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Using CRM systems for more than your sales department

You can use CRM systems to manage processes in business units other than sales.

While CRM systems were initially designed for sales teams, other departments within a company can benefit from...

using CRM systems.

Moreover, companies like Salesforce and Microsoft have broadened customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities to encompass additional business functions and teams within a company. So it's important to think about every team in a company and who its constituents are. Even if a team has little interaction with external parties, they all have internal customers they work with and these operations can be improved through automation. Getting these multiple business units integrated with a CRM system can improve communication between departments while reducing costs for IT management of multiple systems.

CRM capabilities now encompass additional business functions and teams within a company.

Some of the departments where I have used CRM are marketing, HR and project management. Let's look at how these units and corresponding technologies might interact with a CRM.

Marketing

Marketing departments need to be able to use CRM data to reach out to existing customers and also prospect, or lead, data to nurture potential new customers. For marketing campaigns that involve scale and personalized messaging, CRM systems should be complemented with marketing automation (MA). Some large systems like Eloqua and Marketo were built outside a CRM, but often have plug-ins to a CRM system, enabling integration of information. These systems tend to be costlier because they have their own user interfaces that have been built from scratch. MA systems like Pardot and Silverpop, however, were built inside CRM architecture and often come at a reduced price and may take an afternoon to integrate.

Human resources

Human capital management and the various tasks required of human resources departments can benefit greatly from a CRM approach. Human resources teams can use CRM data to manage and track information about employees, potential hires and open positions. Human resources teams have to manage many moving parts. A certain position opening can prompt multiple emails and many steps to set salary, schedule interviews, get necessary approvals and track fulfillment.

To reduce the risk of missing steps and to get new candidates in the door as soon as possible, creating custom entities and objects within the CRM can solve many problems and streamline processes. From arranging interviews and sending emails to rejected candidates to establishing salary ranges and creating workflow rules for managers to push through position requests, all such tasks can be created in CRM and then centralize this information and series of processes. It is also a great idea to create a candidates section of CRM so you have a database of people and their skills and interview scores, should they fit other roles that appear in the future. Many free resources can be found online on how to create some of these entities and utilizing them with the security levels needed.

Project management

Project management teams use various tools, but those tools are often restricted to a project manager, not the entire team. What's more, information often requires manual entry of team accomplishments, and is thus not updated in real time. Instead, by using CRM systems, it is fairly simple to create objects that track milestones, budgets, time lines and so on, along with syncing events to Outlook Calendars of all team members. This can take place at the end of a week or month, project status reports can be run automatically, which can eliminate meetings to catch team members up face to face. In the Salesforce AppExchange, there is a Milestones PM free download that can be your foundation. Whether an admin builds from scratch or uses a pre-built application, CRM can greatly improve the project management across an organization.

Since you're spending the money on a CRM, think outside the box to address multiple business processes in multiple departments with your CRM system. This can save time and money -- by centralizing processes and information in one system.

Next Steps

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This was last published in April 2015

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Our company uses the CRM to support the sales, marketing and support teams. Our sales and support teams work together to address custom work such as research and database projects, and the CRM helps keep them on the same page. The marketing team pulls lead data from the CRM to determine how to best focus our message to different types of clients.
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