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mySAP CRM replaces Vantive at manufacturing firm

Bowe, Bell + Howell selected mySAP CRM to replace an old Vantive system thanks to a site visit and the promise of integrating GPS.

For Ron Ridge, CIO of Bowe, Bell + Howell Co., a couple of site visits made a huge difference in his CRM selection process.

The Wheeling, Ill.-based maker of document management and postal software recently selected mySAP CRM for its field service staff, replacing an existing system from Vantive, a company that was bought by PeopleSoft and subsequently acquired by Oracle.

With SAP's mySAP ERP 4.7 already running on the back end, the decision to go with the Germany-based company's CRM application was a little easier, though Bowe, Bell + Howell isn't a full SAP shop.

"We're migrating that way," Ridge said. "When I entered the organization, we had all kinds of systems. Our strategic direction is to go to one common platform. We did evaluate other vendors, but the integration and capabilities made it an easy decision for us."


Although the company had some in-house expertise with the Vantive product, it was no longer a supportable system, according to Ridge. He wanted to move to a CRM system that needed less customization and supported the company's long-term vision. Bowe, Bell + Howell considered Siebel but ultimately decided on SAP thanks partly to the high-tech manufacturing functionality the application had embedded, as well as the business intelligence (BI) capabilities. Bowe, Bell + Howell is also rolling out the analytics and BI modules with CRM.

The company is rolling out portals and dashboards that will allow senior managers to drill down into information, replacing the roughly 200 reports that exist today. Eventually, that will extend to event-based reporting, which will trigger rules around acceptable service times for specific accounts.

Instrumental in the decision was a series of site visits Ridge and the executive vice president of service operations, John Tarascio, conducted as part of the review process.

"The site visits were very, very important," Ridge said. "We happened to hit one that matched our needs in terms of business intelligence and analytics. Seeing somebody leveraging the analytics and business intelligence module was vital."

Bowe, Bell + Howell is rolling out 1,300 seats of mySAP CRM, 1,100 of which will be used by the company's field service technicians, a project Ridge expects to last roughly 14 months. Once that is complete, the company will begin rolling out SAP's financials to the rest of the company and will ultimately extend CRM to sales and marketing as well.

A small steering committee and members of the board of directors joined Ridge and Tarascio in selecting SAP.

Bowe, Bell + Howell is also planning to integrate SAP CRM with its geo-spatial system (GPS). Its largest customers often have a technician on site. For many, the high-speed processing and sorting equipment is the largest piece of equipment they have. For others, on an ad hoc or materials service contract, Bowe, Bell + Howell dispatches technicians to the site, currently by phone. Once the CRM and GPS systems are integrated -- shortly after the go-live date -- customers can log in through the SAP portal, input the problem they have and the type of equipment they're running, and the closest field service technician with the correct certifications will be dispatched to the site.

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