SwiftSHRED ECM Series, Part V
Enterprise Relationship Management

Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) encompasses many facets of an operation. What makes it distinct from earlier installments in this ECM Series is that it is the only ECM area that incorporates and utilizes outside elements. While the other categories (Imaging, Workflow, Records Management) all deal with the internal workings of an enterprise, ERM acknowledges and accounts for external drivers. Enterprise Relationship Management covers the methods you use for coordinating with your suppliers, vendors, distributors, customers, etc.

To give a quick example of these external drivers, consider an Uber driver, or a Lyft driver, or a Via driver, or any driver from pretty much any rideshare app you can think of. They pick you up and take you to your destination. Each driver has a profile, and you can give their service a good or bad rating through the app. They can also give your customer profile a rating. If you get enough bad ratings, all the ridesharing drivers will know not to pick you up. This is Enterprise Relationship Management in action. ERM is the utilizing of operational data to improve efficiency and organization.

There are four elements of ERM: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – the last example was CRM -, Partner Relationship Management (PRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Human Resource Management (HRM), and Supply Chain Management (SCM)1. If you like initialism, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go through each category, but it is helpful to remember that the goal of ERM is similar to that of workflow – to automate as much as possible in order to improve efficiency and drive profits.

“Speed, Speed, SPEED!!”
Mick, Rocky II

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) & Partner Relationship Management (PRM)

There is some debate over whether or not PRM should be considered a separate entity from CRM, or if it’s really just an extension of it2 . Both CRM and PRM share their data through an extranet network. This allows access to a small subset of data from an organization’s intranet. Extranets act like an intranet, where employees can create content, communicate, collaborate, etc., but it provides controlled access to authorized customers, vendors, and partners, or others outside the company3.

How is this extranet good for partnerships?

Your extranet can streamline repetitive business processes. For instance, if you order from the same vendors over and over, it makes sense to establish a secure private network where all of your orders can take place in a virtual space4. Say you’re a beverage company and you use the same distributor for all your regional sales. With a good PRM system in place, every time an order is placed with you it can instantaneously be communicated to the warehouse, and then an order form is automatically sent to the distributor, which calculates the number skids, the weight, the price, pickup and drop off location and ETAs, and any other pertinent information. All of the input is done by the customer in the extranet, rather than over the phone or through email.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

ERP is, simply put, the accessibility of certain resources to multiple divisions of the same organization. One example would be sales orders automatically populating a financial sheet5. It reduces redundancies and ideally puts the right information in front of the right people.

Human Resource Management (HRM)

HRM takes the same concept of automating repetitive tasks and attaches it to speeding up the processes associated with the recruiting, hiring, developing, and reviewing the performance of personnel. Performance management software can determine performance by establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for personnel based on their roles and the expectations associated with those roles. One of the more common ways it is used is through payroll software like electronic timesheets.

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

SCM will overlap with the other elements of ERM because the supply chain is a term used to describe the flow of business processes from one arena to the next covering materials, suppliers, transportation, warehousing, reverse logistics, inventory and distribution. It is an end-to-end coordination. Its nature is to be a multi-operational, cross-functional, cross-company coordinating agent6. The supply chain is really about collaboration between internal divisions and external operators. The right SCM technology is similar to a lot of HRM software. SCM evaluates performance of suppliers and it can also assign corrective and preventative actions, like providing alternate routes and accounting for all kinds of roadblocks and delays.

The barriers between CRM, PRM, ERP, HRM, and SCM can be hazy at times, which is why they all fall under the umbrella of ERM.

When all of these abbreviated terms are put together it can seem very confusing. The main point to remember is that all the Enterprise Relationship Management divisions are meant to minimize risk, eliminate waste, drive down cost through automation, and speed up processes. Stay tuned for our final installment in our Enterprise Content Management Series, where we’ll discuss Intelligent Information Management (IIM) and speculate about the future of ECM.

  1. Techopedia, 2018
  2.  Rouse, 2018
  3. Eisenhauer, 2017
  4. Eisenhauer, 2017
  5. Oracle, 2015
  6. Dittman, 2010