In the past, professional services technology systems were closely tied to ERP systems, sometimes baked right in, sometimes as a third party product. The common practice was to utilize the ERP’s architecture, database and financial modules to create a full-featured financial project management system that could produce very granular financial metrics. I recently wrote about an evolution taking place whereby professional services technology applications can now work using CRM systems, and the advantages/disadvantages of doing professional services in ERP or CRM based technology.
To rehash, the genesis of these systems (CRM and ERP) is quite different. (One built for sales staff and one built for accounting staff), so the professional services technology built on top have some differences:
- Complexity of your reporting/costing requirements
- Nimbleness of your business
- Are you Client-Centric or Project-Centric
If you believe that a CRM based professional services system may be right for you, there are different choices there also. Here at KTL Solutions, we like several systems, and recently have implemented xRM1 for a few clients. This is because of the third bullet above, “nimbleness”.
xRM1’s nimbleness comes from the fact that the Microsoft xRM Framework (not to be confused with the xRM1 professionals services add-on product; yes, I know this is cumbersome), allows easier configuration of the core CRM system. This is due to the Microsoft xRM Framework that CRM is built upon, and is key to how CRM professional service technology is lower cost and quicker to market.
The Microsoft xRM Framework enables the efficient development/configuration of business software. The speed to market is, compared to traditional software development, 60-90% faster, and also much faster than ERP. This leap in efficiency is based on two fundamental concepts: first, that the platform allows developers to access basic functions as fully functional modules, such as the Authorization model and web enablement, and secondly, that the framework contains a modern development platform for quicker implementation of specific requirements.
So let’s get back to xRM1. xRM1 (and other professional services overlays on top of CRM) extend this platform (the Microsoft xRM Framework) to support other processes such as Project Management. This ability creates a truly nimble (easier to configure) professional services technology, compared to ERP or custom systems.
So, out-of-the-box, you get the traditional professional services modules (resources, projects, time, expense, invoicing) built on top of the CRM modules (sales, marketing, services) that all have very robust functionality that you can easily (read, less time and money) configure to your unique business processes. Since CRM is web-based, the old client server model is gone, and using standard client side scripting and native web services, again these systems can be easily integrated and customized.
As noted above, this framework extends to the xRM1 overlay, so that compared to ERP systems, CRM professional services technology is easier and less expensive to mold to your unique business processes. We at KTL Solutions have many, many years of experience implementing professional services technology (in ERP) and love the recent options of the CRM professional services solutions. If you need any additional help in defining what you do, or differences in these approaches, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.