Integration requirements for CRM, CTI

CTI integration with CRM systems is typically limited to Sales and Support offerings. Since phone systems change less often than other pieces of technology, these integrations have been “set and forget” when properly scoped. I have clients that have not touched the CTI integrations of deployments ever. These integrations are usually pretty simple in size and scope. anywhere from 3-10 fields are identified and passed from system to system. Call durations are typically returned at the end of the call for the all important “Cost per Call” and “Contact Reduction” metrics.

With more systems moving to Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics Live platforms some vendors are now offering out of the box solutions. Just one more vendor…

My current thinking is that this is a piece that could and should stay in-house, just like the phones.

Integration requirements for CRM, Challenges and opportunities

Challenges and opportunities
Integration outside the enterprise firewall needs to encompass the capabilities of the organization. Larger enterprises have investments in SOA and ESB providing them with new capabilities that can be utilized. Many organizations without these capabilities will find that standard point to point integration will more than meet the requirements for most of the integration challenges outside the firewall to a “cloud computing” CRM solution. Integration within the enterprise is complex and often layered from ERP to CRM. Middleware services, such as Tibco and WebMethods, Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) infrastructures are common and present their own challenges such as process, configuration and technical.

Ask your organization, “Are we leveraging our SOA and ESB infrastructures to their full potential?”

Do not be surprised if the answer is “no”.

Integration requirements for CRM, CRM to BI

From CRM to Business Intelligence/Analytics
While the two previous requirements focused on the sales force automation areas of CRM, integration with business intelligence and analytics tools could and often cover the spectrum of CRM applications: Sales, marketing, customer service, etc. Each department has their own tools and key performance indicators.

Functional requirements arise from leveraging the right data to enhance the customer relationship. Three areas of concentration are data mining, decision support and analytical tools. These integrations often are “nightly data dumps” from the CRM system into the business intelligence tool.

Integration requirements for CRM, ERP to CRM

From ERP to CRM
Product and Price List data from ERP to CRM is always a complex integration. Technical configurations can be complex. The volume and frequency of updated data can also be complex.

Most large contracts are negotiated with customer specific pricing, terms and conditions. For many organizations negotiated contracts are the norm and the lifeblood of the company. As a result there are typically no set of constants or rules across all negotiated customer specific prices lists. Individual negotiated contracts for all large customers would create a scenario of hundreds or thousands of unique price lists. This creates tremendous complexity for technical configuration as well as the volume and frequency of updated price list data.

Integration requirements for CRM, CRM to ERP

From CRM to ERP
Pipeline and Forecast data are the most common and most important data from CRM into an ERP system. Business process determines the complexity of the integration.

Examples of complex integration requirements can be found with just in time manufacturers (e.g., Dell). These organizations will integrate forecast data into their supply chain for competitive advantage. More common CRM to ERP integration is less complex. Generally and regardless of complexity, this integration occurs on set schedules (e.g., Weekly) as part of the sales process. True real-time capabilities are not required or necessary. Real-time availability by a vendor (product, SaaS, or ISP) will be of more concern.

Some Sales organizations have a culture of frequently adjusting pipeline and forecast requirements. This is often seen with changes in Sales and Executive management. Ideally, the change in business process would not impact the data integration; however, the technical configuration may need adjusting as well.

Integration requirements for CRM, intro

Anyone who knows me professionally, knows that I am a CRM guy. Most of my career has been implementing and making CRM systems usable and actually show real ROI. One of the biggest challenges that CRM systems have is integration with back end systems. In the cloud with hosted CRM, this actually a bigger challenge than it was in the past.  To follow are a series of posts of the major challenges any CRM system faces with integration.