by Michele Nachum
Published on 22 June 2012
So, when I get a chance to review a product that is all about helping a company streamline processes and communications in order to enhance their business - well it makes me wonder if I should pay more attention to "process."
Never-the-less, I am a great admirer of solutions like BPMonline - which actually takes the CRM concept to another level. When I first got this assignment I was a bit confused about what made BPMonline tick.
However, after exploring the cloud-based product, I noticed it appeared more robust than other CRM products and was thrilled when account manager at BPMonline, Helen Iron, took me through the product and explained what the solution is all about.
BPMonline is a robust product that takes the fundamentals of BPM (business process management) and CRM (customer relationship manager) and rolls it into one product that is relatively easy to use (once you get the hang of it) and provides users with a number of tools to organize and streamline basically every aspect of their business.
BPMonline helps business capture important information like client contact information, meeting notes, calendar meetings and such, but also allows companies to illustrate and map out the processes as it relates to selling, incident management, time management and other important functions.
Every company runs itself differently depending on size, industry, etc. As such, BPMonline has its basic solution which can fit any industry as well as vertical and customized versions tools to help such industries as Real Estate, Service Desk, Legal, Insurance, Banking, Call Centers and more. Developers can also customize the solution and for those without an IT department and need a little extra help to make BPMonline more applicable to their company, can contact the BPMonline team for help.
BPMonline has its online version where all information is saved in the cloud. However, for government and financial institutions which need a higher level of security (note: the cloud is secure but some industries do demand that all data is stored in on-premise servers), it does have on-premise solutions as well which are equal to on-demand in functionality.
CRM solutions are great as they track your client information in a way that allows you to use it in multiple instances from mass mailings, suveys to marketing campaigns. But if you are a company that launches new products, or has a series of contracts that customers need to sign and legal to peruse, you also need processes (for that matter, every business needs processes). And in a simple nutshell that is what BPMonline does. It allows you to harbor all of your contacts and capture important client and customer information, but also provides you with the tools to guide to your employees and teams by allowing you to create visual charts that can explain various company functions.
What's more, it is not only a visual chart, this is a visual representation of your business process and a mechanism that automates daily routines by tasks creation according to triggers and business logic. Once an event or data in the system matches a process condition like a miracle new action offered to a user.
Helen at BPMonline made a good point. Many enterprise-level companies already have processes in-tact - they have to by necessity (not that those processes can't be improved once in a while) but many smaller businesses are in need of ways to manage their work flow and streamline the way the work should be done. Take a company that had two or three people running it. Everyone did everything and you worked well together and there were no real rules. But then the business grew and in the next few years the business has ten employees and then 50. Great, huh? Well scary too as many of these businesses are in need of direction. A solution like BPMonline can help turn the start-up into a well-oiled machine where everyone knows what to do and how to do it.
That said, larger companies can also use BPMonline as the solution is easily scalable.
The question here, is BPMonline a good solution? In many ways, yes. It forces a company to streamline how they capture client and contact data into one place as well as helps a business develop processes for sharing out information, gaining approvals with colleagues and clients, managing issues and much more. We are in an age of amazing innovation and where companies are growing quickly, but so often information is not well communicated and I don't know about you - but I have had many been in many jobs where I had no idea what to do, who to go to, etc. And, that is the beauty of this solution.
BPMonline is a robust solution with many CRM and BPM tools to help manage and store information and develop processes to help your employees do their jobs. Here are a few key tools:
CRM - Overall I found using the CRM features to be rather user-friendly and once you understand all that the solution has and what your business needs, you should find it easy to maneuver. The hard part is going through the solution to figure out what to use and what makes sense for your business. That is where a session or two with a BPMonline representative will help. BPMonline has a terrific Help section. But again, if you don't have time to go through it all, definitely seek a demo from BPMonline. I found their account representatives to be knowledgeable and friendly.
Customer Data Management - This is the basic heart of any good CRM solution as it allows you to collect and store your client information. BPMonline allows you to pull your contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media products to help you populate your database in BPMonline. Not only can you input contact information but you can store meeting histories, documents and other helpful pieces of information that anyone from your company can peruse.
Sales Management - BPMonline allows you to store and standardize your sales information in many different ways including differentiating and segmenting out your customers as well as managing your sales team with a pipeline so you always know where in the sales process you are with any customer. By having all this information captured online you expand your opportunities for cross selling, as your colleagues will see your activities (and vice versa) and therefore ideas can be shared. Sales managers can use the BPM features (see below) to create visual representations of the sales process and the pipeline. On your BPMonline dashboard you will have a good snapshot of revenues, invoices, outstanding calls and other information to keep your sales team on track.
Other CRM Features:
BPMonline has a number of nifty CRM features including Campaign Management where you can measure the results of a marketing campaign. The solution allows you to plan and launch the campaign within the system and then pull analytics that are segmented by audience and revenue and more.
For those businessess that want to track "incidents" or issues within the company, BPMonline helps you with a tool called Incidents Management. For example, you can record an unhappy customer incident or even a technological malfunction into the system and then record how well the "incident" was managed. BPMonline has analytical features in Incidents Management to measure employee responsiveness and prowess.
Other features include Time Management to help both managers and employees better schedule their time and plan their day/weeks, etc. A really good point is that you can synchronize Calendars in BPMonline, Google and MS Outlook. Document Management helps you create a e-library of sorts to store important documents and approve documents online for better version control.
The BPM tools is where BPMonline becomes more than your standard-issue CRM solution. BPM tools help you to create processes. You can use the BPM features to "automate the CRM process" and illustrate "cross sales," or "customer life cycle management" and even "incident management." These are visual representations of "what if this or this happens" and then "what to do if it does" sort of charts.
Creating the processes charts took a bit of practice (it is user-friendly to a point) but here is the thing; One, you need to figure out what you kinds charts you need or want (BPMonline does provide some clues and data on what these can look like) and secondly, there are many tools in the "BPM" features so it will take some time (a few hours for those of us less technically inclined) to understand how to use the BPM tools.
But once you've created a process what you need is just to click Start process or make 'starting action' within BPMonline CRM and system will do your job mostly instead of you. Your people should concentrate on their job only completing 'Lead card' or making 'First call' or 'Follow up call' and put the task results into the system. And system will advise the next best action.
There are many editing features within the BPM tools and for developers there are ways to customize the solution to better fit your business. Editing tools allow you to create messages, sub-processes and much more. You can add in data, scripts, documents and more that your employees can read at each process.
Overall, I think this is a very good product. User-friendly - yes but ONLY after you have taken the time to go through the system to understand all of its features and how to use them. You can certainly teach yourself and if you are familiar with the concepts of CRM and BPM it won't be too hard. Those of us not familiar will have a harder time.
There is a LOT to BPMonline - its creators have done a fine job taking nearly every scenario possible and creating a way to capture the data where in a visual chart or in a more traditional database. Upshot - excellent solution but not something you can learn in 30 minutes or less.
Pricing begins at $29 per month per user. Arguably that is within market prices and fairly affordable. My advice is to start slow and give it a shot before adding on additional users. Also, BPMonline offers customized solutions for such industries as legal, real estate and others. Those solutions are more expensive.
Helen told me they have users with one employee as well as enterprise-sized clients with hundreds or thousands of employees. I personally do not believe this is good for a one-person shop given how robust the solution is - but I do believe if you are an organization that is service-based and therefore many customers/clients and processes that must be followed, BPMonline is a good solution. I do feel smaller companies might find the feature set a bit overwhelming, but Helen swears that her smaller business clients are happy with the solution. So maybe size does not necessarily matter?
Ratings: ease of use 4/5, features 5/5, value 5/5 and ease of deployment 4/5