Article

Logistics.com adds CRM to its packing list

Christine M. Campbell, Assistant News Editor

The customer service and professional services groups at Logistics.com needed a way to keep customer information in one central location. The Burlington, Mass.-based shipping and transportation technology provider also wanted to become a more customer-centric organization.

Logistics narrowed its options to three vendors, Onyx Software Corp., Remedy Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc. The Bellevue, Wash.-based Onyx stood out due to three main factors. First, Onyx seemed to focus on smaller companies like Logistics, said Ray Loehner, senior vice president of operations at Logistics. Onyx's software, Onyx Enterprise 2001, was flexible enough to grow with the company. In addition, the price was competitive, he added.

After six weeks, phase one of the CRM program was complete at Logistics. The company implemented the Onyx software and trained its employees on it. Logistics then built some of the business processes to be automated. Logistics initially focused on customer service, sales and marketing, and plans to train other departments on the software, according to Loehner.

"We didn't want to overbuild up front. We wanted to start with Onyx in its basic form," prioritizing the most important functions, Loehner said. This allowed Logistics to have the system running in six weeks.

Logistics attributes the successful implementation to several factors. In the CRM project's inception, senior level management was involved in the planning. Each department also had a

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contact person involved in the design of the system. The contact person then trained employees in his department to use the new software, he said.

"Implementation is tough if the whole company doesn't buy in," Loehner added.

Logistics found that it was possible to stick to its rigorous implementation schedule, even with small problems. Its third-party consulting firm, Breakaway Solutions, is partially responsible for that success. Having senior management, including the CEO, involved in the project ensured a low tolerance for excuses, he said.

Employees posed the biggest challenge to the implementation. The software needed to be installed on remote workers' computers, and those workers needed training on the new system. Logistics ended up flying its employees into its headquarters in groups, Loehner said.

Cost savings and ROI haven't been measured for the new software, because Logistics is still in the first phase of its rollout, but the company does plan to measure it in the future. Loehner has noticed an increase in productivity and efficiency from the software, however. For example, the sales department knows how customer service has interacted with a client.

Saving money was not really a factor in choosing Onyx, however. "What we wanted to gain is better control over our relationships with customers. We looked at the needs of the customers and how to better serve them," Loehner said.

Companies hoping to replicate Logistics' implementation should understand their business processes before shopping for software, Loehner said. They also need to get 100% of the company behind the initiative and shop around for the software, rather than settling on the first package that comes along.

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