Top 10 best practices for PRM CRM Integration


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The desire to integrate Partner Relationship Management (PRM) with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is increasingly popular with companies looking to streamline operations gain the ability manage complex channel programs, like MDF, rewards and rebates. This whitepaper shares 10 best practices to help guide your CRM/PRM integration.

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Top 10 best practices for PRM CRM Integration

  1. 1. Whitepaper PRM/CRM Integration 10 best practices for prm/crm integration The desire to integrate Partner Relationship Management (PRM) systems in with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is contents: increasingly popular within the channel as companies continue to PRM Design......................................3 streamline operations. In this whitepaper we highlight 10 best PRM Build.........................................4 practices for ensuring that your PRM/CRM integration project goes The “Easy Path”................................6 . as smoothly as possible so that you can avoid some common pitfalls Summary. .........................................7 . that result in wasted time and money. We would like to start by ensuring that we have a shared understanding of both systems so these are the definitions we use for CRM and PRM: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy for marketers to manage all interactions with customers and prospects. Partner Relationship Management (PRM) is a business strategy for improving communication and collaboration between companies and their channel partners. While CRM and PRM share some functionality, there are unique programs and interactions that occur in PRM and this can result in some challenges (see Figure 1). The benefits of integrating these two systems are generally pretty obvious and include: ¡ ­ A common system of record for partner and customer information ¡ ­ A common communication platform ¡ ­ Shared reporting tools for both direct and indirect channels that provide a 360 degree view of sales and marketing activity ¡ ­ A single, easy-to-use system for internal stakeholders ¡ ­ A single, streamlined systems environment to maintain ¡ ­ An easily scalable (up or down) solution ¡ ­ A single source of “truth” for understanding your direct and indirect routes to
  2. 2. The many benefits sometimes lure companies into integration efforts without fully considering the potential risks. Integration efforts sometimes result in attempts to force-fit legacy systems into CRM (think of the old square peg in a round hole example). Additionally, it can be challenging trying to create new PRM-type programs and applications on a CRM platform that wasn’t designed to support those applications resulting in a cobbled-together system that may not be quite as up to the task as your old point-based program was. Another challenge is ensuring that an integrated system will have the flexibility to adapt to regional or future needs. Finally, when undergoing a CRM/PRM integration, it is essential to understand the system impact of adding external application to the environment. CRM PRM (on CRM) Core Functions ¡ ­ Sales Management ¡ Partner Database ¡ ­ Customer Database ¡ ­ Partner Support ¡ ­ Customer Service ¡ ­ Channel Reporting ¡ ­ Collateral Management ¡ ­ Channel Comm Management ¡ ­ Reporting ¡ ­ Campaign Management Extended ¡ ­ Channel Sales Management Functions ¡ ­ Partner Profile Management ¡ ­ Partner Program Framework Unique ¡ Partner Portal Applications ¡ ­ Channel Content Management ¡ ­ Training ¡ ­ Certification Management ¡ ­ Marketing Fund Management ¡ ­ Joint Marketing ¡ ­ Rebates and Incentives Figure 1. CRM and PRM Functionality So how do you avoid spending unnecessary money or time when integrating your PRM and CRM systems? Ten best practices should help you with planning and implementation. We feel these can be characterized within three groupings: PRM design, PRM build, and “The Easy Path.” Let’s start with five best practices for PRM design. In many ways PRM is substantially more challenging – you need to be able to extend essentially internal capabilities to thousands of independent partners worldwide and because of the large numbers of partners, you have to do it largely through self-service through your partner portal. And also, you have to think about authentication when you think about your partners, password protection and access control so you deliver the right content to the right partner. Also, you have the global factor to consider – partners operate differently from region to region. All the channel program elements – MDF, etc. are unique to the channel – so they present a unique set of challenges.2
  3. 3. PRM DesignBest Practice 1: Field the Right TeamThere is no doubt about it – a PRM/CRM integration is a complex project. If you have theright team in place from the beginning, you’ll avoid many missteps along the way. The“right team” includes: ¡ ­ Key stakeholders (such as Worldwide Channel Marketing, Regional Channel Marketing and Channel Sales) ¡ ­ A PRM owner who is accountable for results (this should be owned by Channel Ops, Channel Marketing or Channel Sales – not IT) ¡ ­ A Solution Architect who understands channel marketing and PRM as well as the CRM platform technology (this is a difficult skillset so the resource can be internal or external) ¡ ­ A Project Manager ¡ ­ A dedicated technology teamAs with any large project, securing C-level sponsorship as early in the process as possiblewill help smooth the process.Best Practice 2: Know Your Channel RequirementsThe ultimate goal of your PRM/CRM integration is to support business processes andobjectives. This means your integration team needs to understand more than technicalconsiderations; they also need to understand the channel program vision – from theperspective of channel marketing. That vision for the channel program needs to betranslated into business requirements for the technology team. If IT and Business are onthe same page before the technology team starts to build, you will avoid costly delayslater in the process.Best Practice 3: Keep it Simple!The desired end result is an integrated environment that is as simple as possible, featuringa single version of the “truth” in data. This means one system of record defined for core “Make everything asPartner Data. Achieving a streamlined environment means that your technology team will simple as possible;need to minimize system integration points. Think of each integration point as a link in achain. Since a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, the more integration points that but not simpler.”you have, the more complexity and potential for problems you introduce: more exceptions —Albert Einsteinand quality issues, higher maintenance costs and future changes become increasinglydifficult because of system dependencies.Best Practice 4: Build Your RoadmapA roadmap helps you plan your integration from your current state environment to yourdesired future state environment. One to three years is a reasonable time period for aPRM/CRM integration. Building a roadmap means that you assess your current state,plan your future state, and then identify the gaps between the two to build a set a 3
  4. 4. that becomes your PRM roadmap. The roadmap will identify dependencies, but should also ensure that there are some early “quick wins” prioritized to demonstrate progress for all stakeholders as the project continues. Current State Future State GAP PRM PRM PRM Analysis Roadmap Best Practice 5: Understand Technology Choices While CRM platforms provide many of the capabilities necessary for PRM, but because there are differences between PRM and CRM, you will need to make some choices along the way for PRM requirements. You have four options for technology choices: (1) out-of- the-box, (2) configure or extend, (3) build, or (4) buy. Out-of-the-box options come with CRM and can easily be used for your PRM needs. Other functions can be configured or extended from your CRM to meet PRM needs. The real challenge is for the channel program components – like MDF, rewards, and rebates – that are unique to PRM. You can build these or buy them. A useful metaphor is to think of a kitchen remodeling project. For an item like cabinets, you may choose to build cabinets or buy them ready-made depending on the characteristics of your kitchen and/or your skill level at carpentry. Other choices in a kitchen model are more obvious – you wouldn’t really want to build your own refrigerator (although we’ll grant you that you might….but would it be as cost effective as buying one?). Those unique channel program components are like the kitchen cabinets and appliances: some companies may choose to build their own, but it is also possible to buy programs that are already designed to integrate with your CRM environment. Weighing the effort and cost of each option should help you determine which option will work best in your case. PRM Build Now that you’ve designed your PRM system, it’s time to build your PRM infrastructure. The Partner Data Partner Portal building blocks for your PRM infrastructure include (1) partner database, (2) your partner portal and (3) your integration framework. Partner data gives you an accurate, current and complete profile for each partner including sales data (POS), programs data, campaign Integration Framework data and support data. Your partner portal is your interface with your partner community to deliver relevant content and resources based on each partner’s profile. The integration framework allows you to “plug in” tools and services from various providers (both internal and external) and do so in a way that is seamless to partner users, does not create islands Program Tools of data and does not create unique integration points. Let’s look at three best practices to help you in your PRM build.4
  5. 5. Best Practice 6: Build a 360 Degree View of Partner DataYour CRM should be extended so that it supports a complete view of your partnerdata with just a single data record for each partner. There are a number of elementsthat need to come together and there are many variations on this as well depending onvendor needs. Building the 360 degree view of your partner data can be achieved with acombination of technology choices (out-of-the-box, configure- extend, build, buy).The data to be integrated includes: ¡ ­ Profiles – accounts and contacts, hierarchy information for contacts and organizations, and global tiering and segmentation model (GTSM) – core attributes across your full PRM environment to manage eligibility and entitlements that helps Profiles control access to content and tools ¡ ­ POS – including summary metrics and needed granularity Opportunities POS ¡ ­ Certifications – by contact and company ¡ ­ Programs – describe every program you have and the intersection between Partner programs and partners to manage program eligibility and enrollment, participation data model and performance; this sets you up to be able to conduct program analytics to understand which programs work for which kinds of partners Support Certifications ¡ ­ Support – for example, attaching cases to accounts ¡ ­ Opportunities – leads and opportunities ProgramsBest Practice 7: Profile-Enable Your Partner PortalIt is essential that your partner portal differentiate you from your competitors. It needs toenhance your brand and deliver content to partners based on their company profile and Out of Boxuser preferences. Partners have less time than ever to wade through pages of irrelevant Configureinformation, but they do enjoy targeted, relevant information in an engaging environment Extendthat is easy to use.Your partner portal should present a seamless, consistent experience globally withregional flexibility to deliver local content. The user experience should feature a simple,clean design that enables partners to find what they need, when they need it; it shouldnever take more than three clicks to get to necessary information. A best-in-class partnerportal is profile-driven with role-based security to provide the kind of fine-grained controlvendors need over access to partner program resources.Best Practice 8: Apply a Standards-Based Integration FrameworkAn integration framework based on standards eliminates costly custom integrations foreach application you want to connect to your environment and is easier to maintain andchange over time. A standards method includes a standard method for single sign-on(SSO) and a standard profile service to share core profile data with affiliated applicationsand 5
  6. 6. With a standards-based integration framework you have the flexibility to choose best-in- class channel programs and change out programs when you need to without disrupting your infrastructure and channel program. Essentially, a standards-based integration framework gives you “plug and play” technical capabilities. This is the perfect segue to our final two best practices on how to “make it easy” (or as easy as it can be for a large project like your PRM-CRM integration). The “Easy Path” These final two best practices can make the arduous task of integrating your PRM and CRM systems much easier and more cost effective. While many vendors have the internal resources to tackle the integration process, you may find that utilizing these best practices will help you avoid many common pitfalls in the complex process of PRM/CRM integration. Best Practice 9: Harness Plug-and-Play Channel Tools and Programs Can you build your own channel tools and programs like MDF or Rewards? Sure. But this is where that kitchen remodeling metaphor comes in. You can build a refrigerator or you can buy one – which is most cost effective? Plug-and-play solutions offer multiple advantages over the build-your-own approach: ¡ ­ Time and cost effective ¡ ­ Built-in global capabilities ¡ ­ Proven functionality including payment facilitattion and built-in financial controls ¡ ­ Designed to manage complex channel programs Proven plug-and-play solutions (like hawkeye’s channelConduit) integrate well with CRM solutions like Salesforce, the most popular CRM platform for the technology industry. Additionally, no PRM license is required which further enhances the cost effectiveness. Be sure to select plug-and-play solutions that integrate with reporting capabilities already present in your CRM system.6
  7. 7. Portal Partner Portal Channel Content External Apps Campaign Rebates & CRM Extensions Integration Mgmt Incentives Sales Profile Framework Mgmt Mgmt Joint Fund SSO Profile Marketing Mgmt Program Framework Train & Certify Partner DB CRM Partner Reporting Out of Box Support Configure Extend Build/BuyBest Practice 10: Invest in ExpertiseInvesting in a consultant who understands both channel and technology needs can helpyou move more quickly through both the PRM Design and PRM Build processes. Anexperienced consultant can help you devise a clear channel PRM technology roadmap,identify a PRM infrastructure solution for your CRM environment and ensure that yourchannel program infrastructure and tools is efficiently integrated with your CRM system.SummaryIf you’re reading this whitepaper, you know that integrating your PRM system with yourCRM system is a significant project. The rewards are many, but avoiding expensive pitfallsrequires extensive planning before you even begin the process of integration. The bestpractices outlined in this paper identify best-in-class PRM Design steps from building theright team through developing your roadmap and understanding technology choices. ThePRM Build best practices provide guidelines for building a 360 degree view of partnerdata that gives you significant insight into your partner program and via a profile-enabledportal, provides your partners with a seamless, relevant experience. A standards-basedintegration framework sets the stage for utilizing plug-and-play channel tools and programsthat enable you to choose from easy-to-use available best-in-class programs. Finally,engaging an experienced consultant can help you maximize your investment in theintegration 7
  8. 8. global companies with indirectsales and channel partners relyon hawkeye Channel to increasetheir channel ROIcontact us about hawkeye ChannelContact us today to discover how we can hawkeye Channel, a leading global channel company, packages channel intelligencehelp you get the maximum return on your and cloud technologies into smart solutions that are proven to elevate your channelchannel investment. and maximize every investment. The largest technology companies in the world entrust hawkeye Channel to engage, empower and motivate their gives no warranty or representation as to the accuracy, North America EMEA APAC LATAMcompleteness or legality of the advice contained in this paper, Centerpoint, 1st Floor 3 Temasek Avenue 2332 Galiano St.and any warranties implied by law are hereby expressly excluded tothe fullest extent permissible. Cascade East Otterman House 21-00 Centennial Tower 2nd Floor© 2012 hawkeye, all rights reserved. 20819 72nd Ave S. 12 Petersham Road Singapore 039190 Coral Gables, Suite 725 Richmond-upon-Thames +65 6549-7498 FL 33134 Kent, WA 98032 Surrey TW10 6UW +1 305 728 7054 +1 800 981 9154 +44 208 614 9593