Tony Serignese had a front-row seat when Brother International Corp. rolled out SAP R/3 in 1995. It took two years and a ton of staff time, which tainted SAP's reputation among employees.
But today Brother International is a satisfied and enthusiastic SAP customer, one of the first mySAP CRM customers to take advantage of its newest features.
The company credits mySAP CRM with improving call center operations and sales, and is currently working on a new mobile sales initiative.
"At first, the ROI for mySAP CRM was intangible -- in terms of improved customer satisfaction and a lesser learning curve for call center employees," said Serignese, Brothers' director of CRM projects. "But once they got going, as soon as they brought the system up, they started coming up with metrics that proved it was providing us with very tangible results."
Brother International is a subsidiary of Brothers Industries Ltd., a global manufacturer of office products such as laser printers, digital copiers and fax machines. The subsidiary has annual revenues exceeding $1 billion, runs five call centers and has 180 full-time customer service reps who received 1.3 million in 2003.
The big difference between the R/3 rollout -- Serignese was a "super user" then -- and the CRM implementation was obvious, he said.
"Lack of user involvement," Serignese said. "From a user point, [for mySAP CRM] we had 110% buy-in, which made IT life easier. And senior management was on board. The business side of the company put together the argument for the implementation."
Tough lessons, fresh start
Brother rolled out mySAP CRM in 2001. Before then, Brother had been using a combination of homegrown systems with Lotus Notes. The company also considered outsourcing its call center. "We decided that Brother was not in the business of writing our own software," Serignese said.
Then the company took a look at SAP's R/3 customer interaction feature -- and rejected it. "Everyone was thumbs down on that. But SAP told us they were working on mySAP CRM. When we saw the new product, we knew we had made the right decision."
Brother rolled out mySAP CRM version 2.0b in January 2001, and started with campaign management. Serignese said campaign management was easy to configure, and that implementation lasted only three weeks. Then Brother made a key decision, and became the first SAP customer to link SAP BW (business warehouse) with its mySAP CRM system.
"We built BW at the same time because we needed to load that data into CRM to give the call centers a consumer base to start with," Serignese said. "It was a very big spark to get excitement for the project within the call centers."
Brother upgraded to mySAP 2.0c six months later, implemented the solution database and rolled out mySAP CRM at the first call center. "By then, we didn't even need IT on the site," Serignese said. Each call center had a full mySAP CRM implementation completed within a year.
Monitoring data flow has not been a problem for Brother, Serignese said. "If we had a problem with queues backing up data flow, I would have more than two BASIS people on staff today," Serignese said.
His advice to other potential mySAP customers is to consider phased rollouts. "We are going into our fifth CRM project since 2001. We started with call centers, then went to inside telesales, then completed a Web initiative with CRM product catalog and we've just rolled out mobile sales."
"We're continually building on it," Serignese said. "And that's why it works."