The CIO’s Definitive Guide: Delivering
Results with CRM for Financial Services
How to keep your system integrity, budget, resources and sanity
intact through CRM.
Financial services is a tough, highly-competitive industry that faces
challenges from every corner. Government regulation and deregulation.
Your firm’s CRM users
Consolidation. Customer churn. And a pace of change that makes your
demand a system that
head spin. And then there are those volatile markets. Despite all of
increases their productivity.
that, you’ve still got to come up with the goods and provide solutions
But, you must consider issues
that will make a real, measurable difference to the bottom line. And
like regulatory compliance.
those measurable differences start by finding ways to achieve internal
In this guide, we outline
efficiencies that will help your financial institution deal more effectively
the system characteristics,
integration strategies and
This is often when companies look towards CRM. And when that change management practices
journey begins, your job as CIO is to deliver a unique CRM system that position you for CRM
while protecting current systems, maintaining productivity and thinking success.
long-term. With minimal cost or disruption. Some would say that’s a tall
order. At Pivotal CRM, we believe it can be done—sensibly, predictably
and safely. We believe the deliverables and requirements of every CIO
embarking on this journey point to one fundamental goal: Select a CRM
system that’s a good corporate citizen.
About the Author
Jason Rushforth is President of Front Office Solutions–overseeing sales and marketing
for CDC Software’s CRM and complaint management solutions. He is known for his
keynote speaking engagements for such events as the Wealth Management Forum and
webcasts with Wall Street & Technology and TowerGroup, and he frequently contributes
to industry articles in publications such as CRM Magazine.
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Here’s a Familiar Scenario The majority of your CRM investment in license fees,
You want customers to enjoy seamless interactions configuration, customization, and training occur well
with your institution. They need to feel that your before the software shows evidence of business
financial institution will offer them the opportunity to results.
make or save money with you. Because of this, the price tag attached to a CRM
And those customers need to feel that you’ve taken implementation can seem very high.
the time to learn and respond to their specific needs. Early in the buying process, ask prospective vendors
And that’s where customer relationship management to show you exactly how they approach and build
can really help. Particularly if you understand that CRM to reduce risk, resource issues, and cost.
CRM is a journey, not a destination. By adopting a forward-thinking strategy to account
When that journey begins, your job as CIO is to for costs in the areas of customization, integration,
deliver a unique CRM system. At the same time you scalability and deployability, you can significantly
have to protect current systems, maintain productivity reduce the TCO of your CRM system.
and think long-term. In all of these areas, the lowest total cost is a function
Oh, and you’ve got to do all that with minimal cost and of the CRM platform and architecture.
disruption. Delivering on internal business objectives while
Some would say that’s a tall order, but it can be done intelligently responding to customer and market
sensibly, predictably, and safely. opportunities is 100% dependent on the technology
foundation, or the architecture, of a CRM system.
The deliverables and requirements of many CIOs in a
financial services organization point to a fundamental TCO and the Need for Change
CRM goal: Within the complex environment of today’s financial
Select a CRM system that’s with good corporate services firms, effective CRM architecture needs to
citizen. That’s 100% designed to fit sensibly to what span multiple databases, applications, and business
your company needs. functions.
In the end, what you need is CRM that makes it easy In order to stay relevant to rapidly changing corporate
for your company to change and respond quickly. objectives and market flux, it must facilitate evolution.
To facilitate evolution, application functionality must be
Because you’ll need to do just that.
supported by the right architecture. Or the application
The New Accountability becomes brittle over time and always feels like it
When it comes to CRM, today’s financial services needs to be ‘shoe horned’ into doing what you want it
CIO is squarely focused on risk mitigation, resource to do.
management and cost predictability. Many of today’s CRM systems take the wrong
This new focus results in many new criteria. approach. They tightly couple the customer data,
business processes, and transactions associated with
How easy is this CRM system to buy?
marketing, selling, and servicing customers.
Can we deploy in a predictable timeframe?
This tight coupling may seem to provide a head-start
Will it fit with our current and future business IT in automating business processes, but ultimately
strategies? inflates the total cost of ownership.
All these criteria play a role in the greater theme of It creates a system that is rigid to change, causing
buying CRM today: measuring the lowest possible significant disruption to the business during updates
total cost of ownership, and the greatest business and upgrades.
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The informed CIO must take a balanced approach to Clearly, customization enhancements are not limited
evaluating both the application and the architecture to just the initial implementation, but rather require
when considering TCO. ongoing adjustment.
Ultimately, it is the CRM application’s flexibility, A customizable CRM application supports changes in
scalability, and deployability that will determine TCO both underlying data definitions and business process
as your organization adapts to the changing financial rules without requiring alteration of source code,
services marketplace. binaries, or runtime environments.
Flexibility: Does the architecture facilitate the How you handle your business rules can provide
configuration, customization and integration of the significant competitive advantage, because adapting
CRM application, both at the outset and over time as business rules faster than competitors—in response to
your business needs evolve? market pressures or customer demand allows you to
Scalability: Does the architecture let you scale and sell your financial services products faster and better
improve application performance cost-effectively? than your competitors.
Deployability: Does the architecture let you easily Flexible CRM possesses three essential
deploy, upgrade, and maintain the CRM application characteristics: breadth (not depth), a highly
over time? customizable architecture and a strong integration
Flexibility = Quick Response
To Change Breadth, Not Depth
First, CRM should provide a sensible set of commonly
A flexible CRM application is one that is both easy to
needed features out-of-the-box—but without the
customize and easy to integrate with intra- and extra-
excessive depth that makes many other CRM
enterprise applications and data sources.
And in the financial services world, there are a great
Excessive functionality increases an application’s
many such data sources.
complexity and reduces the usability of the application
Architectural flexibility is about making the CRM for the end-user, resulting in increased end-user
software, and thus CRM processes, work in the way training costs and risk of end-user rejection.
you see fit— not how the CRM vendor thinks it should
The only remedy for an application that is too
functionality-rich is to remove the excessive
Many CRM architectures are inherently rigid, making functionality during the implementation phase. But this
the associated applications very difficult to customize. approach to customization can be very risky—and
This raises TCO by forcing financial services firms to very time-consuming.
abandon proven business processes and start anew, Chances are that your CEO isn’t overly keen on
either because customization cannot be done, or anything that will extend the time it will take to
because it is simply too expensive. get your CRM application live and contributing to
The true measure of an application’s flexibility improving customer satisfaction, improved profitability
is based on the cost to perform customization and increased customer yield.
enhancements. These costs can include increases Massive CRM applications with almost limitless
in deployment time, decreases in application functionality depth are built upon a much more
performance, the cost of acquiring the skills to perform complex web of intra-dependencies than their leaner
the enhancement, and future costs associated with counterparts.
whether the enhancement can be used (or must be
In order not to compromise the integrity of the
discarded) during application upgrades.
application, customizers must pay extra attention
when removing or ‘unplugging’ excessive functionality.
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This results in longer implementation times and In a financial services environment, there can be a
difficult post-deployment change, and requires the multiplicity of such databases—dealing with corporate,
hiring of expensive teams of technical specialists, institutional and retail clients on everything from
significantly raising the TCO of the CRM system. current accounts to mortgages, business loans,
In a financial services environment, this task must and investment portfolios. And each of these, of
also be undertaken with a particular view to remaining course, can carry with it a specific set of regulatory
in compliance with all relevant local, national, and requirements.
international financial services regulations. To be effective, the CRM vendor must supply an
Database complexity is a good indicator of the overall integration framework that spans multiple data
complexity of a CRM system. For instance, Pivotal stores, applications, and business processes across
CRM’s underlying data structure has less than 200 departmental and even enterprise boundaries.
tables, yet it supplies the majority of the functionality Financial services companies often grow quickly,
required by most companies. By comparison, massive expanding through acquisitions that can result in a
CRM systems, in order to support a huge depth of single organization trying to support many disparate
thousands of features, require a data model with 10 to systems and clients. Ensuring data consistency,
20 times as many tables. accuracy, and timeliness between calendars, task
This model is not only inflexible, but is often simply lists and contact information from both connected and
too complex to understand. This necessitates a great disconnected users on multiple client systems can be
deal of reliance on specialized, vendor-supplied a complex challenge.
customizers, raising TCO. A cost-effective integration framework should leverage
and complement existing systems. It should facilitate
Ease of Customization seamless, bi-directional exchange of information to
The second characteristic of a highly flexible CRM both EAI and B2Bi via industry-standard middleware,
system is an architecture that facilitates change. Look third-party adapters, and Web services.
for a 3-tier, metadata-driven architecture, intuitive
Also, watch for an integration solution that is
customization tools that allow you to quickly customize
standards-based. You want to ensure that you
your CRM solution to match evolving business
can quickly adapt and extend your CRM system
dynamically as business systems and partners
Few CRM vendors separate business data from change. This is of particular concern in the financial
metadata (how the business data is organized and services sector, where changes wrought by a dynamic
used). When a CRM vendor makes it possible to business environment and increasing numbers of
upgrade just the metadata, as Pivotal CRM does, mergers are common.
all changes to the presentation services, business
services, or data services tiers are managed in Scalability and Performance
one central location. Execution and development For financial services firms, scalability is above all
environments are kept separate and only about creating high performance CRM from the user
synchronized when appropriate. perspective.
Therefore, the application can tolerate a high level of Unfortunately, there is currently no hard data on user
customization without a significant impact on existing expectations of enterprise applications such as CRM.
applications. However, it’s clear that power users—users who are
connected most of the time to the CRM system, such
Strong Integration Framework as contact center employees and support specialists
In order to derive maximum value from your CRM —have the greatest need for high-performance
investment, ensure it can be integrated with existing CRM and will tolerate less system latency than the
back-end systems and databases.
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occasional or disconnected user. Atypical, ad hoc Also, make sure that your CRM system can support
users will have different performance requirements. fine-tuning and adapting of the application and
It’s critical that both the CRM application and the network-level infrastructure. This will ensure consistent
network-level infrastructure be tunable to perform performance within infrastructure and bandwidth
within existing network infrastructure and bandwidth constraints, optimizing the user experience.
constraints. In any case, you should strive to take the safe, smart
The combination of highly scalable server approach to server architecture based on modular
technologies and 3-tier CRM applications is raising building blocks, such as that provided by Microsoft
the bar for high performance architectures that can and Intel.
enhance competitive performance. Financial services Technology foundations like this support your CRM
institutions are moving away from isolated, vertical initiatives while driving low TCO by letting you ‘scale
islands of proprietary data toward a more open and right’ to address business needs. You should be able
broadly deployable computing model. to scale up to handle more users and more data by
Today’s financial services company requires a high- adding resources to existing servers, or scale out to
performance server infrastructure that scales and increase performance in the face of additional users,
adapts to every area of the end-to-end enterprise: workload, volume, and functionality.
front office, back office, and wherever business goals Whatever the business-level objectives are, choosing
demand the highest possible levels of application the right deployment model (the right mix of scale-out
performance. and scale-up) allows businesses to dial-in exactly how
However, the rallying cry for today’s IT group much scalability, availability, and agility they need at
implementing CRM is no longer simply ‘scalability’ the most affordable price.
or CRM at any cost. With so many financial services
Deployment On Demand
businesses experiencing intensified cost cutting,
A deployable CRM application should be cost-effective
especially in their IT organizations, it’s important that
to install, maintain and upgrade, no matter whether
CRM application and platform vendors respond with
the organization is a multi-national financial services
flexible, sensible CRM solutions.
company with hundreds of regional offices, or a small
The first step in any scalability strategy is to assess bank or trading house with multiple departments.
business requirements. Anyone deploying CRM
Deployability is a major factor in lowering the
needs to balance an assessment of the business
TCO of a system, as there are enormous costs
requirements of a CRM system with its impact to the
associated with deploying applications to a large—and
current—and planned —IT infrastructure.
distributed—end user base, then supporting these
For example, uninterrupted up-time might be critical users as the application changes over time.
to maximizing customer loyalty and partner and
We believe that highly deployable CRM must possess
employee productivity. This would certainly be
two characteristics: 3-tier architecture design and a
the case in banking or trading environments. In a
modular deployment method.
commercial lending environment, the more pressing
issue may be adding capacity to the CRM database 3-Tier Architecture Design
management system to handle a greater number A 3-tier architecture is essential for high deployability.
of concurrent users or a greater number of ad hoc It separates the system into three main layers: the
queries. presentation layer, which controls what your users
In considering the long-term scalability of CRM, see and how they access the system; the application
ensure your chosen system can support access layer, where your business rules and your core
for not only full-time users, but large populations of applications reside; and the data layer, which contains
occasional and external users as well. your customer, product and business data.
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A 3-tier system makes it possible to utilize a In this Financial Services Guide, you’ve learned the
browser-based, zero-client install, zero footprint single overall requirement to keep in mind for your
client that simplifies deployment and ongoing financial services firm: select a CRM system that’s a
administration. Application customization, upgrades, good corporate citizen.
and maintenance are carried out exclusively at the When you choose CRM that is 100% designed to
middle tier, and broadcast to all users and satellites fit sensibly to what your financial services institution
via synchronization, allowing client-side updates to needs, it is easier for it to change and respond
be seamlessly communicated to users around the quickly.
world with no additional requirement for client-side
Remember the three pillars of TCO: Flexibility,
Scalability and Deployability.
Modular Deployment Method Across these three pillars, the CRM you choose
A modular deployment method allows applications should facilitate change as your business needs
from across a CRM suite (sales, marketing, evolve over time.
service, partner management, etc.) to be rolled out
separately, reducing the cost-to-results ratio. This Pivotal CRM for Financial Services
means, for instance, that a financial services firm Pivotal CRM for Financial Services offers
could deploy a contact center solution, and later comprehensive, integrated, industry-specific
deploy a sales force automation system, followed capabilities that increase insight into operational
by a marketing automation solution as requirements performance, streamline processes across the firm,
and budgets allow. Plugging additional modules into and improve responsiveness to client demands.
the system should be seamless, and there should With discrete CRM offerings for institutional asset
be no additional infrastructure costs associated with management, mutual fund wholesaling, capital
integrating multiple modules. markets, private banking/wealth management, and
commercial banking, Pivotal CRM for Financial
Summary Services puts critical relationships at the core of
Deliver a unique CRM system. Requirements: Protect organizational strategy in a way that fits the unique
current systems. Maintain productivity. business processes of financial services firms.
Think long-term. Minimal cost and disruption.
Predictable, safe timelines and budgets.
Want to learn more?
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