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A quick guide to ROI with mySAP CRM

Krissi Danielsson, Contributor
These days, an organization without a CRM solution is like a nearsighted person without glasses. It's hard to get a clear picture of a customer base without being able to see lots of details.

In companies already running SAP, SAP's offering makes sense from an integration standpoint. "MySAP CRM is probably the only product out there that's fully integrated across the ERP and supply chain side of business," said Steve Niesman, president and CEO of Itelligence Inc., a global midmarket SAP provider.

For Bridgewater, N.J.-based Brother International Corp., integration was the deciding factor in choosing mySAP CRM. "The whole idea of us being an SAP R/3 customer was the concept of tight integration and only having one software solution to manage," chief technology officer Dennis Upton explained.

But how can you be sure your nicely integrated mySAP CRM solution will translate into ROI?

Training: A key step to ROI

A common criticism of mySAP CRM is that it lacks usability. A recent AMR Research report cited difficulties that companies are having convincing their sales teams to use the tool. Investing in the right training is a key step to assuring maximum ROI.

"Those companies that adequately address training are those that realize ROI," Niesman said.

Outside training can be a good start, according to Brian Sable, a consultant with SAP Integrated Solutions in Irving, Texas. However, "a lot of companies doing outside training

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have a canned package that's very generic. So start with that, but develop in-house training materials." It's wise to have an in-house expert who can guide the use and architecture of that product's lifecycle, Sable added.

When you'll see ROI

The ROI from a mySAP CRM implementation tends to come through both increased sales and reduced costs. The time it takes to reach ROI with mySAP CRM depends on the scope of the project. Many companies will realize ROI in just a few months, depending on the process that they're implementing, Niesman said.

For Chicago-based Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc., the ROI was quick. Ulta was able to take over its mailing list operations and activities after previously paying outside people to handle it. "We've had it since January," said Bruce Haynes, vice president of CRM/real estate research. "I know it will eventually reduce our mail costs on average about 10%, and we could have a good 10% increase in sales to come."

Brother International also realized significant ROI from its mySAP CRM implementation -- in almost too many areas to count. The simplicity of having a single repository of customer service information knocked down the training time for Brother's customer service representatives by about a week, and the improved service sliced the rate of product returns from 6.7% to 6.1%. Brother also saw improvements in average customer service call time, which increased its ability to field customer service calls.

This means we can handle an additional 100,000 calls per year with the same number of people," Upton said.

Proper planning for ROI

The most important ingredient to assuring ROI is having the right plan. "The biggest roadblocks in implementation stem back to how solid the strategy is," explains Tom Spitale, principal and primary researcher at Peppers & Rogers Group. To make sure that your organization gets the most out of the CRM rollout, Spitale recommends paying attention to four key areas.

Identify how you want to change the customer experience from what it is currently to what you want it to be in the future.

Get executive support for the initiative.

Address change management, meaning staff awareness and training.

Pay attention to metrics. "You've got to have solid metrics in place," Spitale said. "CRM implementations are hard, and even in the successful ones, there's pain. You have to have metrics that tell you you're having a positive impact on a customer, or people will equate pain with failure."

Krissi Danielsson is a freelance writer and former TechTarget editor. You can reach her at kdanielsson@gmail.com.

This was first published in September 2004

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