Industry peak body Australian Pork Limited is due to complete a migration to a CRM system within the "next few weeks", according to APL policy analyst James Battams.
APL is a producer-owned organisation that only has a small workforce, but has to manage "several thousand stakeholders," Battams said.
"We represent farmers, we manage a range of research projects and we also conduct marketing on behalf of the pork industry," he said.
The organisation is currently finalising a migration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, which APL chose after a tender process earlier this year. Migration to the CRM system began in late June. It replaces a disparate range of products used to manage contact with stakeholders and interested parties.
"It was very fragmented," Battams said. "In all honesty we were using Outlook contact lists, we were using spreadsheets, we had two or three slightly customised Access databases keeping track of people, and we also had one very large offsite Access database which powered a website."
"We recognised some time ago that we need a central stakeholder relationship management system or platform with which to keep track of all the people we deal with, who range from the producers themselves – from the 'ma and pa' farmer right up to the big corporates – to scientists, vets, butchers and people further down the supply chain – people in abattoirs, processors and so on, not to mention the various regulators around Australia."
"We've had a CRM program up and running here for a few months now, and we're taking it bite by bite, getting all of our company data into the system," Battams said. "So far I'd say the deployment is running quite well."
When the organisation went to tender, APL specified that it wanted a website to "hang off" the CRM system, Battams said. The old Web system had a number of limitations, including multiple sign-ons for single producers. "One producer in Australia has 50 locations where they farm pigs, and in the past they needed 50 different log-ons to our system," he said. Now producers only need a single sign-on.
The upgrade has been mainly smooth, with a few minor change management issues and some training for staff, though most have found adjusting to the centralised CRM setup easy.
"I told people here if you can use Facebook, you can use CRM," Battams said. "It's not that complicated. It's just a website that keep tracks of records but it's powerful enough that it's really useful. "
APL is looking at integrating events management and accounts payable approvals into the CRM system, as well as implementing a mapping system that can plot farms' locations in real-time.