Fresh Start, Familiar Face
ISS chose a familiar vendor for its CRM reimplementation, and that has made all the difference.
Posted Oct 25, 2002
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You've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.

That decision confronted Internet Security Systems (ISS), a $220 million global software and services company based in Atlanta, after its rapid growth outstripped the usefulness of it's existing CRM system, Onyx Customer Center 5.0. After a careful analysis, ISS decided that it did not pay to walk away. Instead of replacing its CRM vendor, ISS elected to reimplement Onyx's new, Web-based Employee Portal 3.0.

ISS originally implemented Customer Center in 1997. At that time ISS was a private company with 120 employees. It went public in 1998, posting $36 million in revenues. Four years later the company's success had spurred a six-fold increase in revenue and grew its workforce to 1,200 employees worldwide. Besides failing to keep pace with the company's growth, Onyx had not benefited from a smooth implementation process. "It was something that was not used, kind of piecemealed together, and never really had full corporate sponsorship," says ISS CIO Mike Starr.

John Gravely, president of Lys Solutions Inc., which served as the integrator on the Onyx reimplementation at ISS, says many companies fail to take a collaborative approach when implementing and managing CRM solutions. "If [someone] needed something, he walked to the Onyx administrator's cubicle and said, 'Put a button here.'" Gravely says. "After a while the system is a Frankenstein, with stitches here, a bolt through the neck there, and the thing doesn't work for anyone."

When Starr evaluated potential replacement systems last year he realized the conversion costs would be steep. "So, I wanted to have some ammunition in my back pocket," he says. Starr's pocket was soon stuffed with a 25-page report based on an audit of the company's existing CRM system, its utilization (and lack thereof), and the business processes that a new CRM solution should address. The audit, conducted by Gravely, ISS Business Analyst Regina Johnson, and a steering committee, was the key to deciding whether to remain with Onyx or migrate to another vendor.

"Surprisingly, we found that people were using [Customer Center 5.0] pretty effectively," Starr says. "There just weren't a lot of people using it." To remedy that condition on the reimplementation, Starr, Johnson, and Gravely used the information, complaints, and suggestion culled from the auditing process as the foundation the steering committee would stand upon during the reimplementation. The audit detailed a "future state" of CRM solution preferred by the user community and laid out a series of projects to achieve that state. One project, for example, is the assignment of a data analyst to monitor the overall health of the system's data. When the benefits of a new Web-based Onyx system were compared to the future state description, the advantages of remaining with Onyx became clear.

So far many of those benefits have been achieved. The new Onyx Employee Portal 3.0, with its sales, support, and marketing functionality, went live to 500 users this past April. Starr reports significant increases in user adoption (particularly among field sales reps), better forecasting due to a more reliable sales pipeline, and fewer errors due to redundant data entry. "With the previous system, inside and field [reps] working on the same opportunity would often enter their work as separate opportunities," Johnson explains. "We [then] had to correct that duplication, which would lead to inaccurate forecast reports. Now that's not an issue."

The upgrade has paid off, and the ace in that winning hand was the CRM audit, the emphasis on mapping technology to business processes and, to finding strategic supporters of the new system throughout the organization. "We're always looking for opportunities where someone says, 'This is going to make a huge difference to our business,'" Starr says. -- Eric Krell

The Payoff

Customer: Internet Security Systems
Challenge: Replace an underutilized CRM system
Vendor: Onyx


  • A more organized and better defined reimplantation has lead to a 45 percent to 50 percent increase in end-user adoption
  • Improved visibility into the sales pipeline has contributed more accurate revenue forecasting capabilities
  • Standardizing the 13 countries in the company's European operations on a single solution has lead to greater cooperation between their sales forces and fewer errors on global accounts
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