If customer data holds the key to success, the tough task of consolidating all of an enterprise's information keeps many businesses from achieving it.
Data consolidation was the challenge facing Sarasota, Fla.-based World Precision Instruments (WPI), a manufacturer of lab equipment used in nerve, skin and muscle research. The company offers more than 1,500 products to the scientific community, including micro-dissecting instruments, adjustable pipettes and binocular microscopes. The business has an interesting CRM challenge in that it sells supplies and equipment to many hospitals, universities and other large institutions. But within those institutions are many individual customers that WPI wants to reach with its CRM efforts, via mass mailings, catalogs and follow-ups. In order to do this, everyone in the company -- from sales to manufacturing to customer service -- needs access to the same updated information.
The company had been using ACT from Interact Commerce Corporation (formerly SalesLogix) to manage its contact database and account information, as well as a DOS-based program for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs. According to Petra Adamson, systems administrator at WPI, the process was very inefficient, mostly because of how her company was using the tools internally. "You would have to place an order through one system and then have to re-enter all that information into the other system so that the other half of the company could have that
WPI decided to overhaul its technology.
It found new ERP software in Syspro's Impact Encore to take care of everything on the back end, such as inventory, shipping and receiving. WPI then set out to replace its customer service software.
The most important criteria, said Adamson, was good support. "We wanted somebody that could answer our questions quickly and easily -- that was our main thing. Somebody that we could count on anytime we had a problem."
The team at WPI liked the AdaptCRM software from Irving, Calif.-based Adapt when they saw a demo of it and found that it worked very well with the ERP system from Syspro. And, the fact that the distributor they eventually purchased it from was local was a big plus. WPI paid around $20,000 to license the software and began the implementation process.
Adamson said that the most challenging aspect of implementing the new CRM system has been the huge task of cleansing WPI's data and converting it from the two former databases. The company had people from Adapt and the distributor, as well as internal staff, working on converting data from the old system and bridging the new CRM system with the ERP system from Syspro.
"We have been dealing a lot with the way our data is, as opposed to what the system does," Adamson said. "We're learning to use it, we're learning the features, and we're trying to adapt our data to it so that we can utilize all the features that CRM has. But the biggest bump is the way the data goes in there. Once we have that all straightened out, we'll be able to use it a lot better."
When the new system is fully functional, AdaptCRM will interact with Encore to eliminate double entry and keep every user on the same page with current data. Employees at WPI will be able to perform mail merges, set call backs, schedule interoffice reminders and more. "The customer side of our business will know what's happening on the production side and the service side and vice versa," said Adamson.
WPI has been live with the Adapt software for a month and a half and is still just in the process of unifying and cleaning its data, but Adamson says they've already seen some reward in that the whole company has a sense of unity now. "Every department now has the same view, we all have access to the same information, we can all relate."
While Adamson isn't sure how quickly WPI will achieve ROI, she feels the new software will help it better communicate with customers. WPI wants to be able to look beyond who's paying the bills in large universities and hospitals and reach the end users of their products, such as scientists, doctors and professors. A new unified CRM and ERP system will give every WPI employee the same complete view of the customer and help the company target end users for mailings and other promotional methods.
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