Vodafone reseller opts for SaaS CRM

System allows company to focus on sales rather than compliance

Don’t be dogmatic about processes, advises DigitalMobile’s chief operating officer, Justin Lobb.

The Vodafone reseller has just rolled out Salesforce.com’s SFA (sales force automation) for its CRM functions, claiming huge productivity gains for the software as a service (SaaS) project.

DigitalMobile employs 600 staff across 60 locations and previously used Excel spreadsheets to help prepare sales reports. But, says Lobb, this method gave inconsistent sales reports and was unable to provide historical information. The system was also time-consuming when it came to preparing sales reports for Vodafone.

“We spent too much on compliance rather than getting sales,” he says.

Last year, DigitalMobile went looking for a fully-integrated application that would integrate CRM functionality through Windows. Microsoft CRM was the first choice.

However, explains Lobb, the quote obtained through a Microsoft reseller was too expensive, requiring work on existing infrastructure and taking 8-10 months to implement.

The company then looked at Salesforce.com and began evaluating it alongside Microsoft, noting a Microsoft implementation would have meant everyone had to be on the same domain or have access to DigitalMobile’s domain to deliver a solution.

As a software as a service solution, the hosted Salesforce.com product also did not require everyone to be on the same VPN. With DigitalMobile using franchisees; using just an internet browser, to access and deliver data, was much simpler and easier.

“We also did not have to change our infrastructure. Our IT department was not involved in the roll-out,” Lobb says.

DigitalMobile used a sales staffer and a business analyst, who then trained company staff to handle the new system, which was modified slightly to fit the company’s operations.

Development started in February 2007, with the roll-out the following July.

Since then, the sales team find four times as many sales leads, reporting complexity is reduced, sales targets are more easily tracked and the sales team is more motivated, Lobb says.

Initially, Salesforce SFA was just used for B2B sales activities but has since been extended nationally into retail stores and now includes a “proposal generator” function.

A customer portal, due for launch in April, will also allow customers to change their details and manage their mobile phone operations online.

Lobb says the SaaS system has been well-received by staff, who are unconcerned their data is hosted externally. They also like the fact they can easily use the system while on the road or working from home.

While installation presented no challenges, licensing for the hosted system does, as Salesforce.com has many different pricing mechanisms. Rates also differ for internal partners or franchisees and newer versions of the system may lose functionality.

“It makes it hard for us to do a budget,” he explains. Looking back, though, Lobb says he would not have done the project any differently.

One success factor was analysing processes, he says. DigitalMobile spent $20,000 reviewing these.

“We looked at that and said none of the processes are precious. All we need is the outcome,” he says. “The success or failure of IT projects is not to be dogmatic. Why do I need it ?” he adds.

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