Integrating sales and operations in the ‘design for service’ paradigm

The partnership between Siemens and Salesforce highlights the value from combining PLM and CRM for engineering, procurement, sales and marketing.

The value of connecting product innovation to consumers through engineering, procurement, sales and marketing feedback loops: exploring the handshake between PLM and CRM (Image: Salesforce and Siemens.)

The value of connecting product innovation to consumers through engineering, procurement, sales and marketing feedback loops: exploring the handshake between PLM and CRM (Image: Salesforce and Siemens.)

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is about connecting data threads across the business. This includes integrating feedback loops into the product development process with insights related to compliance, quality, financial performance, supply chain delivery, and customer. Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions are designed to help businesses effectively manage interactions and relationships with their customers throughout the acquisition process and product usage journey.

Connecting PLM and CRM to drive value

Combining insights from CRM data with PLM related processes, businesses gain a comprehensive understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviors throughout the entire service lifecycle. Product-service alignment ensures that product development is aligned with customer needs and preferences identified using CRM data. In this way, businesses can gain a comprehensive view of their customer’s journey, from initial inquiry to post-sales support.

This enables businesses to develop products that better meet market demand, prioritize changes based on customer feedback and provide a seamless service experience from initial inquiry to after-sales support. It’s a matter of strengthening collaboration: integrated data threads facilitate seamless communication and interactions between sales, marketing, product development and customer service teams. Connected data ensures that everyone is working with the same up-to-date information, fostering alignment and efficiency across departments.

With data-driven decision-making at its core, the integration of PLM and CRM systems empowers businesses to drive innovation, increase customer satisfaction and optimize sales and operations for long-term success. By combining CRM and PLM data, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and product performance. Such connectivity enables data-driven decision-making across departments, leading to more informed data strategies and better business outcomes—addressing business needs through cross-functional personas and complementary lenses across the enterprise, such as:

  • Engineering: How is the product performing within the wider portfolio?
  • Manufacturing: What product improvements can be implemented into iterative innovation, manufacturing and service cycles?
  • Procurement: How to optimize manufacturing and supply chain costs?
  • Finance: How are product development efforts amortized?
  •  Sales: How to generate new revenue streams from product and service data?
  • Services: How does the product perform in the field and how much maintenance is required?

Adopting a “design for service” approach

By leveraging data insights and fostering cross-functional collaboration, businesses can optimize sales and operations, increase customer satisfaction and achieve long-term success in a number of ways.

For engineering teams, PLM-CRM integration can provide valuable insights into how products perform within the wider portfolio, enabling them to make informed decisions about product development and innovation.

Manufacturing teams can leverage CRM and PLM data to implement product improvements into iterative innovation, manufacturing and service cycles, enhancing overall efficiency and quality.

Procurement teams benefit from PLM-CRM integration by optimizing manufacturing and supply chain costs through data-driven decision-making.

Finance departments can amortize product development efforts more effectively, while sales teams can identify new revenue streams from product and service data, driving business growth.

For service teams, PLM-CRM integration enables better understanding of how products perform in the field and how much maintenance is required, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Kerri Doyle, Senior Marketing Manager, Siemens Digital Industries Software, discussed in a Siemens blog post the importance of adopting a “design for service” approach to embed customer-centric feedback loops into product maintenance and sustainability requirements.

He also highlighted how design for service practices contribute to wider operational efficiency.

“PLM software manages information around the customer’s product, including design, engineering, and manufacturing data, how the product should be serviced and when, service requirements and service planning data with the right resources and skillsets, service documentation with rich 3D visuals and animations, service history, etc.,” Doyle said.

Leveraging customer-centric servitization

Interestingly, Siemens defines servitisation as “an outcome-based relationship based on service offerings that fit with your unique challenge and ultimately have a financial benefit.” The approach becomes even more relevant in asset-intensive industries focusing on increasing profitability and creating new revenue streams.

Customer-centric servitization revolves around placing the customer at the heart of business operations and offerings. It entails understanding the intricacies of customer needs, preferences and challenges through comprehensive data analysis and feedback mechanisms. By going beyond mere product sales, businesses embrace a holistic approach, offering a spectrum of services that complement and enhance the value of their products. These services span from installation and maintenance to personalized training and ongoing support, ensuring that every aspect of the customer experience is optimized for satisfaction and success.

In this model, personalization and customization play a pivotal role, as businesses tailor services to meet the unique requirements of individual customers. Through continuous engagement across the entire customer lifecycle, from initial consultation to post-sales support, companies foster long-term relationships and loyalty. Moreover, customer-centric servitization emphasizes value co-creation, involving customers in the design and refinement of products and services. This collaborative approach ensures that offerings evolve in tandem with changing customer needs, ultimately driving mutual success and satisfaction.

Central to customer-centric servitization is the commitment to measuring and enhancing customer satisfaction and impact. By consistently gauging customer feedback and evaluating the effectiveness of services, businesses refine their offerings to deliver maximum value and relevance. This iterative process not only strengthens customer relationships but also positions companies as trusted partners dedicated to meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Overall, customer-centric servitization represents a shift towards more customer-focused business models, where the customer journey is meticulously crafted to deliver growth through new revenue lines and differentiation in the market.

Beyond the recent Siemens and Salesforce collaboration announcement, other enterprise solutions—such as Propel Software which is directly built on the Salesforce platform—are also promoting value from connecting PLM and CRM.