CRM - managing business relationships efficiently

CRM Goes XRM – Business Relationships at a Glance

Industry experts consider XRM to be one of the most important trends in IT-supported business relationship management. The concept behind it is not new: the focus is on the desire to capture all company interactions in order to be able to work out competitive advantages on the basis of the information gained. What is new, however, is the growing need on the part of industry to fine-tune its own performance in this field as well.

Any Relationship Management, XRM for short, describes the capture, mapping, management and control of relationships between all persons and companies involved in the business process. In comparison to classic Customer Relationship Management (CRM), the XRM concept integrates not only customers but also competitors, press and lobby contacts or suppliers as actors in an integrated, comprehensive relationship management. The current XRM trend is based on the widespread insight that profitable relationship management is only possible through structured mapping of all interactions with the corporate environment. Here, too, the focus of this consideration is on the customers who ultimately make up the company’s success.

XRM software solutions should therefore primarily help to capture, store and optimize information that is necessary for the initiation, maintenance and expansion of business relationships. In addition, the company-wide use of XRM software can be understood as a uniform medium that enables access to a common knowledge base and integrated processes across department boundaries.

A classic example of the added value of an any relations-capable CRM concept is the process-specific administration of persons and companies with their respective roles specific to the process. The concept takes into account the fact that in everyday business the same person can have different roles in different contexts. In industry, for example, a customer is sometimes also a supplier and interested party for a product from another division. In addition, this person naturally has a relationship with various other persons and companies. Depending on the application, it may therefore be worthwhile to map this network of relationships and evaluate it on a transaction-specific basis. The resulting information network is a reflection of the immediate corporate environment and – if used correctly – can make a significant contribution to the success of the company. In practice, this information can make the decisive difference in order to be successful in a tender, for example.

For example, it would be conceivable to include all internal and external persons and companies involved in the tendering context as ‘buying centers’ in the bid. In addition to the customer contact persons and the internal sales manager, other internal persons from design and quotation calculation may also be involved. Information about external contacts such as known competitors who are also in the selection process, any subcontractors, suppliers or consultants involved can also play an important role for the hoped-for order intake.

The ability to capture all these actors in one software solution is more than just a ‘Nice to have’ today. It is often decisive for success, especially in industrial companies. The underlying idea behind the keyword XRM is not new. The trend, however, is driven by the growing need on the market to comprehensively map and manage the company’s relationships. And unlike other software trends, there is a lot of evidence that IT-supported XRM – used correctly and in the right dose – will evolve into a sustainable business strategy.

The article has been published in it & production, the leading trade magazine for successful production.

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