Critical Success Factors Influencing the Degree of Alignment Between a Business Process and a CRM System : A Case Study of an IT Company

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Handelshögskolan (from 2013)

Abstract: The need for information in real time and the technology development has become more fast and more efficient. Companies today need to be more responsive to their customers to stay on top. Also, companies’ business processes need effective support from information technology solutions. The fit, or alignment, between the business process and the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system design is crucial in order to leverage efforts within marketing and sales. If there is a misfit, companies do not take full advantage of the potential that CRM systems can leverage in terms of better managing relationships with customers, which in turn may result in higher rates of closed deals. The main purpose of this bachelor thesis in Information Systems is to identify and describe critical success factors influencing on the degree of alignment between a business process and a CRM system from an organisational perspective. The sub-purpose is to identify and describe the influence of process−system alignment on performance. The IT company Apica has been used as the case study company in the bachelor thesis. Apica is suitable for this study since it has already adopted a CRM system related to its sales process. A research literature-based analysis model was developed in order to be able to more precisely investigate the chosen purpose. The intention is to review critical success factors that influence the success of the process−system alignment. In the chosen qualitative approach, a semi-structured interview guide was developed, based on the analysis model. Five interviews with co-workers in the case study company were conducted. The analysis of the collected primary empirical data has led to the following conclusions. A high degree of process−system alignment concerning a well-defined and functional business process in relation to a CRM system has a positive influence on the company’s sales process performance. A higher degree of process−system alignment can improve the company’s process performance, increase the sales force productivity and lead to better decision making. According to the findings, the positive outcome of a process−system alignment depends mainly on three factors: management commitment, data management, and system integrations. The empirical results also suggests a new finding: A successfully aligned sales process with the CRM system also lead to knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing contributes to that salespeople learn from deals made in the past. The historical data help salespeople in managing customer relationships, which may lead to shorter sales cycles and larger deal sizes, which implies increased sales. 

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