With the economy still in a slump, businesses strive to find ways to “do more with less,” mainly to improve customer satisfaction and enhance the customer-relationship experience. Software integration is becoming a trend, where companies take two or more applications and bring them together to improve office efficiencies and response time to their customers. Industries providing customer service, such as legal, financial and health care, deal with so much paper that finding better ways to manage this information has become essential to basic daily operations and survival. Many of these industries must also meet regulatory requirements, so finding a solution to avoid the possibility of facing jail time is also a necessity.
As business processes evolve, so must the software applications you use. Integrating the right types of software will help your business grow by allowing you to improve the customer experience, enhance customer loyalty and recognize a more productive and happy staff. Efficient business operations equal efficient customer service. Two logical integrated software applications are CRM and document management.
It’s important to evaluate the workload of your customer-service department or accounting department and determine how much time and management is necessary to keep all operations running smoothly. If you are already using a CRM system, you are aware of the operational benefits of using technology to aid help your company become more efficient. You want a CRM application that knows your industry – one that offers simple customization, pain-free implementation and a wide range of features that includes the ability to help manage contacts, schedules, quotes, sales, service orders, contracts, technicians, inventory, projects and more.
For those that aren’t using CRM technology in day-to-day business processes, it’s much easier to implement this type of application than most businesses realize. The same is true for document management.
Integrating CRM with document-management software applications offers an intuitive, secure and affordable filing approach that connects the paperless office and document workflow with front- and back-office service automation that scales with business growth. CRM enables companies across a wide spectrum of industries to better track customers, streamline sales, improve marketing, optimize service, better control inventory and more. Integrating document management will allow you to effortlessly move between both applications to eliminate costly and time-consuming manual paper-based processes. The two applications should work seamlessly together and bring business-service automation together with centrally managed and instantly accessible documents.
Some of the benefits with CRM and document-management software integration include:
• It maximizes the effectiveness of existing applications.
• Access to documents without flipping between applications.
• Efficiency – consistent filing structure accelerates filing and retrieving documents.
• Organization – easy access to client information all in one place, share information without duplication.
• Workflow – automate the flow of documents through everyday tasks.
• ROI – control labor expenses, minimize filing cabinet and associated paper consumable costs, reclaim valuable floor space and company real estate.
• Unites multiple departments and associated applications to a common central repository (i.e. sales, manufacturing, human resources, etc.)
What Type of Integrations Will Work For Me?
It is important to evaluate which types of software applications will be best suited to fit your business processes. If you are already using a CRM or document-management application, contact your vendor and find out which other companies it might be partnering with. Chances are, you’ll find another vendor that offers another type of software that will easily integrate with your existing applications vs. taking a chance with a company with which you might not have a familiar tie.
Another option is to go to a value-added reseller (VAR). Most VARs add features to an existing product and then resell them as an integrated product. They tend to be the most familiar with which types of solutions are best suited for certain integrations. By partnering with different vendors, they are able to help decide which solution is the best fit for each unique business environment. Many times, the VAR is also using the products internally as well as making a sale with these types of products.
Help Systems Services, a Nebraska-based IT support company, is using both CRM and document management in its day-to-day business processes.
Michael Tederman, sales manager, stated, “We provide IT support for small to medium-sized businesses that typically don’t have their own IT department. An important part of our job is to help them understand and decide what they need from a technical standpoint, based on what their business is and what they want to accomplish. We not only use a CRM solution integrated with document management in our own business, but also highly recommend it to our customers.”
When deciding on the types of software to integrate, companies should carefully consider their options. Ask yourself: What information do I need to leave my desk to access? If it’s not at your fingertips, it needs to be integrated. Paper files are often not where you need them when you need them. Putting documents into the right central document-management repository will enable a company to immediately access documents when needed, plus it can apply business-process workflows while enforcing access rights and retention policies to meet regulations.
Pick a company that understands the benefits of integration and offers options that deliver a scalable level of integration. Ranges should include:
• Built-in support for Windows features such as drag-and-drop, print, etc.
• End-user-implemented global integration plug-ins.
• Product application program interface (API) that enables customers to develop their own custom tailored integration.
By integrating software applications such as CRM and document management, you are accelerating business processes across an entire organization. By enhancing your current offerings, you ultimately provide the best value to the customer. Nearly all business processes have some sort of documents associated with them, with most technologies processing structured data. Integrating a CRM/document management system allows you to use unstructured data at the same time, but without using paper. Other integrations should also be considered (i.e. accounting, ERP, etc.), but the impact a CRM/document-management combo delivers is a tasty low-hanging fruit.
James True & Ginger Clay