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Effective customer management DOES NOT occur inside of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, even when accompanied by a well-developed strategy. CRM tools are powerful “front office” applications that enable sales, marketing and customer service professionals to effectively collaborate and gain insight all in the name of building a better customer experience. Customer management, however, is not merely a “front office” activity. You can not manage a complex customer relationship without timely involvement from Finance, Legal, Supply Chain and others in the “back office” that do not and will not have a CRM application on their desktop.

Effective business operation DOES NOT occur inside of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. ERP tools are powerful “back office” applications that enable finance and manufacturing professionals to effectively collaborate and gain insight into the operation of the business. Operational effectiveness, however, is not simply a “back office” activity. You can not effectively forecast without input from Sales and Marketing in the “front office” that do not and will not have an ERP application on their desktop.

Effective management of the supply chain DOES NOT occur inside of Supply Chain Management (SCM) software. SCM tools are powerful “back office” applications that enable supply chain professionals to effectively collaborate and gain insight into the demand chain. Demand planning, however, is not purely a “back office” duty. You can not effectively manage the supply chain without timely input from Sales, Marketing and Vendors (raw material suppliers) who do not and will not have an SCM application on their desktop.

Processes like deal management, forecasting and demand planning (just to name a few) may be triggered inside of an enterprise application, but they require an orchestrated effort between the “front office” and the “back office” to be performed properly. So, how do you get everyone to effectively participate in an enterprise-wide process that needs to without sacrificing control & visibility? The answer lies in a profound business case for joining business process management (BPM) technology with enterprise applications.

Before presenting the business case, let’s first level set on what BPM is; and just as important, what BPM is not. BPM is the definition, execution and management of business processes. BPM is not a synonym for Workflow (which is process management around a document) or EAI (which is process management around data integration). BPM brings the best of Workflow and EAI with the added “out of the box” capability of folding human worker activity into an end-to-end enterprise process. BPM’s emphasis on the process itself rather than an entity (i.e. document, data or person), gives process owners the ability to define what the process should be first and then determine how to effectively-orchestrate interactions between the people, data and documents that make up the steps within a process. Lastly and most relevant to this article, BPM is not married to a specific application (like embedded Workflow). This allows BPM to facilitate a myriad of business processes that span both people and disparate systems across the enterprise, including those that impact effective customer management, operational integrity and supply chain management.


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