Is Enterprise Relationship Planning the New ERP?

I’ve been toying with this idea for a while, and I think it’s starting to stick. More and more I’m seeing that the most critical business problems to be tackled today in the enterprise center around enabling and improving the myriad relationships — inside the firewall, outside the firewall, and all points in between — that make key business processes come to life. This can be as simple as organizing the sales cycle, a classic CRM function, or something more complex like linking a complex external ecosystem to itself (your external marketplace) and then tying that ecosystem closely to the different stakeholders in the company who are in charge of optimizing that eco-system (channel and partner managers, sales and service managers, procurement and supply chain managers, etc. etc.).

This complex web of external relationships tied closely to internal stakeholders is made all the more valuable by the growing presence of external communities of interest and the unstructured data and processes that they use in their day-to-day lives. These communities can be made up of customers, or external contractors, or suppliers, all of which need to be carefully managed by the individual stakeholders whose job it is to keep the ecosystem alive and providing competitive advantage. It’s a many-to-many matrix of interactions and relationships that craves new software and business processes in order to get it right.

This explains the enormous growth in CRM sales, far out-pacing the sales of classic ERP. It also explains the value of tools like Microsoft Dynamics xRM, which extends the CRM model to handle the non-customer relationships in the new ERP. It also defines the opportunity of companies like RelayWare, which is carving out the partnership relationship management space with this goal in mind. And it defines a clear path to integrate social media — like Facebook — and new on-line sales and marketing sites with classic enterprise processes.

This new ERP opportunity represents an excellent way to organize enterprise business planning, and as such requires something other than classic ERP software, which focuses on resources, not relationships. There are a lot of ways to solve the problem, but the main order of business is to look beyond traditional resource planning towards the greater challenge of relationship planning. Considering the fact that collaborative software has so far mostly shown us how poorly our collective skills at collaboration are, I believe the challenge of enterprise relationship planning will be with us for a long time to come.

4 thoughts on “Is Enterprise Relationship Planning the New ERP?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Is Enterprise Relationship Planning the New ERP? « Enterprise Matters --

  2. Hi Josh

    Very interesting. We use a concept of responsibility management. A user can self-declare responsibility for certain data or metrics. When something in their ‘reponsibility’ is out of tolerance they will receive an alert. They user can also set warning and alert tolerances. The alert includes a link to a view that displays the data or metrics out of tolerance. From there they can create a scenario to investigate a course of action to remedy/respond to the issue and invite others to join the scenario to collaborate on the resolution. Other people – name, rank, serial number – that are affected by the changes made in the new scenario are identified and can be invited to join.

    Clearly there is user access control so the user can only self-declare responsibility for the data to which they have access.

    Do you see any convergence between ‘social media’ concepts and enterprise applications? So much of cross-functional or cross-enterprise planning is about consensus buildign and compromise, yet the data that is exchanged if ‘hard’, it have no nuance or relative importance associated with it. All all the purchase orders we are asking the supplier to deliver of equal urgency? Will one have a bigger impact on our operations than another? Can we split the delivery?

    This information is not contained in EDI messages or other B2B data exchange concepts. This information is conveyed in emails or telephone calls. Why not capture both the structured data and unstructed information in a collaboration environment?


  3. Great insight, recognizing the importance of relationships and collaboration inside organizations. In the past, managing resources was key. Today, as the next stage of evolution, connection and communication are requirements for success.

    Thanks for writing this post.

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