Oracle CRM On Demand Administration Essentials

By Padmanabha Rao , Venkatesan Sundaram
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  1. Overview of CRM On Demand

About this book

The CRMOD software is built to world-class industry reference models of customer relationship management, and the service provides all the software and features you would need for a world-class customer relationship management practice. This knowledge is essential to keep the costs of investment low and return on the investment high.

"Oracle CRM On Demand Administration Essentials" describes the design and discipline of the software and service of CRMOD. It gives you the knowledge to embed the system to a high quality and sustainable effect in your business.

This book delves into the details of the CRMOD system to equip the implementation team with the knowledge of the model of customer relationship management to adapt, adopt and advance to suit your business, keep your customers delighted and your competitors gasping. CRMOD is a platform system providing online transactions, reports and analytics and integrations with other systems. Understanding the capabilities of each of these, and bringing them together suitably, helps you build a world-class practice of CRM.

The book will start from a definition of the practice of customer relationship management to using the Oracle CRM On Demand technology to support the practice. You will learn what you get out of the box, which can be quite a lot once you begin to explore it in depth. You will then learn to configure and customize the system for both your extended tactical needs and intensive strategic business needs.

Publication date:
December 2012
Publisher
Packt
Pages
304
ISBN
9781849685009

 

Chapter 1. Overview of CRM On Demand

If you think https://sso.crmondemand.com/router/logon.jsp is a practical and elegant URL, then we couldn't agree more. Oracle CRM On Demand (CRMOD) is designed better than any other service in its class. Effective change-management in the marketing, sales, or service practices of your enterprise cannot be accomplished with CRMOD alone. However, the state-of-the-art, on-demand software to support effective customer relationship management practices in an enterprise is best defined by CRMOD. This chapter is an introduction to the (software as a) service, contract, and party known as CRMOD. It gives an overview of CRMOD and of its administration. Legions of users and entire companies still refer to it as SOD, short for Siebel On Demand and have login passwords as "ilovesod". A rose is a rose by any other name!

By the end of this chapter, we will have understood the composition of:

  • The CRMOD service—its history, technical, and commercial design

  • The task of CRMOD administration

 

What is CRMOD?


It pays to know the history of CRMOD when learning its present and predicting its future.

The history of Siebel Systems Inc. as the provider of world-class software for customer relationship management in enterprises is well known and we shall not go into its rich history here. We will only recall that Siebel was synonymous with CRM systems in the 1990s. In 2003, Siebel Systems Inc. went live with Siebel On Demand (SOD), hosting at IBM's data centre in Texas, USA. The upshot of SOD was that it was "software as a service" (SaaS) and its delivery was helped by an amalgamation of Upshot and Siebel Enterprise. There were no global SaaSes at the time, for on-premise hardware and software could not be replaced as far as security, availability, and performance were concerned. Siebel OD was hosted on Windows, Siebel Enterprise 7.5 with DB2 and ran on Microsoft Internet Explorer, offering a subset of functionality of the on-premise version, that is, Siebel CRM Enterprise. It focused on rapid deployment for a reasonably homogenized marketing and sales department and after-sales service department. The user's interface to SOD was better than that offered by other websites, web portals, and web applications on the Internet at the time.

The year 2006 saw the acquisition of Siebel Systems by Oracle Corporation, renaming the service as Oracle CRM On Demand, and migration of the hosting to Oracle's data centre in Austin, Texas. A product versioning scheme conveyed the long term commitment for maintaining the CRMOD service. Just as with Siebel On Demand Release 13, you would continue to have no choice to stay on an outdated version; newer versions would be either bug fixes or new functionality, "free" of cost, so dare we ask why you would not want to be on the latest version? Oracle CRMOD has had regular enhancements to the application including releases of editions that are specific to some industries such as life sciences, automotives, financial services, and high-technology. A high quality, on-demand service is sustainable at a large scale so it goes without saying that Oracle CRMOD aimed to increase its clientele by orders of magnitude.

In 2012, it is now CRMOD release 21, which is available from data centers located in Australia, Ireland, and the USA. This release contains about 40 defined business objects, a robust analytic system including prebuilt analyses, usage analytics, a bulk data loader, a configuration migration tool, administration APIs, external file hosting, several prebuilt integrations with other Oracle enterprise products, and the option to host CRMOD on-premise in your data centre. It is delivered from Oracle Enterprise Linux and Siebel Enterprise 7.8 with Oracle 11g. This release runs on Microsoft IE, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and on the Apple iPad. Adjunct to this are the Desktop CRM and the Mobile CRM products that can be administered as your main form of CRMOD. The Oracle data centre provides you with three systems for every subscription: the production and the stage environments, and a customer test environment on request.

The CRMOD service

You do not implement CRMOD so much as release CRMOD to a suspecting workforce.

CRMOD is a web application, that is, you talk with it on HTTPS and in XML; your communications can be from web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari, or a web server such as Apache or IIS.

The commercial and technical currency of CRMOD is the user licenses, that is, you need to buy as many licenses as the number of users (both human and machines). The number of data records that you can store is a multiple of your user licenses, and the rate of use of the application resources (such as analytics queries and web service calls) is a multiple of your user licenses. The limits on the rate of the use of the application resources were introduced in release 19 and the limits are currently at a level high enough to meet the demands of a "normal outlier" as well.

CRMOD is built on a model of a customer relationship management software. It is not a mere database or just a collection of forms for data entries. It is a why-what-where-when-how-to structure for the application and performance of customer-centric data and information. Employees, customers, products, prices, and processes are some of the standard elements of its structure.

Service infrastructure

The hardware and software system that hosts the CRMOD application is called a pod. When you subscribe to CRMOD you can opt, at different prices, to be a single tenant or one of the many tenants of the host. The multi-tenant subscription is suitable if you are a small to medium-sized organization with fewer than 1000 users and/or 500,000 "accounts". A single tenant subscription should be your selection if you are a medium to large organization with a user base exceeding 1000 and/or 1 million "accounts". You can also opt to provision the pod in your private data center; this is the @Customer deployment of CRMOD. The comparative economics of hosting [email protected] and hosting [email protected] varies depending on the number of users, growth, and regulatory costs. In the case of [email protected], Oracle Corporation gives you the list of hardware and middleware to buy and provision in your data centre, and installs the CRMOD application on it. @Customer, Oracle maintains the application regularly on slightly negotiated schedules albeit as any other pod @Oracle.

The multi-tenant pod is one where multiple instances of a CRMOD application operate on the same physical infrastructure, for the many tenant companies. All companies' data is present in the same database; however, a company has no access to the data of another company. Every customer instance would have its own copy of the customer-specific application's configuration details such as its own fields, layouts, roles, reports, and so on.

In the single tenant pod, every company has a dedicated physical infrastructure providing better performance and independence from the fluctuating utilization of server resources of other companies as may happen in a multi-tenant pod.

The @Customer deployment is usually bought by companies that have legal restrictions on the storage of data in the countries where the Oracle data centers are located (USA, Ireland, and Australia) or in external locations. Examples of such companies are banks and government agencies.

In addition to the production instance of CRMOD, every company has a staging of CRMOD. About 3 months after you have purchased your licenses, the stage would have the copy of your production instance—the data as well as the application's configuration. The stage is refreshed periodically (quarterly as per current schedule) with a copy of the production instance.

The stage is officially meant for use by Oracle, to troubleshoot your production issues and test the patch releases before applying them to production. Technically, you are free to use the stage for your development activities as well, subject to some conditions; these are as follows:

  • The availability of the stage is not assured on any given day or time. The stage may go offline for maintenance activity at any time without prior notice. The duration of downtime is not assured either. In the long history of CRMOD, the stages have rarely gone offline for more than once a month or for longer than 12 hours.

  • The stage gets refreshed with a copy of the production on schedule. In this process you may lose any data between your stage and production as of the date of snapshot plus any difference between the date of snapshot and date of actual refresh. Typically there is a difference of a week between the snapshot and the actual refresh.

  • You will need to identify and manage the risks of your production data residing on the stage. Access to the stage should be treated with the same amount of care that you would bring to the accesses to your production. It is your responsibility to ensure that your development team and the production data's copy on stage has appropriate access controls according to your company's requirements.

The advantage of using the staging environment is that you can rely on getting a full copy of your production system every quarter, at no manual cost.

The stage may not prove to be the complete environment for your development and testing activity. In such an eventuality, you can take recourse to the CTE, the Customer Test Environment . The CTE is a production quality environment and is designed for more reliability than the stage. You are not allowed to put large loads of data on the CTE. The CTE gets only the application updates and is not refreshed by Oracle with the copy of your production instance. The stage and the CTE are designed to complement each other as part of your agile CRM technology's release plan. The configuration migration tool combined with the schedules of the CTE and the stage can be used very effectively for your Production enhancement plans.

Note

What is the name of your pod? In the CRMOD URL https://secure-ausomxPOD.crmondemand.com, the letters in place of "POD" carry the three-letter name of the given pod. Your production pod, stage pod, and the CTE pod each have different names. Every pod in the CRMOD world, whether @Oracle or @Customer, is given a unique name.

The software

CRMOD out of the box has built-in sales, service, and marketing processes modeled after industry-leading best practices. A process consists of a set of activities in a sequence to achieve a specific objective. For example, a marketing process might have the following steps:

  1. Segmenting your customers as campaign recipients.

  2. Setting up a campaign.

  3. Executing the campaign.

  4. Collecting the response from the recipients.

  5. Generating the leads from the campaign response.

  6. Qualifying the leads.

  7. Identifying opportunities.

  8. Reporting and analyzing the effectiveness of the campaign.

To perform each of the steps in a process, CRMOD offers the following features:

  • A prebuilt data model with relevant fields

  • Facilities to associate related information to support the process

  • Embedded business rules

  • Embedded data visibility and access controls

  • A comprehensive set of 50 prebuilt reports and analytics

  • A collection of dashboards

All these features make a compelling case to go live out of the box.

Reports can be generated in real time, meaning that the information can be queried and presented from CRM transactional tables, or the reports can be historical (a day older) where data would be queried from de-normalized, high performance analytical tables. CRMOD maintains the transactional tables and the analytical cubes in a single database in the pod. Obviously, it is wiser to use analytic reports to ensure better reporting performances as well as to avoid load on the transactional database, thus slowing down your online CRM applications. Reports can be simple, presenting the data in a table format or can be interactive with filters, charts, pivots, tickers, facilities to drill-down, and scripted actions.

Industry editions

Customer management is a horizontal function, that is, it is existent in every enterprise. However, the practice of that management in, say, an insurance business, is distinct compared to that in an automotive business or in a pharmaceutical business. CRMOD provides industry editions of the software to support the industry-specific needs.

For retailing businesses, there is the partner relationship management module to facilitate partner management activities, such as partner recruitment, partner training, marketing development funds, fund requests, ROI tracking of marketing programs, and deal-management features to effectively leverage your partners. The wealth management edition defines a host of objects to support household relationships and financial accounts management. The insurance edition defines all the objects through the life cycle of a policy sale and service. The life sciences edition offers objects and reporting to manage samples, call planning, call tracking, and education events. The automotive edition has the objects, workflow, and reports for dealer management through post-sales vehicle revenue tracking.

The S.M.A.R.Test way to maximize returns and reduce your costs of deploying CRMOD is to merge Oracle's research with the industry's best practices and release it without customizing the software.

CRMOD administration

The CRMOD administrator is the business analyst and the information technologist, combined.

As an administrator you should avoid reinventing the wheels of your CRMOD as much as possible. So let us take a very quick look at the default definitions and processes in CRMOD that come right out of the box.

CRMOD out of the box

Contact, campaign, lead, opportunity, account, service request, and activity management are the standard functions that are available out of the box.

The lead management process comes up with a set of screens to create a lead, capture activities that are specific to the lead, run qualification scripts to qualify the lead, reject and archive the lead, convert the qualified lead to an opportunity, associate the opportunity to an new/existing contact, and associate the opportunity to a new/existing account.

The account management process provides a facility to create/edit your accounts' key information, associate the accounts to the contacts, opportunities, leads, activities, service requests, assets, and so on to build a comprehensive view of the account, define an account team with differential access rights to the account data, and establish a hierarchy of accounts if need be.

The contact management process provides a facility to record key information of your B2C customers or your B2B contacts, and associate the contacts to accounts, opportunities, leads, activities, service requests, and a contact team.

An opportunity is when you have a product/revenue identified and a date by when you expect to have a win/lose decision on it. The opportunity management process in CRMOD has a sales process that defines six stages, product revenue fields for recurring, and one-time sales and forecasting. Combined with the opportunity assignment manager, the opportunity assessment scripts, and the prebuilt lists and analytics on the opportunity home page, the default opportunity module is powerful.

The service request management process captures the product and a standard set of service definition fields to help route the requests to the relevant staff. Combined with the assignment manager, the service request call scripts, the solution object, and the prebuilt lists and analytics on the service request's home page, the default service request module can be released as a self-sufficient application for your service department.

In Chapter 2, Steps 1-2-3: Go Live Out of the Box, we will walk through the details of going live out of the box.

Releasing CRMOD out of the box makes for a stable growth and medium-to-high share of the adopter market. The next step in the business of change is making a "star" and eventually a "cash cow" out of it. This typically requires generating large scale demand and/or high value niches, and of course expanding your production to meet that demand. This customization activity usually involves configuration of the various features of the CRMOD and/or writing integration software for increased automation.

Custom administration

CRMOD has a full-fledged administration module that you can use to customize the object, accesses, and process definitions to suit the trademark marketing, sales, and service practices of your company.

The fields in the prebuilt data model can be customized. You can add new fields of many datatypes, namely ShortText, LongText, Numeric, Integer, Picklist, Date, DateTime, MultiSelectPicklist, Currency, and Weblink. A LongText datatype can hold 255 English characters, a Numeric field stores decimals, and Weblink is a hyperlink with intelligence. The MultiSelectPicklist datatype is a powerful construct and especially so when you find it neatly available in the report palette; to find an equally powerful use for it in the business process is the hallmark, we believe, of an administrator with a sound mind. Do note that once created a field cannot be destroyed. You can mask it by using the invisible character (Alt + 255) but you cannot delete it.

You can rename the custom objects to hold your company-specific information. For example, to capture the hobby details of your customers, you simply rename one of the custom objects as "hobby" and associate the "hobby" object to the standard contact object to capture one or more hobbies of the contact, and run workflows, processes, and reports upon that.

You can modify the page layouts to have the fields of your choice. The layouts can be associated to a specific role such that a sales manager may be able to see the gross profit information in an opportunity but a service officer may not be able to see if he views the opportunity details.

Tools such as the assignment manager, the assessment scripts, and the workflows are some of the other key facilities that are meant to be customized by nature.

You can opt to create new user roles or modify the prebuilt ones if you are certain you will not need the prebuilt definitions in the future.

CRMOD is built for practices in marketing, sales, and service in all their varied forms, and that means that across companies that use CRMOD, one would find it deployed for intermediate processes such as originations, approval workflows, self-service portals, presentation layer for a host of backend systems, product design portals, market research service, and so on. Many of these deployments, which we have been lucky to observe, advise, or deliver, are carefree exploitations of the rich feature set of CRMOD, namely its functional object model, simple user interface, web services, and analytics.

To customize CRMOD is to know it inside out. To that end, all the chapters after the next chapter will walk you through the particulars of customizing your CRMOD to suit your business process.

 

Summary


The CRMOD service is a fairly complex one wherein value is realized in the collaboration between Oracle and you. In this chapter, we looked at the deliveries by Oracle when you buy CRMOD, and the concomitant responsibilities on your part to exploit them for your business. We understood the design and objectives of the CRMOD application that should help compose the job description for the CRMOD administrator. We had an overview of the standard capabilities of the software that are available out of the box as well as the capabilities that can be customized. In the subsequent chapters we will look at the particulars of the CRMOD application in detail.

About the Authors

  • Padmanabha Rao

    Kadirenahalli Venkata Padmanabha Rao has been in the industry for 14 years. He started with India's National Resource Data Management System project in 1998, working on a decision support system for the Zilla Panchayat of the Raichur district in the state of Karnataka. He was a research assistant for the World Bank's Environmental Management Capacity Building project in India. Paddy was an educator and an information technologist in the non-profit sector before joining CRMIT in 2007. In CRMIT, he brings his familiarity with research, development policy, and education to the technology table. He is a graduate of the National Institute of Technology at Hamirpur and lays equal store by atoms and bits with his training in engineering and economics. His academic interests include massive multiplayer mobile games and transportation problems. He is excited by the possibilities today to deliver a mind blowing experience on a large scale to customers.

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  • Venkatesan Sundaram

    Venkatesan Sundaram is a co-founder of CRMIT and is positioned as the Senior Director of Project Delivery/Consulting. Before CRMIT, he had worked in various consulting positions for Baan Info Systems, BroadVision, and Cognizant Technology Solutions. He specializes in implementation of CRM solutions across multiple verticals and also architected many e-commerce solutions. One of the implementations (www.irctc.co.in) is the fastest-growing e-commerce site in India and the first mobile commerce application. At the time of its delivery, the project won PC Quest's "Maximum Social Impact for Indian people in 2004" and the "Best IT Implementation in India for 2005" awards. He holds a Post Graduation degree in Software Enterprise Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, is certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) by the American Production and Inventory Control Society, and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

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