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November 1, 2005
Dennis Gartin, senior vice president, business application support, as told to Colin Beasty
Why CRM? We had been using another helpdesk package for a few years and found a number of negatives with it that prompted us to open a project to evaluate other packages and find a replacement. It was very expensive to maintain. We were paying an annual maintenance fee of approximately $400,000 a year. We had tremendous upgrade costs when new versions of the software were released, both in hardware and consulting. The last upgrade, from version six to seven, cost us over $2 million. Second, we needed a large IT staff to maintain the application. We had a staff of four full-time developers and four functionality developers. Every change we made to the old software required substantial programming expertise, so we were married to a package that required a heavy IT infrastructure. Third, we wanted to have the ability for our employees to go through a Web portal and log their problems through that instead of having to sit on a phone and wait for a live person. We were being charged per license for the Web portal, which totaled between $1 and $2 million per year. In addition, we weren't receiving good feedback from the end users. It had all the bells and whistles, but was too complex. The straw that broke the camel's back was that the vendor wasn't responsive to our needs. We had some issues that needed to be addressed, and it seemed like they were more interested in selling us more software instead of making sure we were happy with what we had.
How did you select a vendor? We began a replacement project that had certain objectives. We wanted a simple interface for the users, with an employee Web portal that could support 30,000 internal employees without licensing fees based on each employee. We wanted a less costly solution to buy and maintain, and we were looking for some robust reporting and analytics in this package. We went through a list of all the helpdesk software packages we could buy, which included Heat, Tech Excel, Microsoft CRM, PeopleSoft, and Remedy. At the end of the day, the committee in charge of selecting the program chose Tech Excel, hands down.
How did the implementation go? The implementation went very smoothly. With the first vendor the project took between seven to nine months, and was rather painful. In Tech Excel we found immediate user acceptance and a low learning curve associated with end-user training. The software was very easy to configure and manage, so we didn't have the need for a lot of custom program testing and system recompiling. In addition, Tech Excel was very responsive in making sure we were successful. Also, our total implementation cost, including hardware and software, was about one year's annual maintenance for the previous product. Also, their Web portal came as included functionality. We can use it for as many employees as we want. Overall, the implementation took about three to four months; the nationwide rollout took about six months total. It went very quickly.
What have been the main rewards? We've had excellent performance and great stability for the past year we've been using Tech Excel. End users have noticed response times are 10 to 15 times faster than the previous helpdesk package. We have 22,000 employees actually using the Web portal to log instances. The helpdesk has calculated approximately 330 hours of savings per month because of not having to deal with emails, as employees can now go through the Web. In terms of customization we've made some changes to the software package, but because of the administration piece of Tech Excel the change is made instantly or over the course of a week, as opposed to months. Plus, there's the cost savings we've realized from making the switch to Tech Excel.
It's not a popularity contest. Just because a vendor is popular doesn't mean it's the best. Do your research and see what functionalities the smaller vendors offer. Many times, the smaller companies are more nimble and can more easily meet your needs.
Find a CRM vendor that practices what it sells. If a company sells software for CRM, that means they should be good at it, right? Not necessarily. Find a vendor with a strong customer-oriented style. It is there to meet your needs. Having a responsive vendor will make your life that much easier down the road.
Simple is better. Companies often integrate systems that are too complex for their needs. Make sure to correctly identify needs and select a solution that addresses them, and that doesn't overload end users.
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