Ten Reasons to Combine CRM and BPM

Jennifer Schiff

Updated · Nov 22, 2011

Most, if not all, mid-to-large organizations have some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system. Many of these same companies also have or are considering business process management (BPM) software, typically to improve the customer service experience. But do you really need both a CRM system and a BPM system? An increasing number of analysts, customer service experts and business managers are saying “yes” if you truly want to deliver great customer service, improve efficiency and increase sales.

Following are 10 ways that combining CRM with BPM can benefit your organization.

Improve data aggregation. “CRM is typically utilized for account management and pipeline building processes – and does a poor job of aggregating data that is relevant outside the CRM solution,” said Chris Lewis, vice president of Operations at iDatix. “For instance, a user may want to access customer data from a CRM for reference purposes while they are evaluating their credit score.” By adding a BPM solution, you are now “able to access documentation surrounding their mortgage, locate banking centers and contact third parties,” giving you a better understanding of an individual’s credit worthiness.

Get better leads – and improve lead management. “CRM systems thrive on a healthy diet of imported leads and contacts,” said Glenn Johnson, senior vice president of marketing at Magic Software Enterprises. “Your BPM system's ability to orchestrate lead assignment and input from diverse sources will accelerate the sales and marketing process.”

Added Scott Herron, CEO of MaintenanceNet: “When sales professionals are armed with cleansed BPM data — ranging from complete customer contact information, to accurate service contract expiration details, to product refresh suggestions and even recommended replacement parts — they are in position to reach out to the right customer at the right time with the right sales pitch.” Moreover, “the higher the levels of data quality that your CRM system contains, the more effective it will be, and in this way BPM solutions can play a key role in CRM success.”

Maximize cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. By combining your CRM system with a BPM system, “cross-sell and up-sell can be streamlined based on business processes to enable optimal sales performance and results,” said Gabriel Gheorghiu, research analyst and consultant at

Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC). “BPM can intelligently provide rules for personalized offers and packages, taking into account the history of the customer, their profile, budget and any current marketing promotions.”

Improve customer representative efficiency and process resolution. By combining CRM and BPM, “agents are guided through issue resolution processes, ensuring a consistent service experience for a particular issue type,” said Kate Leggett, senior analyst at Forrester Research. In addition, a BPM system can push “information and knowledge … to agents at the right point in the resolution process,” she added. “This increases agent efficiency, and ultimately customer satisfaction.”

Understand account history. “When bills are due and accounts past due, the accounting team is quick to call a foul, but what if that $10,000 past due amount is for a customer that you are also selling a million-dollar deal too?” asked Namita Dhallan, executive vice president of product strategy and engineering at Deltek. “BPM can deliver information to the sales rep and the accounting team so the accounting team has the full history of the customer's account so they can make intelligent business decisions. Can you afford to wait on getting $10,000 when you stand to gain $1 million? Probably so.” 

Never miss a deadline – and, if you do, know why. “For those services companies that manage projects, or for those companies that ship physical goods to others, BPM can let the account people know if projects are on time and on budget, or whether a customer has received the important shipment that they needed,” said Dhallan. “BPM sets up alerts and notifications to trigger emails to critical market-facing team members, letting them know how their important customers are being treated.”

Get a better handle on your sales pipeline. “The process measures associated with business process management can serve to give a more forward look,” said Marvin Lebold, a partner with Visual Data Group. That's because by using BPM in conjunction with CRM, you can “see the number of new leads generated or the progress of new products in the pipeline” and better predict and manage growth.

Predict revenue more accurately. By combining CRM with BPM, “you can use the customer information and sale data to help with invoicing and accounting – and to “predict and track revenue better,” said Ravi Viswanath, general manager of the BPM Practice at Persistent Systems.

Maximize the ROI on your CRM investment. “CRM systems are simply an enabler to help you accomplish your business goals, not a magic bullet that automatically makes your company operate more effectively,” said Greg Lueck, managing partner at Centerstance. However, by combining CRM with BPM, he argued, you can better “understand what business goals you're trying to achieve with a CRM system; review your existing processes and highlight areas for improvement; and apply industry best practices to make your processes more efficient.”

Learn from your mistakes and accomplishments. “A key part of any CRM system is the metrics behind the deals that take place,” said Deltek's Dhallan. “Leveraging both BPM [business process management] and the other BPM [business performance management] can deliver management dashboards that outline customers that were won and lost, and show the profitability of individual customers, so companies can determine what types of customers should be pursued in the future. This allows companies to plan sales strategies and bid correctly and intelligently on new opportunities – and avoid those that are unprofitable.” 

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to Enterprise Apps Today and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping small and mid-sized businesses.

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