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Information Moves The Supply Chain: A CRM Primer

When the supply chain is critical to your business, and information is critical to the supply chain, it’s hard to see how companies can manufacture success without an integrated, easy-to-use CRM.

The success of your supply chain depends on relationships. A slowdown on your end might be due to a glitch with a supplier’s delivery process. And a backup over there might be caused by problems at a customer’s site. All of the activities at each point need to be working efficiently or everything down the line suffers.  

All of these activities require a constant stream of up-to-date information from multiple sources. This supply of information about your relationships is as important as all your physical supplies — perhaps more so. To manage it, manufacturers are embracing customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

Why Does CRM Matter in Manufacturing?

CRM gives your team the power to track, monitor and advance relationships across your supply chain. Those abilities are increasingly critical in a globally competitive marketplace. CRM matters to manufacturing in several ways, including:

  1. Quick answers for immediate questions: When your staff fields questions from a customer, supplier or other stakeholder, they need to be able to access data about the relevant account or business quickly.
  2. Integration with critical systems: Think about all of the tools you use to track what’s happening throughout the supply chain. When you can weave a CRM across those solutions, your teams can keep everything moving more efficiently. When it comes to integration, think order fulfillment, payment processing, customer service ticketing, email and other everyday applications.
  3. Easier methods for strengthening relationships: Your ability to stand out as a better choice for partners, customers and other supply chain stakeholders will often come down to service. Make it easy for your staff to deliver that service, and they will be more likely to project a personal, efficient and positive face of the company.

A Case Study in CRM for the Supply Chain

TRB Lightweight Structures is a manufacturer of products for rail, automotive, aerospace and other applications. The company chose to integrate a CRM platform and quickly found its team could communicate more effectively with internal and external parties. Regardless of which staff member’ steps in to serve a customer, partner or supplier, TRB’s team can quickly access every detail about the account and deliver fast, accurate service that keeps things moving. Its customizable CRM allows TRB to pull relevant details from its help desk tools, accounting software and other applications. The result has been easier access to information, stronger relationships and a streamlining of the supply chain.

For TRB and manufacturers in multiple industries, information access is critical to supply-chain operations. Accounts receivable, fulfillment, sales and other departments need the ability to access data easily and autonomously. Without such capability, individual departments cannot play their parts in maintaining an uninterrupted flow from raw materials to inventory to manufacturing to finished goods to distribution to happy customers.  

Promoting a Lean, Swift Supply Chain With CRM

Suppliers, distributors and customers all play a role in your success. If communication between these parties and your team is unnecessarily challenging or interferes with stakeholders’ businesses, your supply chain becomes jeopardized. A CRM helps to solve these challenges by making critical, updated customer information available throughout your organization. When the supply chain is critical to your business, and information is critical to the supply chain, it’s hard to see how companies can manufacture success without an integrated, easy-to-use CRM.

Anthony Smith is the CEO of Insightly.

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