Monster.com roars ahead with CRM

In its first attempt, Monster.com laid a CRM egg. But persistence paid off and now the Web job board's vice president of business applications is extolling the virtues of CRM

BOSTON -- Monster.com's first CRM efforts failed miserably the first time around, but that didn't stop the Maynard, Mass.-based Internet job board from sweeping away the wreckage and implementing the software again. The good news about CRM is that it's worth the effort and cost, said Ned Liddell, vice president of business applications, in his keynote here at DCI's CRM Conference and Exposition.

Monster has learned that CRM is a large investment, is challenging to implement, requires a substantial team of people and is never really finished, he said.

In 1998, Monster rolled out Siebel software, using its own internal support team. This launch was notoriously unsuccessful, Liddell said.

After 6 months of internal planning, in November 1999, Monster was ready to try another rollout of Siebel. It took three months to implement the core elements of the software, "which Oracle did," he said. This time, Monster used Siebel professional services and consulting services from Akibia to get their CRM program up and running.

Over the next five months, Monster installed their order and inventory systems. In the past four months, Monster has successfully upgraded to Siebel 6.0.

Monster learned from its implementations that building a CRM system takes a phased approach, the right technology partners, a strong internal team and the support of senior management, Liddell said.

"Monster is a big company, and it was nice to hear how it used and deployed CRM," said Christine Sales, telemarketing manager at Westboro, Mass.-based Nugenesis Technologies. Deploying CRM is often a company's biggest concern, and the way Monster implemented their software in phases was helpful to learn about, she added.

Because Liddell is an engineer, he lent the perspective of someone who actually has to support internal clients on the CRM system, said Ken Raifman, manager of client services, at Needham, Mass.-based Tower Group.

"He was very honest about the challenges of CRM and the mistakes Monster made, and that's more important than hearing the successes," he said.

However, not all attendees found Monster's story usable, as was the case with Hal Eskenazi, president of New York-based Profiles Worldwide. Monster did help in understanding the complexity involved in a CRM implementation and how to pull sales, marketing and service departments together, though, he said.

"If you don't have buy-in (from the different departments), it's not going to work," Eskenazi said.

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