A Balanced CRM Suite That Puts Breadth Ahead of Depth
Sales Force Automation
Sales force automation, or simply Sales as referred to by SAP, is organized around six primary functions.
- Account and activity management are where sales pros spend the bulk of their time organizing and reviewing prospects and customers as well as recording sales activities
- New business development supports lead qualification, opportunity management and sales quotes
- Selling of products and services includes sales order management and returns processing
- Product and service portfolio management facilitates product management, price lists and discounts
- Customer invoicing follows the sales order fulfillment process with invoice generation, and
- Sales planning aids sales target management
System support functions such as approval processing can be linked to transactions such as quotes, orders and invoices in order to manage customer pricing and permitted discounts—tasks that can consume many hours of sales management time and contribute to longer process cycles when left to manual methods. The sales module does a good job in dynamically linking communications channels such as the phone, email or instant messaging with context-related and task-oriented business activities.
Core sales processes such as account/contact/activity/opportunity management are straight-forward and in line with nearly all competitor CRM solutions. However, SAP leverages its back office ERP capabilities to enhance sales functions that cannot be matched by CRM-only competitors. Sales staff can create quotes, check customer credit limits, verify product availability, process sales orders, identify up-selling and cross-selling opportunities and review customer invoices. Clearly having visibility to more customer information such as terms, credit utilization and outstanding receivables delivers a more comprehensive customer view to the sales team.
Marketing is broadly divided into the two management functions of market development and campaign management. Market development facilitates market information management, competitor intelligence and project management for marketing programs. The market development functionality is not particularly deep, but nonetheless delivers useful marketing management tools that are largely absent in even the SaaS CRM-only competitors. Campaign management includes account attributes, segmentation, target list development, campaign measurement and integration with sales force automation. It covers the basics.
An unfortunate reality in the SaaS CRM competitive landscape is that marketing generally lacks sophistication and gets the short stick when compared to sales and service. Business ByDesign doesn't show such an obvious disregard for marketing and delivers solid functionality. If SAP chooses to advance marketing, with functions such as automated lead management, lead scoring, nurture campaigns and improved analytics, is could compete for category leadership in this area.
Service is organized around customer care, field service and entitlement management. Customer care is primarily a case management function with basic incident assignments, escalation rules and some knowledge management. Field service is somewhat unique among SaaS CRM service solutions and includes service and repair tracking, spare parts handling and customer confirmations. This is another function facilitated by strong back office integration, however, unless and until it incorporates technician dispatch and at least some level of workforce management, it is limited to simple field service shops. Entitlement management is another somewhat unique feature and quite useful for inventory carrying organizations, particularly those will serial and lot tracking, product registration, warranty management or service level agreements.
The collaboration window is the central communications hub that links Business ByDesign with desktop applications, instant messaging and telephone systems. While helpful throughout the CRM suite, it is particularly useful for customer service representatives (CSRs). With computer telephony integration, customer calls are routed and deliver inbound screen pops, complete with caller identification and customer data points, to the receiving CSR. The service representative can initiate a case, service order or communication such as email or meeting request directly from the collaboration window without having to navigate elsewhere in the application.
Service delivers a comprehensive view of the customer relationship, including those back office transactions that are available with an integrated accounting or ERP solution. The lingering global recession and increased customer vocalization via social media channels have reinforced business concepts such as customer experience management and the need for delivering consistent customer service. The service module provides a good foundation for systemic and consistent customer service. If SAP supplements this transaction-based service module with social CRM or social tools and increased functionality around multi-channel support it has the potential for significantly increased value. Like its SAP CRM 7 (on-premise) big brother, service is reasonable for help desk and uncomplicated field service environments, however, probably not best suited for high volume B2C contact centers.
Most SaaS CRM solutions originate from either SFA or service and subsequently build out the remaining suite. If born from SFA, they often possess strong sales process support, however, customer service is an after-thought and comparatively weak—or vice versa if the CRM suite originated with service. Business ByDesign bucks this trend by providing a more balanced CRM suite. This should serve well for customers seeking CRM for all of their customer facing departments.
Additional CRM Suite Capabilities
Additional foundation or system wide Business ByDesign capabilities include the following:
- The system was clearly designed for simple and efficient user help. Every screen provides one-click access for logging a help inquiry and there is abundant online help, a built-in learning environment, and access to the SAP moderated, Business ByDesign online community.
- A one-click personalize button accesses and permits user placement for role specific widgets, mashups and reports—such as the inbox, calendar, task lists, currency converter, maps or data set views such as account sales details or a pipeline.
- Workflow definition and approvals processing are inherent throughout the application. The workflow supports business process automation for traditional processes, however, lacks a flexible workflow engine capable of modifying many of Business ByDesign's standard workflow definitions—or creating unique and flexible workflows from scratch.
- Global capabilities, including support for several countries, multiple languages, multiple currencies, and compliance with local or regional regulations.
- The Corporate Performance dashboard delivers flexible analytics with one click access to dynamic report lists. Subsequent drill down as well as mixing variables and applying filters permits deeper analysis. Business ByDesign also includes a standard reports library with over 300 reports.
- The Work Center is a central design element that pulls together related business activities, permitting an employee to focus on a set of tasks that naturally belong together.
- The Collaboration Window is a desktop component that centralizes quick access to frequently used functions and Microsoft Office applications.
- The application supports ubiquitous browsers, mobile devices and tablets.
- SAP suggests that by end of 2012, ByDesign will begin to use the highly touted HANA in-memory columnar database for accelerated and improved business intelligence delivery.
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Most SaaS CRM solutions originate from either SFA or service and subsequently build out the remaining suite. If born from SFA, they possess strong sales process support, however, customer service is an after-thought and comparatively weak—or vice versa. Business ByDesign bucks this trend by providing a more balanced CRM suite. This should serve well for customers seeking CRM utilization across their customer facing departments.