One of the problems of rapid success in business is that the trading situation often outpaces the ability of the back-office and admin functions to cope. The problems of success are of course preferable to the alternative, but too many telecoms entrepreneurs struggle on with inadequate back-office systems until they hit a crisis, sometimes threatening the whole future of a company.
A ‘make do and mend’ approach to back-office functions is also wasteful of time and resources. Entering the same data for separate CRM, accounts, service engineering and so on requires duplicate data entry which can lead to mistakes and conflicting records. The result can be that the service department goes ahead with an equipment installation, even though the accounts department has put the customer on the ‘stop’ list for non-payment.
When rapidly expanding businesses have an ‘out of control’ experience, there can be an overreaction. Business analyst consultancies are hired and top of the line ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems may be implemented at enormous cost, providing an ‘over-engineered’ solution for an SME business going through a growth spurt. It is a classic sledgehammer to crack a nut scenario. All too often, the implementation of such systems can take far longer and is more painful than expected and may never provide a reasonable ROI.
How Telecoms CRM Offers A Solution
Perhaps a more sensible approach is to take cost-effective ‘best of breed’ applications and integrate them into a coordinated whole where CRM generates a service call, which triggers customer billing and so on. For most resellers, the billing platform will usually be the core revenue generating software in the business, so it makes sense to structure an integrated back-office solution around the billing platform. An integrated solution can be much quicker, and less risky to implement and each element of the solution can be installed configured and tested independently. Each component part of the solution will also offer the best possible functionality for the application it is deployed to do. This approach can potentially reduce the time before CPs will enjoy the benefits and gain a real ROI.
An independent supplier of billing solutions can ensure that the CP has access to integrated back office solutions that link the billing platform with provisioning, telecoms CRM customer management and provides a tight fit with the company’s accounts package. This provides multiple benefits including a single point for data entry, reducing errors; up to date and synchronised data across all applications; and a reduced workload for administrative staff.
As an independent supplier ourselves of billing, WLR3 and back-office solutions for CPs, Union Street understands the ‘back-office’ challenge and can help our user community to offer services that rival and excel anything that their competitors may be able to offer.
For customer contact management, the Union Street aBILLity billing platform features out of the box integrations for Microsoft Dynamics CRM providing a bi-directional data exchange and synchronisation between applications. aBILLity also includes a tight integration with Sage accounts so that the invoices raised can be automatically posted into sales ledger, broken down by nominal account. aBILLity will create a direct debit collections file for the bank and post the payments back to the sales ledger. The accounts activity including payments received are then viewable within aBILLity. As part of the invoice run aBILLity will also create statements for dispatch.
Union Street’s APIs and web services make it possible for third party integrators to link aBILLity to most other applications. This type of integration provided by aBILLity eliminates both the time wasted re-entering data to an accounts package and the errors that can occur with manual data entry, improving customer service.
Some CPs have an unrealistic expectation of an ideal back-office telecoms CRM system that will do everything brilliantly but then end up with ‘Jack of All Trades’ result that is cumbersome and clunky. Instead, they should look at integrating back-office administrative functions so that they function efficiently as one. In this way, telecoms entrepreneurs can ensure that rapid growth is a positive and not a painful experience.
Authored by Gareth Pritchard, Marketing Manager for Union Street