Headlines: August 4th, 2004

Customer relationship management systems, which bring together customer records to a single point are not delivering the predicted benefits for telephone or personal callers. A survey by NDL Ltd found that many councils are using CRM systems as a call logging facility rather than as a business efficiency tool. Integrating existing systems with a new CRM system is proving a major challenge. The difficulty lies in the need to re-engineer the processes and in many cases to re-structure the organisation to support new ways of working.The survey also found a cultural barrier to making radical changes necessary to get significant benefit from CRM systems. The researchers found that in the traditional council environment staff have become used to a particular way of working and, even discounting the concern that technology may replace jobs, there is the fear of learning new computer systems and business processes.

Another factor which affects the motivation for change is that some councils are introducing CRM systems to comply with what is perceived as a Central Government mandate rather than looking at the full transactional efficiencies traditionally associated with e-Business. In addition, none of the respondents to the survey mentioned cost savings as a potential benefit from a CRM system, which is in stark contrast to motivation in the private sector.

Over half the councils in the UK have yet to install a CRM system, but only 3% of councils interviewed had no current plans to install a system at all. County Councils and Metropolitan Borough Councils are slightly ahead with more systems installed than yet to install.

The most popular choices of suppliers amongst those who have adopted CRM systems are Oracle and Northgate, but some councils have chosen to develop their own bespoke systems.