Integrating Customer-Focused Processes

Feature Article | January 26, 2004 by admin

A truly successful customer relationship management (CRM) strategy demands precisely this level of integration, for the simple reason that managing a customer interaction does not stop at just capturing an order. Linking customer-facing sales and service applications with back-office processes in financials and supply chain management systems is just the start; channel partners and resellers need to be folded into the process as well. With traditional CRM frontend tools, integration issues will arise at almost every customer touch point, whenever companies need to:

  • Capture complete, consistent views of customer-related processes across systems – from inquiries and order capture to fulfillment, delivery, and cash collections.
  • Provide up-to-date customer data to mobile sales and service teams as well as service representatives.
  • Adapt and update cross-application processes that can change as quickly as product offerings, customers, and partners.
  • Provide customer access to products and services through appropriate channels using the right technology.
  • Accurately handle orders across multiple fulfillment systems – even those of vendors or partners.
  • Manage various customer and product documents – from orders and invoices to product specs and sales forecasts – for ready distribution among customers, colleagues, resellers, and partner channels.

To respond to challenges like these, companies need the right combination of technology and solutions. Attaining this level of integration can be expensive, considering the resources that can go into maintaining connections or linking up to outside platform products. Only by having integration built in from the start they can reduce the total cost of a CRM implementation.

No need for additional integration products

mySAP CRM Features Enabled by SAP NetWeaver

mySAP CRM Features Enabled by SAP NetWeaver

mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) and SAP NetWeaver – SAP’s open, extensive application and integration platform – offer this combination of full-featured solutions and integration technology. mySAP CRM is among the first SAP solutions to be developed based on SAP NetWeaver. When customers install this CRM solution, they are automatically tied into the portal, collaboration, business intelligence, and master data management functionality available from SAP NetWeaver. Figure 1 provides a glimpse of some of the mySAP CRM features that SAP NetWeaver supports.
Together, mySAP CRM and SAP NetWeaver form a complete customer relationship management solution, with no need for additional integration products. This solution brings openness and flexibility to user channels, a highly intuitive user interface, powerful information management capabilities, and the built-in ability to integrate outside software and partners into the processes of a company. SAP NetWeaver is also responsible for a lower TCO by providing tools and resources for full support throughout the entire software life cycle, from implementation, to daily operation, to software configuration and enhancements.
Here are just four areas where SAP NetWeaver is working behind the scenes to put mySAP CRM on the leading edge of end-to-end, customer-centric business processes:

User interaction

People-Centric User Interface

People-Centric User Interface

Because of the vast number and types of customer-oriented activities in a company, a “CRM user” could refer to a customer, a partner, an entry-level employee, or a highly trained specialist. To engage them all, and with minimal training and maximum convenience, mySAP CRM user interfaces were specifically designed for easy navigation and a consistent look and feel.

Common Look and Feel

Common Look and Feel

What does this mean for users? SAP created a people-centric UI specifically for ease of use, based on reusable interaction patterns and SAP Enterprise Portal technology. In the people-centric UI of mySAP CRM, users can be assigned roles tailored to a particular task or to industry-specific demands, and will encounter only a limited number of screen templates across all the systems they need. So a service representative will already have a good feel for how to navigate and extract information from a screen built to access contract information from a sales system.

Sample mySAP CRM System Landscape

Sample mySAP CRM System Landscape

mySAP CRM’s openness at the user interaction level means that users can access customer information from desktop PCs, mobile laptops, handheld devices, and tablet PCs, and that they can choose from such diverse technical interaction channels as telephone, fax, email, pager, short message service (SMS), and voice over IP (VoIP).
Those in IT will also appreciate the clear separation in mySAP CRM between the user interface and the business logic, and that communication between the two layers relies on a generic service interface. In other words, user interface development is streamlined, and certain interface components can easily be regrouped, reused, or redesigned. This approach, along with the reliance on open standards and a small set of reusable UI elements, conforms to Enterprise Service Architecture (ESA) – a blueprint for reusing current application functions and making them available to a broader audience inside or outside the enterprise.

Information management

With any CRM strategy, a looming question is how to ensure access to the range of document types and sources that hold customer-focused data. Users of mySAP CRM will need access to both structured and unstructured data. mySAP CRM offers a number of features for providing information to users at their desks and on the road. For instance, in the office, users can access unstructured marketing data through the Info Center, which provides knowledge management features based on SAP Enterprise Portal (SAP EP). And when a call comes into the Interaction Center, the Solution Database will immediately give agents the backend information they need as they speak with customers. For mobile users, the third-party tool BackWeb is incorporated into the mySAP CRM solution to ensure that all the unstructured information available to online users also reaches users’ mobile services.
Extensive analytical options for reports and performance measures of the CRM activities are also available from mySAP CRM applications due to the close integration with SAP Business Information Warehouse as part of SAP NetWeaver. mySAP CRM and SAP NetWeaver also provide common administration of master data across system boundaries, enabling the smooth operation of mySAP CRM with multiple, heterogeneous backend systems.

Process integration

mySAP CRM supports a variety of integration scenarios designed to support greater responsiveness to customers, including:

  • Built-in process integration, spanning not only mySAP CRM but also applications, for instance, from mySAP ERP and mySAP SCM.
  • Collaborative, cross-company business processes such as Channel Management for collaboration with business partners, or Extended Order Management for distributed processing of customer orders across all fulfillment systems inside and outside the company.
  • Built-in groupware integration, which enables the bidirectional exchange of activities and contact information between mySAP CRM and Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes.
  • Complete workflow support using high-performance tools, such as the Workflow Modeler and predefined workflow processes.

Process integration is key for a successful CRM implementation. This means, for instance, linking campaign management processes to mySAP SCM to make sure a trade promotion not only leads to higher orders, but also ensures that stock is available and can be delivered in time! Or if a company supplies customers with products from various manufacturers, mySAP CRM allows to integrate the various fulfillment systems of its suppliers – whether they’re SAP systems or not. These are just two examples of what direct process integration brings to a CRM strategy.

Why should solutions follow the ESA blueprint?

Enterprise Services Architecture is a generic model for a system architecture that will readily support service-oriented applications. ESA is designed to make cross-component application development more cost effective by improving speed and flexibility in the development, adaptation, and customer-specific configuration of user interfaces. The new, portal-based user interface of mySAP CRM has been developed according to this model.
Using Enterprise Services Architecture, SAP customers need not develop each and every innovative application from scratch. Instead, existing application services from quality-assured components can be made available as Web services, used as the basis for specific user interfaces, or integrated into completely new applications. mySAP CRM supports open Web services based on Web standards as well as RosettaNet as a semantic standard for the exchange of business objects.
By following the ESA blueprint in their own solution landscape, companies can simplify the development of cross-functional, process-oriented applications that exceed the capabilities of conventional transaction processing based on relational databases. These applications include functions such as team collaboration, content management, and business analytics.
For more on how SAP supports ESA, see www.sap.com/esa

Application platform and life-cycle management

SAP NetWeaver runs on two technology stacks, capitalizing on the strengths that Java and ABAP each bring to application development. Similarly, in mySAP CRM, Java is the implementation platform for handheld and Internet (pricing, configuration, and e-commerce) applications, while ABAP is the basis for the core processes in mySAP CRM.
SAP customers will appreciate the ability to deploy mySAP CRM processes and functions gradually, in manageable, incremental steps based on specific business needs. This is achieved by the tight integration between mySAP CRM and the services of SAP Solution Manager, where mySAP CRM business processes are documented for smooth implementation and configuration. By reducing implementation time and optimizing the use of IT infrastructure, SAP Solution Manager enhances the ROI for the mySAP CRM solution.

Conclusion

With SAP NetWeaver technology at work, mySAP CRM offers a leading-edge solution that brings complete backend integration to frontend customer-facing processes. The benefits for mySAP CRM customers are clear: SAP NetWeaver, with its comprehensive integration capabilities across all application levels (people, information, and processes), helps reduce the total cost of mySAP CRM implementation and operation. Project teams don’t first have to spend precious resources integrating outside platform products. In addition, SAP NetWeaver provides SAP Solution Manager for implementing, operating, and monitoring all customer-focused processes, applications, and systems.
For more information on SAP NetWeaver, see www.sap.com/netweaver. For further details on the technology and business processes behind mySAP CRM, see www.sap.com/crm www.sap.com/crm and the upcoming SAP PRESS book “mySAP CRM – Customer-Focused Business Processes with SAP CRM 4.0”, edited by Rüdiger Buck-Emden and Peter Zencke.

Source: SAP Insider

Rüdiger Buck-Emden

Rüdiger Buck-Emden

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