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What Is Enterprise Relationship Management?

Enterprise Relationship Management is More than CRM

Enterprise relationship management (ERM) software is a term that has encompassed many, many meanings over the past several years. Some consider enterprise relationship management to be an extension of customer relationship management (CRM), in which client data is collected from non customer-facing departments, such as manufacturing and finance; combined with sales, marketing, and service information; then used to monitor and analyze customer relationships.

But that definition may be way too narrow. While CRM focuses solely on existing and potential customers, enterprise relationship management is about enhancing all of the important business relationships a company maintains.

Additionally, CRM provides information only from the perspective of the company itself. True ERM requires a multi-faceted view of all relationships – assessing their strength and lifetime value from the perspective of both internal and external sources – as well as effective bi-directional communication, collaboration, and information sharing.

So, perhaps the most common – and thorough – definition of an enterprise relationship management package is a technology solution that enables businesses to achieve a more holistic, global view of all their important and complex relationships.

With enterprise relationship management, a company can access, analyze, and share information about all of their employees, suppliers, and strategic business partners, as well as their customers. It has all the tools it needs to identify and assess the factors that impact these relationships, and put the needed best practices and processes in place to maximize their contribution to the bottom line.

The concept of enterprise relationship management is built on the belief that personal interactions – not automated transactions – are what create the kind of business relationships that add true value. And, this value may not be immediate. In many cases, it accumulates over time as relationships grow and strengthen.

So, what can an enterprise relationship management solution really do? With an ERM strategy and related technologies in place, a business can:

  • Identify and leverage its greatest relationship assets, such as its reputation, or those employees who have strong individual connections with key clients or external business partners.
  • Gain a greater understanding of its customers, far beyond the typical sales, marketing, and support information contained in a CRM system. With enterprise relationship management, a company can uncover how clients actually use a particular product or service, what their preferred payment and delivery methods are, and more.
  • Uncover vital trends in employee behaviors, and learn more about the factors that positively and negatively influence productivity, satisfaction, and loyalty.
  • Improve the flow of critical information between suppliers, resellers, and other business partners, and enable them to more actively participate in the business process by giving them a complete and timely view of all their interactions with the company.

Many businesses also use enterprise relationship management solutions to closely monitor competitive activity. Customers, partners, and even employees can provide a wealth of valuable information about other vendors.

Enterprise relationship management applications make it easier to capture, store, and analyze that vital data, and use it to create more successful business plans and strategies.