When a company asks us to build them a CRM, it’s very rare that a CRM is exactly what they want or need. Yes, it’s the most popular item of software we are told we ‘require’ in order to run our sales and marketing, but what most business are looking for is ‘business management’. A way to engage all parts of the organisation in one single system.

CRMs are only a part of the picture – an integral one of course, but we’re led to believe that it will solve all problems. Sadly, no. In fact, it could end up creating more in the long term because it leads to isolation of your data and is restricted to incoming sales and a place to store contacts for marketing. But how does this data relate to the rest of the business activity?

Let’s take a manufacturer for example. They are making great progress with their pipeline and have marketing campaigns set up and they can see the correlation between the two efforts. Great. Then the sales team hands the order over to the design team. They use a different system for their design work and the project manager uses PM software and the factory uses a shop floor system which is still partly run on schedules and white boards, then it gets handed to accounts who have to circle back to the sales team to find out what was ordered in the first place. That data from the hard-won sale now seems a long way away. The thread is very fine and consistency between stages is non-existent. Sound familiar?

It’s a story that is told many times over for SMEs and it’s not difficult to see why it happens: When a company begins its life, system and process procedure is in its infancy and as it scales, more processes and more applications and more people are added. It’s only when a decision is made to grow, take investment, add services or implement a management qualification such as an ISO, that it becomes a highlight. And quite a significant one because at this stage, data has become a burden and a big job to sort.

So, what is it that a business with those fractured processes needs? Well firstly, they don’t need to be told what software they need! What they would benefit from is an opportunity to sit with someone like us who will ask you to talk us through your working day and how each area of operations fits together and the common data and shared documents between departments or stages and where you integrate with other systems and where you draw report data from and what you ultimately want to do with all that data. We’ll map your processes and together we will understand how to join it and fill in the gaps and find a better way to manage it. Yes, it will be through software, but it will be software in one place that we have created between us because you know the business and you know what it is capable of. That’s why a CRM can only take you so far. We’ll take you on the rest of the journey.

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