ABOUT THE VENDOR
SAP is a provider of e-business software solutions. Today, more than 13,000 companies in over 100 countries run more than 30,000 installations of SAP software.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
Symbol Technologies, Inc., winner of the National Medal of Technology, provides mobile data transaction systems, providing customer solutions based on wireless local area networking for data and voice, application-specific mobile computing, and bar code data capture. Symbol's wireless information appliances connect the physical world of people on the move, packages, paper, and shipping pallets, to information systems and the Internet. Today, some 10 million Symbol bar code scanners, mobile computers and wireless LANs are utilized worldwide in markets ranging from retailing to transportation and distribution logistics, manufacturing, parcel and postal delivery, government, healthcare, and education.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
mySAP CRM supports customer interactions through all relevant channels -- mobile devices, telephony, and the Internet. And by providing analytical CRM capabilities and enhanced collaboration through portals and exchanges, the solution enables companies to manage customer relationships from an operational, analytical, and collaborative standpoint. mySAP CRM delivers a wide range of deployment options, working in both SAP and non-SAP environments.
SearchCRM: How many vendors did you look at?
Murrah: Because of the tight link that we required between our SAP ERP system and a forecasting system, we really worked only with SAP to expand the ERP system into a sales forecasting system. So we didn't go through any extensive vendor evaluation.
SearchCRM: Can you give me an overview of your entire CRM system?
Murrah: If we look at all the way from generating a lead to closing a sale... we currently use an outsourced lead, promotions, and campaign service. Those leads flow primarily into a PRM [partner relationship management] system. It has a Web-based front end that allows our partners to receive and report on leads and do other things they do in their business. So that's the front end piece to what many people would call CRM.
When it comes to managing a pipeline on the direct side, our direct sales people manage their opportunities through the SAP Mobile Sales environment. This includes keeping track of customers and customer contact information, forecasting products that will be bought and the pricing of those products, developing a quotation that can be given to the customer, and then noting when the business will be closed.
One of the pieces of that is selecting which product to sell to a customer. We have about 15,000 items that we sell -- hardware, software, accessories, services. We have a Web-based configurator that allows a sales person or partner or end-user customer to pick the right product for their system. The software for that is provided by Comergent.
Another piece of this puzzle is when the order is ready to be placed from either the partner or the end user. If it's in an assisted mode, it gets placed by one of our order administrators directly into the SAP ERP system. If it's done in a self service mode, we have a Web-based front end to SAP that we built using Haht Commerce software. People can then check on the delivery status of their orders through that Web front end.
So we have all these pieces in place, and SAP is the forecasting piece of that and a little bit of the contact management. Over the next few years we have to start pulling it all together a little more seamlessly from both the systems side and the business process side.
SearchCRM: How did the implementation of the SAP part go?
Murrah: Good -- we're just about fully rolled out. We were one of the first customers of SAP, so we had some early product issues to work through with them. They were very helpful to us.
I'd say in September of last year we completed our rollout in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, which is about 150 sales people. We've now completed the rollout in Singapore, which is another 50 or 60 people, and in May we'll complete the rollout here in the Americas, which is another couple hundred people. It's really going well. Our biggest issues would be in the area of change management with people -- learning to use a new application, answering all the questions.
SearchCRM: Did you experience any internal resistance?
Murrah: In the Americas we were using a product called K and V, and SAP bought them and replaced it with Mobile Sales, and stopped support for the old system, so we had to switch over to the new one. We were using something that wasn't too far from what Mobile Sales is, so they were already used to using a system. They just had to learn a different one.
Whereas in the rest of the world, they were using Excel spreadsheets and telephones and all the manual methods, so for them, all of a sudden, all the issues that arise when you go to a global visibility system come into play... like emotions that are associated with giving information about your full pipeline. You can imagine from a salesperson's point of view, they're used to keeping things very close to the vest -- and now they're being asked to put in a system that everybody else can see. That's a little uncomfortable. As time goes on they'll trust that nothing bad will come of it.
Management support was so critical. The country managers and the vice president who's in charge of that whole area of the world have been very adamant about the use of the system and the need of the data that come out of it.
SearchCRM: What kind of training did you have?
Murrah: We have a one-day session where we get about 15 salespeople in a room. We have a team that travels all over the world to do this. We also have a manual that we leave behind for future reference.
We've found that we have to have refresher training a few months later, because in that one day they can't absorb all the things they need to do.
Then we have two levels of support on an ongoing basis. First, within a sales geography we'll designate one person as what we'll call a super user. They are not technical, but they have a good understanding of how the system works. They end up being the first line of training and support for the salespeople in their area. Then we have a tier 2 person, who would be technical support. If a super user can't resolve something, they'll call this person and they'll fix the problem.
SearchCRM: Can you tell me how the forecasting piece works?
Murrah: It starts when the salesperson identifies an opportunity that they're going to work to close. They would enter the contact information about the customer into the system, and they would track the products that were going to be sold for that application, as well as the probability of closing it and a timeframe. That information flows to their sales management and also to our factory for developing a manufacturing build plan.
Our customer gives us short times to deliver and we have so many products that we have to be building the right things in our build pipeline in anticipation of getting these orders, otherwise we'd never be able to deliver on time.
SearchCRM: What has been the greatest result of the system so far?
Murrah: We can tell you that we have a lot of good anecdotes from our sales management, especially in Europe, where there was no system in place before. They're able to manage their financial forecasting as well as the input to the factory for their needs on a much more real-time basis. Anytime anybody needs to look into the system and see what's going on, they can. The feedback from our country management and our sales managers of being able to get their arms around their business has been great.
SearchCRM: Do you have any advice for other companies that are thinking of starting a similar project?
Murrah: Something we should have done differently was to map out the process from prospect to customer ahead of time and to do a better job of designing the business process and the systems together instead of focusing on one piece of it. So I'd say try to have the full picture in mind and try to have as much involvement as possible from all the different constituencies within the company, because it really touches everybody.
Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in April 2002