First it was CRM (Customer Relationship Management), then came PRM (Partner Relationship Management), ERM (Employee Relationship Management) and a host of other ?RM solutions. The problem was in most cases there were specific applications that met each type of requirement. While managing relationships was at the heart of each strategy, the nuances around each was such that no one application was flexible enough to meet all the functionality requirements. Microsoft Dynamics CRM seems to have finally met this challenge and quite often you will hear Microsoft refer to Microsoft CRM as a xRM platform.
So what exactly is meant by xRM and how is Microsoft CRM an xRM platform? The “x” in xRM is a placeholder for anything, so essentially xRM means the management of any type of relationship. This might be for example, the management of a company’s relationship with its employees. Now it can be argued that an HR system fills this function, but most often the HR system misses the subtleties of managing a relationship and more importantly it lacks the flexibility to be configured to meet the company’s ever changing strategies around this relationship. Microsoft CRM however has the core functionality to track manage the relationship aspect and the flexibility to be configured to meet changing Employee Relationship Strategies. Now I can feel the wrath of the HR Managers bearing down on me as they say “Karl are you honestly saying Microsoft CRM is an HR solution?” No absolutely not! What I am proposing is that Microsoft CRM together and integrated with (whether the integration is technical or strategic) an HR system can be used as a very effective Employee Relationship Management solution.
Before I annoy any more HR managers let me give another real world example of how I’ve seen Microsoft CRM used as an xRM platform. In this case it was a Private School. Their Student Management system very effectively allowed them to meet the day to day requirements of managing students. It managed timetables, financials, etc well but it couldn’t identify and track the inter relationships between the students. So for example I couldn’t easily tell that Jimmy’s brother was also at the school, nor that their father was a past alumni and Jimmy’s mum was a bit of a worry wart and emailed / called the school often. By integrating their existing Student Management System with Microsoft CRM, the school was able to effectively manage all aspects of their relationships with their students. Effectively a “S”RM solution :)
In both the above examples Microsoft CRM was configured to meet very different requirements. There was no mention of Accounts, Contacts and the term customer was completely removed. Sometime I do wish that Microsoft CRM was not called Microsoft CRM and rather it was renamed to be what it really is: The Microsoft RM platform. And how cool would it be if it was renamed the Microsoft Office RM platform :) One can always dream!