911 software maker integrates Salesforce.com CRM with GP accounting

An emergency response software seller needed a little help tying a new CRM platform to its inventory and back end systems.

An emergency response software company had grown so frustrated using internal standalone computer systems that it almost dialed 911.

InterAct sells software for emergency response systems used by fire and police departments, but its old in-house systems prevented any kind of internal connectivity. Desperate for help, the Winston-Salem, N.C., company recently implemented Salesforce.com CRM with the help of Scribe Software.

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The new CRM platform has already demonstrated time-saving efficiencies, none more important than the improved process that enables InterAct to sell product licensing in a matter of hours, a transaction that took several weeks with the old systems.

“It was overdue,” said Paul Kielty, chief information officer for InterAct.

Started in 1975, InterAct sells and maintains public safety, corporate security and homeland security systems technology. With about 250 employees, the company provides public safety incident response and management software to more than 1,450 clients at local, state, federal and international agencies.

InterAct had progressed without much tinkering to its internal systems, said Kielty, who joined the company in November.

“When I came here … there was no connectivity,” he said. “What I wanted to do was convert to a more industry-standard system that would connect to everything so we could enhance our automation.”

InterAct had standalone systems for its finance and customer databases and had developed its own databases -- using open source MySQL -- for sales, projects and other data. Disparate systems simply didn’t work well with InterAct’s complicated sales processes.

 “You need to create efficiencies in the system so that you don’t have eight people touching the order,” Kielty said. “You’ve got to get that order out.”

Before implementing Scribe Software and Salesforce.com, orders would take an inordinate amount of time to process. A project would come in and as many as 14 days later the customer would get it, he said.

New platform leads to automated inventory, sales
Not long after starting at InterAct, Kielty realized the company needed a new CRM system. Interact chose Salesforce.com CRM because it could get data “efficiently” and “accurately” to people throughout the organization, he said.

It also needed to integrate that Salesforce.com data with its other internal systems. InterAct selected Scribe Software, a Manchester, N.H., company, because it “could quickly find the integration points” between the old systems and Salesforce.com.

InterAct couldn’t afford to “stop traffic to put in new roads,” as Kielty put it. Shifting internal systems at InterAct would have no direct bearing on any emergency calls by municipalities or the communications of private firms. A new CRM platform would affect the back end.

But any lengthy downtime to internal systems would eventually disrupt customers’ systems, according to Kielty. The emergency response systems that InterAct works with are complex and require time to implement and train employees, he said.

Salesforce.com has started to “drive” large and complex software orders, which feature significant documentation, into a main system. Before, they would lag in the pipeline as several employees transferred information from system to system, Kielty said. Those orders also fit into the existing Great Plains accounting system.

Large orders still take about the same amount of time to process, Kielty said. The only sales process that quickened is software licensing transactions. But instead of also taking two weeks to process, those now take only a few hours.

The clear benefit to implementing a new CRM platform is that data entry has become easier and requires fewer employees, he said.

Now, “with the push of a button,” the CRM system shows several screens displaying the status of an order and accompanying inventory information, two functions that previously would have had to be done separately, he said.

“It immediately sees it in Salesforce,” Kielty said. “It’s low time, quick and easy.”

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