|By Nishit Rao, Murali Varmaraja||
|June 7, 2009 10:15 AM EDT||
Online commerce is no longer just for consumer products, but also for direct and indirect goods and services. As a result, new demands are placed on classic customer relationship management (CRM) applications. While most have successfully automated customer-facing interactions (such as order capture, configuration, pricing, and order query), they still rely on external systems to process subsequent steps (such as invoicing, fulfillment, and pick-pack-ship), which are completed in a back-office enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. This leads to disjointed business processes and multiple user interfaces, each executing well within the native application (CRM or ERP), and requiring the creation of point-to-point and proprietary integrations and cumbersome custom user interfaces that are difficult to extend and maintain.
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In this article, we focus on interactions between CRM order management (CRM OM) components, such as pricing, booking, invoicing, approvals, and product and customer master data. We also demonstrate how to streamline interactions and flexibly manage customer-driven change through a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process approach that utilize standards-based products, such as Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) and enterprise service bus (ESB).
What Makes CRM OM Demanding?
CRM OM is a mission-critical application that helps increase revenue by turning each customer interaction into an opportunity to sell a solution based on customer needs. CRM OM applications also help nontechnical business users consistently define and enforce selling policies across all customer interaction channels.
Quote-to-cash is a common but complex business process that includes a number of steps: identification and verification of the customer, creating quotes and capturing orders, verifying credit, checking for existing contracts, ensuring inventory and status, determining and providing a quote to the customer, generating an order, provisioning, shipping, invoicing, and applying the payment. As explained in Figure 1, quote-to-cash spans several systems, including CRM, ERP, and supply chain management; involves a number of roles, including call center agents, shipping clerks, order process analysts, and managers; may take minutes or days to complete; and requires oversight by highly trained individuals.
These complex processes - such as selling policies, consistent enforcement, multichannel platform support, and order capture - typically require multiple application touch points and make customer-facing commerce applications one of the most complex to build and maintain.
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