Involvement of CRM during the life-cycle of a project: case study
4.1. Description of Methodology
4.1.1. Research Purpose.
There are many ways to carry out a research. According to Reynolds (1971), Patel and Tebelius (1987), Aaker and Day (1990), Yin (1994) and Wiedershein – Paul and Eriksson (1999), here are three available classifications of research: exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory.
Exploratory research: research is designed to allow an investigator to just “look around” to some phenomenon, with the aim being to develop suggestive ideas (Reynolds, 1971). The purpose is to collect as much information as possible for a specific problem.
Descriptive research: the purpose of descriptive research is to develop empirical generalizations, and since they appear, they worth explaining which leads to theory development (Reynolds, 1971). Furthermore, descriptive research is used when a problem is well structured and there is no intention to examine relations (Wiedeshein-Paul and Eriksson, 1999).
Descriptive research is recommended when there is the need to search data in order to analyze few aspects of a well structured issue (Aaker and Day, 1990).
Explanatory research: the aim here is to develop precise theory that can be used to explain the empirical generalizations (Reynolds, 1971). According to Yin (1994), the research may be explanatory when there is a cause-effect relationship; in order to explain what causes produced these effects.
A high level of flexibility characterizes the explanatory research approach, while it is suitable when a problem is difficult to discriminate.
The research purpose of this thesis is primarily descriptive, but also exploratory and explanatory as well. The purpose can be characterized as descriptive since the author’s intention is to analyze the area of research and draw some conclusions from the collected data.
At the same time, the research is also exploratory, while the aim is to collect as much information as possible for a specific issue. When the author starts to answer to the research questions and explain the relationships of causes and effects of this problem, this thesis can be partly classified as explanatory.
4.1.2. Research Approach.
The research approach is either quantitative or qualitative. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses and neither one of them can be detained as better than the other.
A quantitative approach implies the search for knowledge that will measure, describe and explain the phenomena of our reality (Patel and Tebelius, 1987). Quantitative research is usually associated with the natural science mode of research; data is quantitative, attained from samples and observations seeking for relationships that can be expressed in numbers rather than words.
Qualitative research is the search for knowledge in order to investigate and understand the phenomena from an inside perspective (Patel and Tebelius, 1987). Moreover, according to Yin (1994) qualitative research is related to studies where the aim is to receive information and obtain a deep understanding of the search problem.
As a result of the aforementioned, this thesis is a qualitative research. This research is seeking for answers that cannot be quantified or measured in numbers. As long as the purpose of this thesis is to gain a better understanding of the importance of CRM, a qualitative approach is the method that suits best.
4.1.3. Data Analysis.
The crucial goal of analyzing data is to face the facts fairly, to produce analytical conclusions, and to rule out alternative explanations. Before actually data can be analyzed, the author carrying out a case study, can choose between two general analytical strategies: relying on theoretical propositions or developing a case description (Yin, 1994).
Relying on theoretical propositions is the most common strategy. The collected data are based on research questions from previous studies, and the results of the present study will be compared from the previous. Developing a case description can be used as strategy as well, but mostly when little previous research has been accomplished.
A lot of research has been accomplished within this area of research and therefore the analytical strategy of this thesis relies on theoretical propositions.
4.1.4. Research Strategy.
According to Yin (1994), there are five research strategies in the social sciences: experiments, surveys, archival analysis, histories and case studies. Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages depending on the following conditions:
- The type of the research question posed
- The extent of the control the investigator has over actual behavioural events
- The degree of focus on contemporary/historical events
- The following table represents these conditions in the three columns and shows how each of the five strategies are related with them.
Table 2 : Situations for different research strategies
|Research Strategy||Form of Research Question||Requires Control over Behavioural
|Focus on Contemporary
Source: Yin 1994, pp. 6.
The purpose of this study is to give a better understanding of the importance of CRM. Due to this fact there is not any required control on behavioural events. This excludes the experiment as a research strategy. Moreover, the author wants to describe how the organizations should manage their relationships with customers nowadays.
This leads to the fact that the history strategy is not appropriate either. Surveys and archival/analysis are advantageous when the scope of the research is to describe the incident of a phenomenon or when it is predictive about certain outcomes (Yin, 1994). This is not what this thesis will describe, so the only remained research strategy is the case study.
4.2. Case Study: Themelio Software Company
One of the main reasons that exhorted the author to expand the CRM through this thesis is her work position as manager on the sales department on the Themelio Software Company. Her work experience determined her that the involvement of CRM during the life-cycle of a project is significant, while it is one of the main factors that can lead the project to success.
Themelio Software has been activated in software development since 1989, especially for constructors of aluminum, PVC and rolling shutters. Until to date, Themelio Software has computerized more than 3,000 companies in Greece and abroad, while it offers pioneer services.
After a long-year expertise and co operations with the greatest companies in the aluminum industries of Greece, Themelio is able to offer a complete pack of services and products to all the aluminum constructors, providing superior quality and high technology.
Themelio has two main objectives for its customer relationships, which are not broken down into any specific detailed CRM objective. The CRM objectives are more or less general and CRM is more included as a natural part of Themelio’s strategy, an important part of company’s marketing and communication process.
The objectives are ease of use and low price. However, there are other issues of importance, when it comes to the organization’s customer relationships. To build and maintain relationships it is very important to make the customers loyal to Themelio.
To improve the organization’s knowledge about its customer is also of great importance for Themelio, while by improving this knowledge the company will be able to offer products that are more in line with the customers’ needs. This, also, helps the marketing efforts while the company knows what the customer wants and searches for that.
This makes the stocks smaller and the stock holding becomes more effective. For all these reasons, the company has placed to these work positions qualified people, able to manage the relationships with the customers and not technical experts.
All the aforementioned can be characterized as the general plan of CRM of the company and its objectives can be represented in the following template:
Table 3 : Within case analyze of Themelio’s CRM objectives
|Importance of CRM objectives||Minor||Medium||Major|
|Cost Saving Objectives|
|Decreased general sales and marketing
|Reduce cost of sales||X|
|Increase sales representative
|Revenue Enhancement Objectives|
|Better information for better
|Acquiring new customers||X|
|Strategic Impact Objectives|
|Improved customer satisfaction rates||X|
|Improve global forecast and pipeline
|Service helps organizations to delight
|Service helps org. differentiate their
|Improving channel management||X|
|Establishing relationships with
In an effort to analyze the Software Development Life Cycle, per Muench (see chapter 3) and through her empirical knowledge from her workplace environment, the author determined the crucial role of CRM during the project life cycle.
It is general believed that correct and frequent customer input is essential for a successful software project. If the project team doesn’t get the right requirements at the design phase, it doesn’t matter how well they will execute the rest project, the result will be undesirable.
Knowing who your customers are, what their environment is, and what their needs and expectations are, gives to the company all the required information to plan and design a project. Customer input is doubtful unavoidable. Software teams that products without talking to customers do not successfully stay away from input.
They just receive the input after the release of the product, in the form of bad news, lost sales and broken contracts. These things cost to the companies their reputation, revenues and development time. As long as customer input cannot be unavoidable, the company must manage it.
Managing customer input means making sure that the company is getting the right form of input, at the right time and from the right person. All these factors are of equivalent importance for successful customer input on a product.
The purpose of every software development project is to construct a product that provides value to the customers. Effectual requirements definition enables the project team to determine the mix of product capabilities and characteristics that will best carry this customer value.
Effectively exploring and crafting requirements into a set of product features and attributes helps to ensure customer needs and expectations are being met throughout the project life cycle. Moreover, the organization reduces software defects because the development team has a better understanding of the requirements and work on that.
Finally, the evaluation of the project is made from the final user, the customer. Project success can be translated into customer satisfaction. Only if the project meets customer’s needs, wants and desires can be characterized as successful. As we already mentioned, the projects should not be regarded as isolated from previous projects, projects are connected somehow.
That means that the accomplishment of one project is able to win customers’ loyalty and create long-term relationships with the company.
It is obvious that the main reason for CRM involvement during the project life cycle is to increase the probability that the project’s outcome will be according to the customer’s requirements and expectations. CRM involvement is clearly one of the most important factors that contribute to an efficient and smooth transfer of the project outcome to its users.