CRM systems helps NZ sales staff to share

New Zealand sales staff of property company giant Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) have previously been particularly disinclined to share contact information with colleagues, because they have worked on a commission-only basis and tended to view colleagues as competitors.

This will all change thanks to the company implementing a new customer relationship management (CRM) system from SAP AG across its Asia-Pacific offices.

JLL, which has about 80 staff in New Zealand, is delivering mySAP CRM initially to its sales and leasing staff. The CRM project, which supersedes an older customer management system that was available only to senior managers, accompanies a wider SAP implementation of R/3 and the Workplace portal product.

Sales and leasing staff are being "compelled" to enter customer data, as isolated information about clients is "next to useless", says JLL SAP project manager Wallace Scales, and will not break down the information "silos" between offices. There is some user resistance, says Scales, mostly due to the common feelings of the system being "imposed" by head office and a reluctance to share data with other staff. New Zealand's commission-only system may be revisited once the system has bedded down, he says.

Other key aims for CRM, says Scales, include capitalizing on the competitive advantage of sharing customer information with colleagues and seamlessly integrating the CRM system with JLL's back office applications.

The CRM system, installed with the help of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young after initial talks in September last year, has only been running for three months in some Australian states, and only staff training has been done so far in New Zealand. The system will be running here by the end of the year, says Scales. Benefits of the system will include consolidation of 35 databases into one, data entry reduced and transferred from the back office, and less reporting progress to colleagues.

The recently released CRM 3.0 is SAP's first attempt to open up the package to link with the back-office applications of other vendors. Previously, mySAP CRM linked only to SAP's own back-office systems. Version 3.0 also features more than 100 analytical functions and boilerplate "business-scenario" applications for handling specific situations such as customer-order capture, integrated advanced planning and service requisition.

Analysts Gartner have suggested that SAP's CRM solution will make most sense to existing SAP customers but will struggle as a "best of breed, standalone" CRM option for several years.

Sydney-based SAP marketing director Len Augustine agrees to some degree that this may be the case, but says having a product that can stand alone in a non-SAP environment makes it far easier to approach potential customers.

The market for CRM still appears to be buoyant. Augustine says a survey of SAP's Australasian customer base suggests 63 percent are looking at a CRM project within the next 12 months. This tallies with similar research by JD Edwards of its own customer base. JDE, which previously had a reseller arrangement with CRM market leader Siebel, has signaled it will buy CRM vendor YOUcentric.

In other CRM news, Siebel was last week expected to launch a Web-enabled update of its top-of-the-range suite, and Onyx, which closed its local office in August after a year, has appointed Certus Consulting Group as its New Zealand reseller.

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