Friday, November 27, 2009

ERP Manufacturing Software Encompix Replaces MRP and CRM Systems

Sly, Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, has licensed Encompix ERP software to replace a series of non-integrated systems including Caelus MRP and Goldmine CRM. Sly was looking for an integrated system that fit their business processes. One of the biggest factors in selecting Encompix was its ability to handling Sly's estimating requirements. The implementation will commence in 2006 at Sly's corporate office in Cleveland and their manufacturing plant in Mississippi. The firm was founded in 1874 as a manufacturer of foundry equipment. The company's experiences with dusty environments lead to its development of dust collection equipment. Today, the company designs and manufacturers custom-engineered dust collectors and scrubbers.

Encompix (www.encompix.com) has filled the manufacturing software requirements of Engineer-to-Order companies since 1992. The company name reflects the commitment to developing business application solutions that encompass the complex areas of project-based and job-based manufacturing. Encompix provides ETO manufacturers with a competitive advantage by improving bottom line results.

According to Thomas R. Cutler, spokesperson for the ETO Institute (www.etoinstitute.org), "Encompix continues to capture significant marketshare in the ETO environment because few other ERP vendors truly understand the nuances and significant distinctions of the ETO process versus the repetitive manufacturing process. Encompix now has more than 200 of the leading ETO manufacturing firms in North America using their ERP Software solution."

Encompix www.encompix.com Roger Meloy rmeloy@encompix.com 513-733-0066

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Do you launch your CRM this year?

Do you launch your CRM this year?

Publishing Guidelines: You may publish my article in your newsletter, on your website or in your print publication provided you include the resource box at the end. Notification would be appreciated but is not required.

By S. Maurer

Well, you need to know few things.

You need a managerially useful, end-to-end view of the CRM process from a marketing perspective. The basic perspective taken is that of the customer, not the company. In other words, what do managers need to know about their customers and how is that information used to develop a complete CRM perspective?

We suggest the strong marries it goes the need to properly integrate CRM with ERP and SCM applications.

The blessing that CRM and the Internet have lead customers to expect greater access to companies through communication channels it lives?

Health maintenance and preferred provider organizations plows discovering that CRM applications enable them to exploit the cross-marketing potential of their extensive databases to tailor their you policy to clients.

Because the whole idea is to customize each system to a specific company needs, there is no universal definition of Customer Relationship Management CRM, which has both business-to-business and business-to-consumer applications.

Even though research shows that Customer Relationship Management CRM initiatives have shown little success, a recent poll shows that 35 percent of executives surveyed said their organizations will launch Customer Relationship Management CRM initiatives this year.

S. Maurer is a 53-years old college graduated IT professional, with 30 years of experience in the computer & technology business. Now is the Correspondence Courses Director of the Abet Open University: http://mba-open-university.net and http://distance-learning-mba-online-mba-program-executive-jobs.net.

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ERP Brazil: Microsoft Dynamics NAV, AX, CRM localized family

When your company plans to outsource its manufacturing operations to such countries as Brazil, the ERP system for the overseas subsidiary is one of the first decisions to make.  In this small article we will concentrate on functional side of the Microsoft Dynamics ERPs, such as Microsoft Navision, Microsoft Axapta and Microsoft CRM

When your company plans to outsource its manufacturing operations to such countries as Brazil, the ERP system for the overseas subsidiary is one of the first decisions to make.  In this small article we will concentrate on functional side of the Microsoft Dynamics ERPs, such as Microsoft Navision, Microsoft Axapta and Microsoft CRM and we will not touch background technologies (Microsoft .Net vs. EJB/Java discussions)

  • Localization.  It usually has two components: language translation (in the case of Brazil it is Brazilian Portuguese) and sales, purchasing taxes and government regulation/reporting.  In the case of Brazil we usually talk about these taxes & regulations: CNAE, CPF, IE, IEST, IM.
  • Local versus International MRP brand.  This is usually the question beyond the functionality of the ERP ? you need to decide for yourself if you would like advanced localization features (usually provided by local made ERP ? Microsiga or Datasul to name two) or you want more control over your overseas operations from headquarters ? this will probably be international ERP brand, one of them we are evaluating here ? Microsoft Dynamics family (former name was Microsoft Business Solutions)
  • Navision/Microsoft Dynamics NAV.  Around 2004 Microsoft Business Solutions tried to unify its international ERP offer.  As the result, in many countries, including Brazil, East Europe, Russia and others Navision kind of pushed out of the market another MBS ERP ? Microsoft Great Plains (currently Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 ? Brazilian version is not available, however you can get local support from Alba Spectrum).  There were multiple reasons, including technical feasibility, they are beyond the scope of this article.  Navision is localized and has several years of successful implementation in S?o Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and across Brazil.  One of the strong points of Navision is Manufacturing module.  We see strong demand for Navision ERP implementation from multinational corporations with headquarters in Europe, especially continental: Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
  • Axapta/Microsoft Dynamics AX.  This is relatively new ERP ? its design was completed in the very end of XX century, Navision Software bought Axapta prior to be purchased by Microsoft Business Solutions itself.  Brazilian localization of Axapta is now complete and it will be released in the first quarter of 2006.  In Brazil Microsoft has experiment with Axapta pricing and it is now targeted to compete with Microsiga and Datasul from one side and with SAP Business One from another side.  Axapta implementation cycle is longer than for SAP BO, however Axapta is more flexible in its ability to automate upper midsize and large scale business.
  • Microsoft CRM/Dynamics CRM.  Now we are in the process of upgrade from MS CRM 1.2 to its 3.0 version.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 will be more flexible to automate franchisee networks and nation-wide servicing organizations.  The question of selection is more simple ? if you are committed to Microsoft platform ? you should know that Microsoft CRM is promoted Worldwide.  Here we have to say some words about technical side of Microsoft CRM, especially considering some challenges of MS CRM upgrade ? it heavily uses .Net platform, XML web services and requires strong server side programming, if you need Microsoft CRM customization and custom pieces upgrade (Microsoft CRM SDK 3.0 is a bit different from MS CRM SDK 1.2).  In Brazil we saw instances of Microsoft CRM, coexisting with such corporate platform as IBM Lotus Notes Domino                                                                                          

If you need help ? give us a call: S?o Paulo: +55-11-3444-4949, USA 1-866-528-0577, 1-630-961-5918, Europa: +44-20-8123-2580, +45-36-96-5520 or help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is ERP consultant at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com http://www.greatplains.com.mx http://www.enterlogix.com.br ) - Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, Navision, Axapta, MS CRM, SAP Business One, Oracle Financials and IBM Lotus Domino Partner, serving corporate customers in the following industries: Aerospace & Defense

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Automotive Retail BDC and Internet Departments - CRM Alone is Not Enough

CRM software is only one component of Information Technology.

Information Technology (IT) should comprise all hardware and software data solutions; marketing and communication systems; and most importantly the design, testing, application and refinement of the methods of implementation.

In other words, IT is not just software and hardware, it is the central philosophy and methodology underlying the coordinated application of technological assets in the search for efficient growth.

IT Objectives:

Maximize capitalization of internet prospects Maximize capitalization of global corporate data Minimize Internet and/or BDC departmental overhead Reduce third-party lead referral costs Increase captive lead frequency Strengthen ancillary revenue streams - parts, service and merchandise Exploit horizontal market opportunities

As such, a CRM platform cannot not be considered - in itself - an efficient vehicle for growth. Rather, the coordination of CRM with all other IT assets, in concert with a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy - across all franchises (and beyond) - remains the key to attaining and sustaining a superior level of efficient growth.

With this in mind, the evaluation of any piece of hardware or software should include it's ability to:

Work properly Accommodate strategic goals and processes "Talk" to other systems Adapt Be easy to use and understand Work quickly Work securely and privately

With regard to personnel, the ideal IT manager should not only possess a reasonable knowledge of hardware and software systems, but also a strong grasp of the retail marketplace, in addition to marketing and communications strategies. The IT manager will consolidate all technological assets and (working in conjunction with the principal(s)) develop new strategies facilitated via this nascent consolidation of datasources and communications systems.

Moreover, the IT manager is the most important piece of the puzzle; for it is through this key employee that all data and communications pass, all systems unite; and the successful, efficient utilization of this amalgamation via strategic marketing initiatives is dependent. No other single employee has the potential to control so much, and through doing so contribute so much.

In closing: Where most have welcomed and quickly capitalized upon technological advances in communication, the automotive retail industry - obstinate and myopic - has barely capitulated. Hence, the opportunities just over the horizon may be considerable for those who endeavor.

Fabien Vegas is founder and president of www.fabienvegas.com, a CRM solution provider and applications development company.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

CRM vs SFA - What's the Difference?

I've recently had a lot of questions about the difference between CRM and SFA and which one is right for your company. "CRM" is so broadly used these days it's really hard to completely wrap your head around it.

Let's start with a couple of basic definitions:

CRM - Customer Relationship Management is about finding, getting, and retaining customer relationships.

SFA - Sales Force Automation is about managing and supporting sales reps. Generally consists of contact management, opportunity management, and pipeline management.

CRM is more centered around the customer and consists of modules to handle tracking customer support issues, order tracking and datawarehousing. Customer focus can be used to describe most parts of a CRM system. Some examples of data collected by CRM systems include:

1) Campaign tracking

2) Purchase history

3) Shipping history

4) Account data

5) Sales data

SFA is more centered around making sales, sales people, improving close rates and managing the day-to-day of getting sales done. SFA is included in CRM in a lot of cases and since SFA usually handles much of the same data collection that a CRM system would, it makes sense to purchase a CRM system rather than a standalone SFA solution.

Companies like Siebel or Salesforce.com offer excellent hosted CRM solutions with feature-rich functionality well within your budget (starting around $65/user/month).

For more information about CRM, visit: http://crm.blogs.com/crm/what_is_crm/

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Five Steps To A Successful CRM Implementation

Review a stack of business journals and three letters will likely pop up time and time again - CRM. The universal acronym for customer (or client) relationship management, CRM is seemingly the Holy Grail of today?s business manager. For the professional services person, some iterations of CRM may be confusing - many are slanted toward automating customer service operations. But never fear, there is a whole lot more to CRM than fielding service calls. In fact, a new breed of CRM is quickly becoming a powerful solution for professional services firms, especially those with management teams that want to leverage firm-wide intellectual property to grow their client base, improve productivity and maximize profitability.

Unlike accounting or HR solutions that are primarily used by highly trained and skilled personnel within a single department, CRM is an enterprise application that is used by virtually everyone across the firm. When deployed in an organization, CRM solutions aggregate vast amounts of information to create a pool of knowledge that can be used to prospect new business, validate leads, analyze processes and more. Sounds great. But the question remains: how can a firm ensure success? Following are five simple steps that can help put your organization on the path to CRM success.

1. Remember that Culture is King ? A CRM solution is more than a new software package. It also encompasses a mindset, a way of doing business and a way of interacting with others in the firm. The success of a CRM implementation rests on the shoulders of a workforce that is willing to share information about clients and contacts. However, this "collaborative" mentality flies in the face of the culture within some professional services firms. For better or worse, many professional services practitioners are skeptical of sharing contact information for fear of losing opportunities to generate work that they can produce themselves. However, if a CRM implementation is introduced to the workforce as an opportunity to create new opportunities for all, success rates will improve significantly.

Consequently, it is especially important to publicize instances when shared information benefits the firm-at-large. Management must work toward creating a culture that is based upon "the greater good" rather than "individual gain." To reach this goal, users must see proof that the information they share will be used to improve operations and add new business that will benefit all members of the firm. It may take some time, but such a culture shift is worth the effort.

2. Set Realistic Goals ? One of the greatest mistakes a management team can make is to force-feed new technology across the organization. This is particularly true with a CRM implementation. As firm management prepares for a CRM rollout, planning and patience are critical. Working with the implementation team from the software developer, management should agree upon a plan of phasing software use across the firm. Some organizations orchestrate a CRM rollout by location, others by practice group or department. Regardless, this type of phased approach gives both the firm and the implementation team an opportunity to make adjustments, manage expectations, achieve milestones and promote successes.

3. Obtain and Maintain Senior Management Support ? Successful CRM implementations start and end at the top. Firms simply cannot achieve success without full management buy-in, nor can management set the process in motion and walk away. As a rule, successful CRM implementations are characterized as those in which management leads by example. Rolling-out a CRM solution takes hard work, but the benefits are substantial. Management should not sugar coat the process or minimize the effort involved. Similarly, as milestones are achieved, those same managers should be the first to strongly promote the benefits being realized by the firm.

4. Analyze Working Processes ? The process of fitting a CRM solution into a professional services organization provides a wonderful opportunity to evaluate processes and procedures across the firm. Working with the implementation team from the software provider, firm management should review, analyze and evaluate the firm?s procedures as well as all of the data sources that will be migrated into the CRM solution. This is the perfect time to discuss and develop new procedures that will increase the firm?s success.

5. Select the Right Software Partner ? While teaming with the right solution provider is important to every software implementation, it is absolutely critical when dealing with a CRM solution. The way CRM is utilized by a professional services firm differs greatly from the way CRM is used by a product-oriented organization. Therefore, it is critical for services-based organizations to choose a software provider that specializes in professional services solutions. Equally important is the software solution?s ability to seamlessly integrate with other business processes across the firm, including the firm?s financial and practice management systems. The ability to correlate client relationship management and new business development activities with firm financial performance greatly enhances the ROI generated by CRM. Finally, firms should closely review the depth and breadth of consulting services provided by CRM vendors being considered. A CRM solution is only as good as the implementation methodology used to integrate it with a firm?s business processes. Make sure that the vendor you select can provide experienced and dedicated consulting staff members that will work with your team to ensure success.

A successful CRM implementation can help a professional services firm stay head and shoulders above the competition. Keep these five steps in mind, and you and your firm will be well on your way to CRM success.

Posted by David Cowgill, Founder of the CRM Blog http://crm.blogs.com/

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Making CRM Work

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business philosophy, not just a technology - understanding your customers' needs enables you to build better relationships and increase sales. Using the philosophy of CRM helps "to get and to keep more customers who stay with you longer".

Although a sound customer relationship management strategy has to come first, it can be effectively supported by CRM software.

The benefits of software?

Excellent customer service is about being aware of customer needs and reacting to them effectively.

CRM technology helps you to understand, anticipate and respond to your customers' needs in a consistent way, right across your organization because it provides you with management information. It has been said that the creation, distribution and manipulation of information is all that management is about and it is certainly true that without information about what is going on, when, by whom, with what, at what cost, at what margin etc. a business will almost certainly fail.

CRM technology also needs to be integrated into the business process. Organizations can only benefit from the discipline CRM imposes if it is.

As the management at Customer FOCUS have noted: "Changing your system means you are leaving behind something that everyone is comfortable and familiar with. Replacing it with a modern business operation & management system such as Customer FOCUS, is like getting out from behind the wheel of your familiar old Ford Mondeo with the worn leather seats and jumping into the cockpit of a Boeing 747. When installing a CRM system the right combination of critical factors need to come together at the right time. If they do your project will be a success and your business will take off to new heights. If certain critical elements are ignored by you or not given enough importance, you could find your project resembling a smoking crater!"

How does a CRM system help?

CRM will help your business if you view it as a set of tools that let you to do more for, and get more from, your customers. CRM can help you with:

1. Operational efficiency - to be more productive. All businesses need to make their existing resources more productive, improve quality and service. Indeed surveys suggest that, for example, sales people spend as little as 10% of their time actually selling.

2. Customer responsiveness - to meet demanding customer's increasing demands. Customers are becoming used to shopping and interacting with businesses over the Internet and email and they expect instant responses and rapid, personalized service.

3. Cost containment - to do more with fewer resources. Continually evolve to keep pace with change and competition and make sure the investments you make today support you tomorrow, without the costs of 'elephant' upgrades.

A good system, like Customer FOCUS, also provides:

1. One system for all tasks. No separate spreadsheets, databases and different software packages that you can access from anywhere - work from home, remote sites or even customer sites in your live business system.

2. The information you want when you want it. For example the identification of target customers or prospects in minutes delivered in your own report design as print or spreadsheets that are automatically e-mailed to you and / or your chosen colleagues.

3. Contact & quotation Information on all prospects and clients - enable your sales team to use to reduce the time they spend on admin and increase the information available to other areas of the business. Proposals can be generated in minutes and then stored and referenced by probability, value, margin or date.

4. Electronic integration - produce everything from quotes to statements as e-mails direct from the desktop. Link with Microsoft Office, Outlook, the Internet and your XDA to ensure you gain the full benefit of other packages on or off site.

5. A fully customisable system. Your own customer, prospect, supplier, product & service and staff databases, diary, planner, quotations, enquiries, sales order, despatch and invoice, manufacturing, purchase, receipts, projects and job costing, CRM operations, service and support, marketing planning and execution, general ledger and accounts all in your own language as all wording & drop down menus can be easily customised to suit your business and industry.

Richard Hill is a Director of E-CRM Solutions, that specialises in CRM, direct and internet marketing [http://www.e-crm.co.uk] for SMEs. He is non-executive Chairman of Innovantage [http://www.innovantage.co.uk] a business intelligence company and a non-executive director of Innovecom [http://www.innovecom.com] a computer networking company.

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