Best practice in PRM: key factors revealed
Executives from companies across the manufacturing, financial services, telecommunications, computer hardware and software industries united to discuss best practices in deploying partner relationship management (PRM) software, at the Customer Summit 2002 held by US-based Allegis Corporation.
The best practices discussed focused on three major themes: demonstrable return on investment (ROI), deploying global partner relationship management (PRM) solutions, and improving the software vendor selection process. Having focused objectives and delivering measurable ROI were the keys to long-term success for many of the companies present.
Another key conference discussion topic was deploying PRM solutions globally. Many companies are extending those solutions across international borders, as well as creating standalone deployments in foreign countries. One such example is Microsoft, which has recently deployed PRM solutions in France and Germany.
The other major theme of the summit was the importance of rigorous vendor selection. Several companies reported difficulties with PRM vendors that were not able to deploy a solution as promised, forcing them to abandon their projects mid-way. As a result of the discussions, some general criteria for choosing a PRM vendor included:
- Packaged software product: The functionality that a customer needs from a PRM solution should be offered in a packaged, pre-built and configurable suite of business applications that are based on an established software platform. This should allow for fast deployment and relatively easy integration with legacy systems such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) systems.
- Reference customers: Whichever vendor you choose should have a good range of reference customers, showing demonstrable success measured in terms of customer satisfaction, as well as 'hard' and 'soft' ROI.
- Domain expertise: Don't simply look for a software tool with specific features but rather for the expertise that lets you improve your business strategies. The PRM vendor should have 'domain knowledge' as a result of working with its customers across many industry segments.
- Technology innovation. The vendor should be able to provide reliable, scalable and secure technology - ideally built on a 'thin client' (web browser based) platform. Vendors should also be able to demonstrate a history of innovation and provide a 'product roadmap' for the future that aligns with your organisation's objectives.