      But just because there's bad governance and poor business analysis, it does not logically follow that the domain is unsuitable for BPM. In my contribution, I show that there is a whole world of sales and relationship automation waiting for its champion. Success will require changes in sales governance, will require pioneering and deep insights into exactly what it is that sales does, and will probably be a trial and error process. But sales is work, with repeatable patterns, and conducted in concert with teams of specialists, with inputs and outputs. There is nothing unique about this work that makes BPM inappropriate. I say this as a sales person who would love to spend more time talking with people, i.e. building a consensus for a proposal, than wrestling with systems that don't help me keep track of my stories.

      Sales is work like any other work. Bring on the BPM.
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Amy Barth
    Amy Barth
    Offline
    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 01:13 PM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    2 votes
    Customer relationship management is a tricky aspect of business to "manage" by technology since the human factor introduces infinite variables and therefore exceptions to every "rule." BUT, as was pointed out above, and by Bogan Nafornita, the customer relationship can be assisted by a BPM system like Pega or Appian. Also, the agility of a BPM system allows for updates and changes to be made fairly readily so that exceptions can be addressed as warranted. You cannot replace the human touch, though, with a tool. An overly-automated system can create more problems than they solve. It's up to the business to define it's customer relationship approach and/or culture, and the tool can be made to match. A system that takes more work to adjust (non-BPM), can become an issue if updates are delayed or postponed, and a liability when trying to better address customer service needs.
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 01:22 PM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    3 votes
    CRM is an BPM (trio: discipline, practices/architecture and tools) application. Proof: BECAUSE 1. Customer experience is a process (see ref 1) 2. Enterprise is a system of processes (see ref 2) THEN coordination between them is a process as well. Thanks, AS
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 03:24 PM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    3 votes
    CRM is best implemented via BPM, yes. But then, so are many other packaged apps and large software suites. Procure-to-pay, employee onboarding and retention, and expense management, for example, represent only a handful of categories in which incumbent technology will be replaced by BPM (or packaged solutions built around BPM engines).
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Bravo Scott. Let the disaggregation of ERP monoliths begin (or maybe, "continue") . . .
    • Scott Francis
      more than a month ago
      A good bit of our work recently has been helping people produce BPM-enabled applications to go to market with. Supports the thesis that process-centric applications may well displace traditional "data-centric" maintenance applications that passed themselves off as "CRM/ERP/etc."
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 19 2014, 11:12 PM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    2 votes
    no, BPM should not be used to replace CRM. CRM software is purpose built to solve one series of business challenges and one automate associated processes. Building something from the ground up with a BPM tool is development for development sake and the resultant system would be marginally better at best. BPM has a place in the customer relationship but it's in addition to traditional CRM tools not in lieu of. Personally, I think Salesforce is legacy technology today and more often than not is used as nothing more than a "tracking system". The future of CRM is incorporating CEM, analytics, and marketing automation tools to fully engage and monitize customer interactions. BPM can definitely be a part of that solution but it's not going to replace the CRM data model-centric view of the world.
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, August 20 2014, 12:47 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    3 votes
    Quite a few successful applications today could be described as nothing more than "a great purpose-built process-centric application for X" Consider: - the social software space vendors are largely about providing process around social media interactions - we've implemented more than one process-centric CRM implementation - products for resolving fraud are largely a combination of big-data and process Lots of startups are solving specific process problems. That often isn't how they frame it however, so they may well fall into the salesforce "tracking system / data maintenance" trap. To me, the question isn't whether CRM should be managed by BPM... - if it has volume, and value, and it is business, you want to apply BPM to it.. . - if managing customer relationships happens at volume, has value, and is part of your business, apply BPM to it... - but which software package you use is hardly the defining feature - it just dictates how hard it will be to apply BPM principles to what you do to improve upon your customer relationship management.
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, August 20 2014, 03:29 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    3 votes
    Let's compare CRM with other application domains, e.g. accounting, warehouse management, capacity planning. Let's evaluate each by the following axis: - data logic - computational logic - process logic Accounting and warehouse are data-intensive domains: they are essentially a database plus user interface and reporting. Computations are pretty straightforward, really. Data logic clearly prevails here. Capacity planning doesn't go far from the above yet it's derivative - Advanced Planning and Scheduling - features extremely sophisticated computations. Now what about CRM? Not much data logic: customers, contacts, leads, opportunities, deals - not too complicated, really. Almost no computations. But a lot of process logic! So the answer is yes: BPM and BPMS are must-have for any decent CRM applications. The next question is: what's better - 1) leverage on out-of-the-shelf CRM application and add/customize processes or 2) use a generic BPMS as a platform and build a CRM application on top of it? From my experience, it's much easier to add data logic to BPMS than to add processes to a CRM package so I vote for the second option.
    • Michal Rykiert
      more than a month ago
      Agreed. My vote goes to 2nd option as well.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Anatoly, also agree with 2nd option, and I say this as a B2B sales person. However, that assumes that the organization has the capabilities to understand what sales is all about. Most organizations don't, so Option No. 2 ends up as "paving the cowpath", or automating bad ways of executing sales.
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, August 20 2014, 06:14 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    3 votes
    Current CRM tools are just pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all BPM solutions that deal with just one process (or several connected ones, at most). A company would decide between a CRM tool or a BPM tool according to its own process maturity stage. If they have mature enough sales processes, they'd likely roll their own cigar and model their processes in a BPMS. If they do not have mature processes, the average process proposed by the pre-packaged CRM solution is anyway better they what they currently have. Probably, this is how most of the IT tools get bought anyway. The customer also buys (into) a bit of a BPM logic embedded in the tool, something that somehow upgrades its work practices at the same time with the IT landscape. In explaining what CRM means, I think we tend to get too seduced about "relationship" semantics, visualizing an ideal world where enlightened customer reps connect to customer via emotions and empathy and forget about mundane tasks like closing deals, which happen magically through ethereal, harmonic symphonies. Well, in reality, CRM is just a marketing spin to "sales funnel management and post-sales support" and, in same said reality, there's a lot of blue collar work in such case management situations, especially when we're talking about support functions. While building relationships is what talented salespeople ultimately do, we know there's no IT tool to support that, since this is fundamentally a human skill that few posess. Talk about relationship with an average salesman, under the burden of targets, quotas, daily funnel management and they probably think to themselves with the classic: "ain't nobody got no time fo' that!"
    The reply is currently minimized Show
  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 21 2014, 10:01 AM - #Permalink
    Resolved
    2 votes
    BPM and CRM both come out of the same wrong-headed eighties thinking that we can manage customers. An extension of the guru thinking of the sixties which sold to companies by telling them what they wanted to hear – we can set strategy, we can manage customers, we can make staff more effective… The internet has thrown that rulebook into the bin. Taking it back out, dusting it down and writing BPM on the cover instead of CRM is not the answer. The new world we find ourselves in, like it or not, is not about managing or bullying people into buying but making it easier for them to do so (removing friction is the jargon). Unfortunately the biggest friction is usually the salespeople themselves. At the start of the 20th century there were two ways of selling. First was the door-to-door salesperson. Second was the shop, where goods were behind the counter and you had to ask for them. They invented the supermarket. What did they discover? People like to make decisions for themselves! Companies, especially B2B ones, don’t seem to have learned that lesson. They fear letting the customer choose – they want to pester them into buying. That’s the principle CRM is based on – don’t let the salesperson forget the buyer – make sure he schedules a pestering email or phone call, and another, and another. Meanwhile Process has run rings round this mentality. I’m sorry to nag, but it is my old friend Amazon. They showed how to “onboard” potential buyers using data and process. How to make them welcome, remind them of their options and help them buy. Then they made the process so good it ran rings round supermarkets, never mind salespeople. We need to think about the processes through which people discover a need, choose a product and make a purchase. And we need to make them work through optimising our business processes, not through trying to manage the customer. BPO, not BPM. If we do that right, we’ll get rid of not just CRM but the whole detested sales industry overnight. And make BPM part of the revenue generation, not just the cost reduction part of the business.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Peter, you have a way with words, certainly. You're probably a good sales person. We could use some more. Although we aren't always welcome, as you've made all too clear.

      Ken Olsen was founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), the memories of which are now being lost to the mists of time (the remains of course comprise the systems division of HP). Ken was a brilliant engineer and business executive. And he agreed with you concerning the uselessness of sales.

      "Let's empower our engineering-oriented customers with a marvellous catalogue of all our products; the products will sell themselves." And DEC sales people were ostensibly there merely to support customers . . . except it didn't turn out very well. Despite the advantages of VAX and MicroVAX, IBM sold rings around DEC, with the System 36 and System 38. "Sold", because major systems are not commodities. The example of Amazon or supermarkets is irrelevant when considering what happens when career-affecting major platform commitments are made.

      Notice that the strict definition of "CRM" is not really about "managing the customer" (to which you rightly object), rather the acronym refers to "managing the *relationship*, with the customer". And thus CRM systems aspire to be "force multipliers" for the harried sales person, who does his or her best to manage the strange interface between vendor, prospects and customers.

      Ironically, there was a certain arrogance at the heart of DEC engineering culture, that "we know best for you", and that "we shouldn't have to engage with you to explain ourselves". While this characterization is unfair to many excellent DEC reps, nevertheless there's still a kernel of truth to it. Rather than "pester" the customer, the honourable and successful sales rep engages with the customer to see whether there's a match or not. I have yet to find a customer that was willing to be pestered into anything . . . although I've tried. In a nice way. : )

      As for BPM, as per my note above, I completely concur that BPM is the right technology platform on which to build great customer engagement and relationship systems.

      Back to pestering . . .
    The reply is currently minimized Show
Your Reply

Join the Discussion

Want to join the discussion?

Login, or create an account to participate in the forum.

Top Participants

Dr Alexander Samarin
276 Replies
26/09/2016
David Chassels
269 Replies
23/09/2016
Emiel Kelly
221 Replies
26/09/2016
Bogdan Nafornita
209 Replies
26/09/2016
E Scott Menter
182 Replies
23/09/2016