Wagonwheel Business: CRM Systems As Hub and Spoke
If you’re with a mid-sized company, and chances are that the majority reading this are, you’re likely familiar with at least some of the CRM tools available to the mid-market today. According to a 2012 Buyerzone study, 56% of businesses that market to other businesses use CRM software of some kind. Dynamics applications, like Dynamics CRM, are becoming the products of choice for the mid-market. They’re well-suited for companies that have outgrown QuickBooks and other solutions geared to small businesses. The larger, more comprehensive packages such as SAP or Oracle might not make sense for mid-market companies or subsidiaries, and can increase costs while providing no additional value. These programs can be needlessly complex, resulting in confusion and convoluted implementation practices.
Recently, I spoke with Andrew Snook, president of Fastpath Solutions, a business that provides auditing software for Microsoft Dynamics users. His company implements programs across a variety of industries, and so he is in a unique position to offer insight into some trends that are taking place within larger companies. One of the more interesting topics that came up is the application of software systems to companies arranged in a “hub and spoke” system.
“Hub and spoke” refers to a means of organizing a business with numerous subsidiaries, which may be fairly diverse in their roles, and are often divided both geographically and managerially from the corporate headquarters. Those subsidiaries often work with some degree of autonomy, and may be accustomed to doing things their own way.
However, when it comes to making decisions about software infrastructure, particularly CRM systems, it makes sense to approach the problem with some manner of uniformity. According to a 2010 Forrester Research Study titled, “It’s Time To Clarify Your Global ERP Strategy,” findings suggest that companies typically use one of three approaches to organize software for their hub and spoke organizations: either they are all using the same programs, or the hub uses one program while the spokes use a different (though uniform) system, or the hub and spokes all use a different system.Continued on the next page