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September 1, 2005
Tim Arthur, global director of management information systems at Alltech, as told to Colin Beasty
Why CRM? Alltech has a global data center here in Nicholasville, Kentucky. We were centralizing our offices to our data center in Nicholasville, and faced a number of issues. The priority was consistency of data--our offices were operating on different platforms, and we needed a way to access the data in our systems. We needed to implement a solution that would enable everybody within the organization, throughout the world, to have a real-time view into our business processes. Our primary product, enzymes and proteins for animal feed, has a short shelf life. Supply chain management became very important. Second, when a salesman who worked for our company left, we would lose the customer relationship information that salesman had with his clients. He was an investment for us, and we felt we weren't getting a good return on those investments by losing the information. Also, we had redundant customer information within our databases--mailing addresses for a single customer listed, three, four, even ten times.
What were some of your key criteria for selectinga vendor? We evaluated Exact Software's e-Synergy alongside Siebel Systems. We needed an application that would standardize all our offices and provide information to us in real time. With offices in 83 countries, acquiring multilingual software was especially important. In the end we decided on Exact Software's e-Synergy. We were already using Exact's Macola for our back-office ERP needs, so rather than buying a new enterprise system to connect our offices, we opted to create a standardized system using the Macola model. Being able to integrate that CRM solution into our MRP/ERP solution was critical.
How did the implementation go? Extremely well. We had it deployed in three months, and the ease of implementation brought about another added benefit: Because our offices are located in so many countries, being able to get e-Synergy up and running quickly in any office around the world, such as Slovakia, was very important. Everything runs off our master server here in Nicholasville. When we start up in a new country, we can go from beginning to end in as little as two weeks.
What have been the main rewards? The availability of real-time information has streamlined the company's business processes. We're dealing with one source, one database on a global stage. Being able to view our supply chain allows our managers to track inventory levels and shift supplies from site to site if one warehouse is depleted or a product is nearing its expiration date. We don't have duplicate customer information anymore. And the ease of setting up e-Synergy was important. We had all our computers stolen from one of our Latin American offices. Within 24 hours we had the office back up and running. We were able to purchase some laptop computers the next day and set things up via the Internet. We had a similar situation with our Indonesian office. It was located next to the Australian embassy--that was blown up and destroyed.
What are your next steps? We're getting more heavily involved in the business management side of things. We have just recently deployed a business analytics solution from Exact Software. It's been a huge success so far in allowing us to run all of our sales, production, and inventory figures on an hourly basis. We're attempting to cut remote offices' storage levels from three months' to two months' worth. This will provide us with significant savings in worldwide cash outlays.
CRM is about people, not just technology. People are the key to every CRM implementation, and successfully managing them will determine success or failure. Just like outsourcing, understanding cultures throughout the world is critical for global CRM success.
It's about quality, not quantity. Having all the people in the world doesn't guarantee success. The quality of CRM users is much more important than the quantity.
Stick with what you know. By using the same vendor for both your ERP and CRM solutions, you create a standard footprint and a single source of answers for unexpected problems and growth.
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