In my last post 6 Steps to Develop an Enterprise Social CRM Strategy, I laid out an approach for developing an enterprise Social CRM strategy. In this post, I want to drill down a bit into step #2 from that post, Determine the Scope of Social CRM, and provide some details on how to undertake this important work at your organization.

It’s important to note right from the start that determining the scope of Social CRM does not mean gathering detailed requirements about what functionality Social CRM tools should deliver to end users or detailing exactly what will be done day-to-day in support of Social CRM at the organization. Rather, it’s about determining some key high-level characteristics of Social CRM that will inform the strategy you ultimately develop.

With that caveat in mind, let’s get started.

Social CRM Scope

Although you can think about the scope of Social CRM in a variety of ways, I’ve found the following three criteria the most useful:

  • Business application -- what business processes will be impacted by Social CRM? Some of the most important applications to date have been product development, customer service, marketing and sales.
  • Stand alone vs. integrated with core business systems -- how much integration (if any) will be required with other systems and applications, like ERP or CRM?
  • Internal vs. external audience -- who will be the end-users of the system (i.e., customers, suppliers, and partners or employees and contractors…or both)? Included in this is also the nature of the customer engagement you’re seeking to foster, i.e., is it one-to-one (as with customer service applications) or one-to-many (as with marketing applications)?

Select your Business Applications

The best way to start defining the scope of Social CRM at your organization is to think about what business applications need to be included, either because they are represented by project stakeholders or because they are business areas that are “on the radar screen” for Social CRM. Once you have this list, you can then begin determining where you stand on the other scope criteria.

The chart below lists out how the four most typical Social CRM business applications map to the other scope criteria.


This matrix is far from exhaustive, but can easily be expanded to include other applications that might be candidates for your Social CRM strategy. For example, a logistics company might add supply chain, which would have a high degree of expected system integration, one-to-one customer engagement and both internal and external potential audiences.

Once you have all the possible business applications on this matrix, you’re ready to use the matrix to surface the implications different combinations of business applications have for your emerging Social CRM strategy.

Determine the Implications for the Rest of Your Strategy

You begin by choosing which business applications you’d like to include in scope and then using the values in each column to determine the anticipated degree of system integration, the nature of customer engagement and the anticipated audience of the mix you’ve chosen. This gives the team responsible for the Social CRM strategy an initial thumbnail sketch of how complex the eventual solution will be, based on the mix of business applications included.

Let’s say that marketing and product development are potential in scope business applications. First, the team would know that integration with other systems will likely be low -- for marketing and product development, there typically aren’t line-of-business (LOB) systems in place that need to be connected to Social CRM tools; or if there are, they tend to be less complex than the systems in place for customer service, for example.

The team would also know that the nature of customer engagement would be one-to-many -- both product development and marketing efforts thrive on reaching a wide range of customers -- think of product development applications like Dell’s Idea Storm or Starbuck’s My Starbuck’s Idea and contrast them with or customer service systems, both of which are geared toward managing many one-to-one relationships.

Finally, the team would know that the audience for Social CRM tools could be either internal or external (or both) -- for marketing and product development, there are Social CRM applications that can improve how internal resources collaborate or how an organization gathers information from customers (or both).

Once this is complete, the team could then revisit the exercise with a different mix of business applications to see how the resulting strategy might be affected.

A Means to an End -- Not the End Itself

It’s important to remember that this exercise is meant to be a starting point, not an end point: all of these attributes about customers and integration will need to be fleshed out as the strategy develops based on organizational and project specifics.

For example, pharmaceutical manufacturers typically have extensive LOB systems in place to manage their product development lifecycle; so if their Social CRM strategy included product development, it would have to account for a high degree of system integration.

But even with this caveat in place, as a starting point for discussions of Social CRM scope, this matrix can be very beneficial. Most importantly, it makes Social CRM tangible from a business perspective, i.e., what job will Social CRM help us do better?

But it also makes the implications of Social CRM for operations and for the customer more apparent, i.e., how integrated does Social CRM need to be with existing systems and in what ways will it touch our customer base? Both of these increase the chances your Social CRM strategy will be a success at the organization.

Additional articles on Social CRM include: