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Siebel user: CRM is 'a marathon'

The CIO at a large software firm running Siebel tells he isn't sure he'll ever reach the CRM finish line.

Even if you do everything by the book when implementing CRM, end-user adoption can be a sticking point.

That's one lesson learned by Parametric Technology Corp., a product life cycle management software vendor in Needham, Mass., which has rolled out software from Siebel Systems Inc. to its call center, sales force and marketing department.

"The technology works, and it works fine," said Steve Horan, PTC's senior vice president and chief information officer. "It does what it needs to do. The issue was adoption."

In 2001, PTC went live with Siebel 6.3 for account management, contact management and activities tracking. Despite the company's best efforts, Horan said, about one in five of its 1,000 sales reps resisted the move to SFA.

"Twenty-percent makes noise, and 20% is a problem," he said.

In fact, PTC did all the things that industry analysts say make for a successful implementation. Horan and the senior vice president of sales operations spearheaded the project with backing from the CEO.

PTC also created a CRM steering committee made up of 14 employees from IT, product development, global services, marketing and sales. The group still meets at least once a quarter and discusses the progress of CRM initiatives.

The company established firm ROI goals. One goal called for decreasing the time it takes a new sales rep to carry a full quota from six months to five.

Plus PTC bet heavily on the success of the rollout by cutting staff to pay for it. "So you'd better believe in the ROI and that the team running the thing can be successful," Horan said.

One strong consideration was to keep the implementation basic in an effort to bolster user adoption, Horan said. With fewer bells and whistles to master, it was decided that users would likely find the software less intimidating, he said.

Additionally, PTC invested heavily in training and required reps to pass an online exam before giving them Siebel seats. It also called in an outside auditor to review the rollout one year after going live.

PTC had plenty of experience rolling out CRM, with a history dating back to the mid-1990s.

In 1997, PTC deployed software from Scopus Technology Inc. in its call centers in the United States, Europe and Asia. When Siebel acquired Scopus, PTC upgraded to Siebel 6.2, heavily customizing it. In the summer of 2001, PTC went live with SFA. It upgraded the sales force to Siebel 7.5 this summer and also deployed its first Siebel marketing applications. All of this has left Horan with mixed feelings.

"Would I do it again? I'm not so sure," he said. "I consider this a technical success and a marginal ROI success."

Horan described the process as a "push" from management, rather than a "pull" from the staff. PTC thinks it can bolster end-user adoption by adding more features that will benefit sales reps, including opportunity screen enhancements and exception reporting.

Still, he said, if one executive isn't using the application, it disrupts forecasting for the entire organization.

Some of the resistance to adoption resulted from a lack of incentives for sales representatives, Horan now admits. Other issues included some reps' fear that managers were watching over them and, as with any company, there was heavy employee turnover in the sales department.

PTC also reports plenty of CRM successes. According to Horan, the company now has a better ability to see and understand forecasts. It can also get new reps up to quota faster and launch marketing campaigns more quickly. It's too soon to determine ROI on the marketing component, though, since it went live only a few months ago.

"We're running a marathon here, and we're over Heartbreak Hill," Horan said. "We're on those last six miles, and it's tough getting to the finish line."

More technology may help PTC complete its CRM run. The company has budgeted to upgrade its call center to Siebel 7.5 and is also considering investing in forecasting and quoting modules. Yet PTC is still taking a cautious approach to CRM.

"We haven't gotten to the fancy stuff," Horan said. "We don't want to bury the end user. No one uses everything you give them, so why pay for it? Why spend the time rolling it out?"

News editor Jon Panker contributed to this report.


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