My ERP Musings

ERP, ERP, some CRM and more ERP

All you need to know about Hedge Funds


A hedge fund is a private partnership that doesn’t have many restrictions and regulations by law. The Hedge Fund manager uses a range of investment techniques to invest the money in any way he or she sees fit. Usually this generates a higher return than from regular investments given its risk. Not everyone can invest in a hedge fund though. They are restricted by law to only let 100 investor in per fund, so there is a high minimum investment. Expect to be buying in at an average minimum of $500 000.


Misconducts in the past


In a time when the financial market is so unbalanced, it is important to find a reliable hedge fund manager. Typically, you won’t know exactly what these managers are doing with your money as they tend to be quite secretive about it. In the past we’ve seen a few managers charged with fraud or theft. Philip Falcone, a billionaire hedge fund manager, has just finished a trial facing his civil fraud charges that he used money from the fund to pay his own taxes. Allegedly he also favoured some clients above others. The firm and Falcone have agreed to pay $18 million to settle the case. Another hedge manager that went rogue is Anthony Chiasson. He was convicted in December of five counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud “Anthony Chiasson chose to be part of a corrupt circle of friends that cheated the market to gain an unfair trading advantage, and for that, he lost his career, his reputation and now he has lost his liberty,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.


The importance of CRM


There is a fine line that mustn’t be overstepped and it takes a great manager to complete a task with such massive responsibility. When investing, one is always taking a risk, but since the times are changing it is becoming more and more important for hedge fund managers to communicate with their investors. Clients are simply demanding a customer relationship, as it is becoming fundamental for doing business. You wouldn’t just hand your money over to anyone would you? It takes a lot of trust and a great relationship when you are talking about the amount of money needed to invest in a hedge fund. So hedge managers are slowly realising that their job is more than just about managing the money and building investor relationships is intertwined with it.


Luckily for them we live in a high technological world where investor relationship software is available for use. This software makes investor relations management more reliable as they can present hard facts to the clients. It also produces data-enriched views and reports covering client, investor and prospect behaviors and activities which are particular to the effective management of businesses. Investors can even log in to this software to download specific documents. This promotes a transparent way of conducting business and adds to the levels of trust. It leaves the customer well informed ensuring that their moolah is in safe hands.


What hedge fund managers can learn from Amazon?

Hedge fund managers that are looking to boost fund investment should be looking towards adopting Amazons ability to use big data and manage customer relationships to increase growth, innovation and productivity. The current advertising restrictions in place for hedge funds means that hedge fund managers need to be savvier in attracting and retaining investors to improve investment opportunities, mimicking Amazons ability to create strong one-to-one relationships and track, analyse and distribute customer data will help to increase opportunities for growth.

Although Amazon is an online shopping portal with no face to face contact with their customers, through data collection they are able to discover their customers likes, dislikes and how and when they shop. Using this data they have been able to create unique shopping experiences that encourage customers to increase spending through add-on products and recommendations.

By focusing their attention on the customer experience and targeting returning customers Amazon have been able to increase their market growth. This is because returning customers spend an average of 67% more than new customers. It is therefore vital that hedge fund managers adopt this strategy and look towards targeting existing clients for new investment opportunities rather than focusing marketing resources on attracting potential investors.

The good thing is that returning clients are also easy and cheaper to market to as they are already familiar with your company and the services you offer. As attracting interest in hedge funds is largely generated by word of mouth (due to advertising restrictions) building strong relationships with clients will allow hedge fund managers to turn these clients into loyal, brand ambassadors helping to improve growth and cutting down on marketing costs.

Hedge fund managers that wish to develop stronger relationships with both current and prospective clients should look towards implementing CRM for wealth management software that will help to provide better transparency, reporting and confidence when interacting with clients.  Hedge fund software such as CRM for wealth management enables hedge fund managers to track all interactions with clients, as well as regulators and other individuals, from email and calls to website activity and meetings. Managing communications on one centralised platform allow managers to view complete client history data given them the ability to deal with clients confidentially and identify new investment opportunities. Tracking data via hedge fund software will also help to identify processes that can be streamlined such as email marketing and reporting, helping to improve productivity.

By taking a leaf out of Amazon’s book and focusing on building one-to-one customer relationships and using scalable hedge fund software to support and streamline client management hedge fund managers can maximise investment opportunities, growth and productivity.

ERP Software: More Than Just a Backend System

ERP Software is usually referred to as back end management software, particularly when it is being distinguished from its counterpart CRM. ERP software lets you manage every aspect of the business from one software system. By managing the finance, production, quality, logistics and HR in one package it eliminates loss of information and data duplication which contribute to human errors and loss of profits slowing down production and delivery times.

Manufacturing supply chain production

Manufacturing machinery

ERP Software designed for managing the manufacturing supply chain visibility and tailored to a specific business is better equipped to implement solutions to common challenges facing the manufacturing industry. Manufactures must implement Engineering Change Orders (ECO) to amend design faults and errors that arise during production. By implementing ECO there may be changes in raw material, components, assembly lines and changes in specifications. This will also result in multiple bills of materials (BOM) being issued. If manufacturers implement ECOs and BOMs through traditional and rigid methods like excel sheets and email a massive paper trail that diverges can be created. Multiple orders that are duplicated or placed out of chronological order could end up being costly. ERP software is designed to simply this problem and prevents such problems occurring when creating new ECOs and BOMs.

ERP systems with integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) and computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM) properties helps manage the distribution of ECOs and BOMs in one central database so that there are no diverging copies. This will help eliminate the chance of human errors causing delays and damage to the top end growth. To help improve the manufacturing process having standardised practices in place, removing paper trails and creating constant dialogue between the designers, the manufacturing floor and engineers to improve both the product and the supply chain.

Furthermore ERP capabilities extend beyond back office functions with an integrated front office customer relationship management (CRM) and supplier relationship management (SRM) making collaborating and engaging with enterprises, supply chains and customers easier; helping to mitigate risk and ensuring production run times and increasing revenue growth.

ERP software is enabling manufacturers to collaborate more efficiently with small enterprises and supply chains to improve production and help increase the bottom line. Combined with CRM and SRM ERP software can provide valuable insights for product demand and feedback, helping the manufacturer view gaps and trends in the market.

Manufacturing supply chain ERP system that is robust and integrated within every aspect of the manufacturing company will help improve production times, product quality, growth and most importantly the bottom line.

Keeping fashion flowing!

Fashion today is a huge business responsible for billions of pounds changing hands every year, filling the high streets with clothing as well as shifting large number online as well. All of this requires a massive amount of organisation which can often be overlooked; this is where ERP software or enterprise resource planning systems come into play.

On the top level both websites and shops need stock control systems to keep track of all the sizes of clothing colours and designs; something that can very quickly become complicated, this takes a lot of stress of management and greatly helps in planning out orders for new stock making things flow more easily.

The next level is keeping track of those orders and the logistics of the clothing. Order tracking these days is very common but ERP systems really show how far it can go; by tracking orders and tracking stock levels in warehouses and stores, you can ensure deliveries won’t arrive while there isn’t any space in the warehouse and it can warn you when such an event might take place such that you can reorganise. In a business where fashion trends can blow over in a matter of months, it can be critical to keep things flowing smoothly and not end up with stock sitting around wasting space, this can also help to get that stock out to stores and shifted.

Beyond the fashion logistics there is of course the manufacturing side of the fashion industry, something which really goes back to the roots of ERP. Modern ERP systems really started out as MRP systems or material resource planning designed for manufacturing companies; in a similar way to stock taking and logistics management, this part of the ERP system keeps track of material stocks, orders and the materials required to complete them, deliveries and even the timescales involved in getting those orders competed for deadlines.

Top level ERP software helps to tie all of this in together, something that otherwise would very quickly become ridiculously complex and unmanageable. Another benefit of having a system storing all of the information centrally is that it helps to keep everybody on the same page; when everybody is looking at the same data, delivery dates don’t get confused, changes in the orders don’t get missed and mistakes in general become a lot less common, something that could help your business save a lot of money!

Keeping Your Business Running Smoothly

In the world of business, it doesn’t take long for a business to get to a level of complexity where management starts to become an issue. Luckily in modern business there are a huge number of business tools to help companies manage and cope with the challenges which are presented as a business grows. These tools vary a huge amount in their purpose, effectiveness and cost however, so looking for example at some of the more common ones; CRM and ERP systems:

CRM is customer relationship management software, which is software centred around keeping track of clients, any contact made with them and any information relating to their account. CRM systems are particularly important in a business where multiple points of contact are possible for a single client as this gives you a single, up to date source of information for each client helping speed up response time, provide a better more customer focused service and save time for your workforce; a very powerful tool indeed!

ERP is enterprise resource planning, often used in conjunction with a CRM package. This helps to keep track of orders, workloads, logistics and predict material requirements in the case of manufacturing to keep large supply chains running smoothly, equally important in some businesses but for completely different reasons.

Of course in business there isn’t ever a one solution fits all way to approach CRM or ERP for example. Since so many businesses are run in different ways with very different business processes; having a robust tool which you can modify and rework to function alongside your existing business processes can be very important and should be a big factor in picking business tools. The downside of more robust systems generally is, the more complex and changeable a tool is; the more initial setup will be required, which takes time and thus money to get right.

A good way to help mitigate large setup costs is to find a system reseller who specialise in your business vertical. Chances are they will have a framework already suited to your business, and they’ll better understand how your business works for any changes you may want made. This can save a huge amount of time for you and save a lot of money since they will likely get the system right faster!

Another thing worth considering is cloud based systems. CRM cloud software for example is essentially one which is hosted online via a third party allowing you to get access potentially from anywhere there is internet. This is invaluable in businesses with geo-dispersed locations and also with people on the move a lot. Accessing CRM and ERP systems on the go with tablets and mobile devices is really coming into its own, so if it’s something which could be useful to your company, you should certainly look into it. Good luck finding a system which works for your business.

How Retail Management Software is Changing Customer Service

Employees dealing face-to-face with customers will often know their customers by name or at the very least by face. They may even know more like a customer’s favourite drink or regular customers clothing size. When I was working in retail I would always put aside a few of the hard to find smaller sizes of capri pants for when one of our regular customers would come in. Without fail she would always buy a pair.  Being able to predict and tailor an experience to a customer is good customer service. When I inevitably left the company (both retail and hospitality have a high staff turn-over) that knowledge was lost.

Likewise at the coffee shop I get my daily fix from, the lady behind the counter automatically makes my large caramel latte without any exchange being needed. Not only does this make me feel special but it also creates customer loyalty.

Starbucks have realised this potential and have started a campaign for all their baristas to ask for the customer’s name on the order. They hope that this will create familiarity and help to retain customers, which is a lot easier to do than recruiting new ones.

Not only can this enriched customer experience be implemented on a face to face level but it can also be implemented online, helping your business to create better marketing campaigns and more effective targeting of consumers.

With more businesses interacting with consumers online harnessing customer preferences and information to create a unique experience for that particular customer based on their wants and needs should be at the forefront of every business, at any level. A customer relations management solution (CRM) helps to enrich the customer experience.

With customers online there is more opportunities to gather information on their preferences, allowing business to provide personal experiences at the right time.
CRM data that can group your clients by age, demographic, interest and engagement enables business to target customers with a personal experience at a time when they are more likely to convert.

Retail management software enables businesses to provide focused customer service that enriches the experience for the customer turning them from an occasional customer to a loyal customer to an advocate of the brand.

Helpful Tools for Business

In business these days there are a huge number of tools to help you get your job done in the most efficient way and keep everything in the company running smoothly. While these tools share many names such as ERP or CRM what these tools actually do can very massively. While the core of a tool remains the same in principle, changes in the type of business, the size of the business and the complexity of the system can produce very unique solutions.

Take fashion ERP for example; for a small store fashion ERP will likely consist of a simple stock management tool tracking deliveries and stock amounts to help keep things flowing smoothly. On the flipside, a large chain store may have a stock management system integrated across all of their store locations and warehouses providing a centralised hub of information as well as managing fashion logistics between warehouses and retail outlets.

Taking it even further; where a company may do their own manufacturing and design work, ERP systems can help manage supplies to each of the factories, manage deadlines in the factories and keep logistics of the clothes flowing all the way to the shelves while keeping all of the designs for the clothing centralised as well. This can sometimes even go as far as to allow minor modifications to designs on the clothing inside the ERP system, saving time and money on the design process.

So the scale of an ERP system can be very small or incredibly large and complex, while in essence they are performing the same basic function; keeping track of stock and helping deliveries flow more smoothly.

For this reason, when picking business management systems for you company you need to be sure that you pick a system which can work well and grow with your company adapting to your company’s needs. After all, everybody wants to be able to grow their business and see it thrive, but if you get stuck with an ERP or CRM system which can’t grow and keep up with your business it can soon start to become a hindrance rather than a helper, at which point you will need to find a whole new system, which may be costly to migrate data to. A far simpler solution is to use a robust business management system such as Microsoft Dynamics which can grow and change with your business providing integrated CRM and ERP solutions exactly as you need them.

Hedge Fund CRMs for Relationship and Marketing Management

Hedge fund CRM software gives hedge fund managers the ability to stay on top of current and future investors in the fund, improving their ability to manage investor relationship and market to new investors. With the ability to track, input and share data in real time throughout the business, businesses can react swiftly and decisively with the needs of their current and potential investors, allowing for a flexible approach that can boost efficiency and streamline processes.

Universal access to historic investor interaction allows departments to keep up to date with the latest investor information, cutting out the need for meeting after meeting, team briefing after team briefing. The old ways of investor management and contact lead to problems, increased downtime and lower efficiency. Brief notes scrawled out on a post-it in one employees drawer isn’t enough any more. We all know that the more we know about our clients, the better our communication and management of those relationships will be; the more responsive and profitable those relationships will be.

Automation and tracking can vastly improve investor relations, increasing the frequency of contact, ensuring everyone that needs to be contacted is at exactly the right time, with automated alerts and reminders.

Segmentation of investors into relevant groups can greatly improve the relevance of your communication with them. Email shots can be created that specifically target the needs of the investors in those segments. Relevant communication builds relationships better than generic one size fits all communications.

This is as true for investor relationship management as it is for hedge fund marketing – your marketing strategy can be segmented and automated to deliver relevant news, information and advice to potential investors as well as the company news, successes and health of the hedge fund as a whole. Getting the right marketing materials to the right potential investors is more important now than it ever has before, with the drop in value of hedge funds and investor reluctance to put money into hedge funds.

Hedge fund marketing software also gives the marketing department access to data detailing the success of each marketing effort, and future marketing campaigns can be shaped on historical successes and sent out to future investors. Tracking, reporting and analyzing the success of past campaigns can inform future success with marketing and improve your investor take up.

CRM software is beneficial in almost all aspects of business, and the same is true for the investment sector. Raising efficiency and improving the quality of relationships with your clients can streamline your workload, allowing you more time to work where it really matters.

Application Lifecycle Management and ERP

This is article looks at a high profile consulting implementation example of a new SOA (Service Orientated Architecture) system that involved not only the practical deployment but also expert skill in making everything come together. The benefits of what such a system could bring any business is limitless. I hope this helps to urge you and your company to go and invest in the future.
The client is a large communications infrastructure and media services company, operates at the heart of the broadcast, satellite and mobile communications markets. The company is at the forefront of network solutions and services in the digital world. The company provides much of the infrastructure behind television, radio, satellite and wireless communications in the UK and has a significant presence in Ireland, mainland Europe and the USA. Customers include major broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, BSkyB and the independent radio groups, major telecommunications providers, including the UK’s five mobile network operators, and the emergency services. Aims were:
Migration and consolidation of the bespoke National Grid Wireless (NGW) systems into the business’ existing Oracle eBusiness Suite to:
  • Standardise and optimise back office process methodology
  • Deliver an integrated set of services, able to work cohesively with line of business systems
  • Integrate peripheral NGW bespoke systems into the existing environment using Oracle SOA Suite and Application Integration Architecture (AIA)
  • Minimise the impact of the ERP consolidation programme on business operations to negate the complexity and inflexibility of traditional ERP integration methods
Business Challenge
Following an extremely large merger a few years ago, the business needed a complete migration and integration of bespoke systems into its existing Oracle eBusiness Suite which runs the company’s financial and commercial procurement ERP systems. Enterprise integration was a necessity. What was wanted was to incorporate some key peripheral systems into its environment, such as the NGW Keep System, which provides a master source of site data, including the management of key assets that are distributed across some 9,000 sites. These did not easily fit into the core Oracle suite, and required a middleware offering in the form of Oracle SOA Suite and AIA. Along with various BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) this was the scope of solution:
  • Requirements gathering
  • Process mapping
  • Software development services
  • Project management
  • Change management
  • Implementation
  • Data migration
  • Testing
  • Training and handover
  • Ongoing managed services
These were the solutions:
  • A business layer between all the ERP applications, rather than point to point interfaces and monolithic applications
  • Create an Information Bus and split out applications into component modules
  • Provide rich, pre-built applications for use in the Oracle eBusiness Suite
  • Enable to ability to reuse and componentise the application suite, increasing efficiency and reducing maintenance and foster better integration across the estate
  • Provide complete data migration from the existing bespoke systems into the new ERP estate
  • Minimise disruption and the impact of the ERP consolidation programme on day-to-day operations of the business

Investment in Wealth Management CRM Predicted to Rise

According to research conducted by the Aite Group (find it here), investment in CRM software in the wealth management industry is due to rise 8% over the next five years in the US alone, with a rise of $160 dollars between 2010 ($460m) and 2014 ($620m). The 2011 study surveyed 380 financial advisors, with varying positions to CRM in their sector.

Whilst almost a quarter of those surveyed either didn’t have a wealth management CRM solution or find one integral or necessary for their business, one third of those without a CRM solution stated that they would invest in a CRM solution if they had the budget for it.

45% of those advisers that did employ a CRM solution said they were keen to invest more in improving their solutions, and although the amounts they stated they would invest vary a great deal, we can take from that figure that investment in CRM will continue to rise, not only for new investors in CRM solutions, but for pre-existing CRM customers.

Aite Group puts this down to the fact that developers have learnt from the mistakes and bugs of past releases, stating in their report that:

 ‘Solutions today are easier to use, and include sales and service best-practice functionality that end users (or administrators) can more easily configure on their own to fit the firm’s or internal groups’, unique practices. In addition to greater ease of use and end-user functionality, solutions today include workflow tools that allow advisors to gain greater control of their processes.’

They also cite the fall in cost of cloud based and SaaS CRM solutions as a possible reason for the up shift in interest.

As CRM developers use lessons from the past to build improved solutions, improve functionality and streamline important business processes, CRM solutions will only continue to attract more attention and in turn, investment. With implementation costs falling and the ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) business model beginning to pick up steam, we predict that it won’t just be the wealth management industry that sees a rise in investment in the coming years.