Syngenta sees success in modular CRM

Australian biotechnology and crop management company Syngenta has implemented a modular customer relationship management system to consolidate its business processes and help automate the company's highly distributed sales arm.

Aware of the high failure rate of large CRM projects, Syngenta CRM manager, Scott McKinnen, said months of planning and evaluation are essential for CRM success.

"Our sales team was using Access and Excel for CRM; our data was dispersed across a number of systems, and our general business processes were fragmented," McKinnon said. "Before we started anything we considered three vendors, had lengthy discussions and workshops with company staff to see what features they needed, and got feedback from our offices in the UK and Germany about what they are doing."

Syngenta chose Pivotal over Siebel and SAP because of its modular architecture and because the company's European operations reported success with Pivotal.

"We essentially took the UK and German Pivotal implementations and adapted it to our business," McKinnon said. "With at least 50 of our staff working remotely, Pivotal is flexible and handles the job well."

In addition to the knowledge McKinnon had gained from his overseas offices, he said Pivotal's modular design combined with his full-time role being devoted to CRM made it a success.

"With Pivotal, we could implement the sales part of our business first.

"Also, we have a full time resource in my role of CRM manager. This ensures that any queries or problems can be solved by someone who is familiar with the system."

Syngenta is using Pivotal on Microsoft SQL server with a Windows client being used by the staff.

"Although we are not using a Web frontend to Pivotal, the Windows client loaded on to our remote staff's notebooks works well," McKinnon said. "Pivotal integrates with Outlook and changes are made via a replicating database method. The system is scalable and so far the servers are coping well with some 80 users."

Although McKinnon is happy with the current client arrangement, he said Web-based functionality is something the company is evaluating. "We are just about to upgrade our ERP system and move that data to the Web which will give us easier access to both sets of data," he said.

Pivotal executive vice president for product, Jesper Andersen agrees with McKinnon in that CRM projects should not be deployed in one hit. "Do CRM in bite-sized chunks. You can't go in and totally implement CRM across the enterprise," Andersen said.

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