by Chloe Herrick

Ricoh Australia looks to the Cloud

May 16, 20115 mins
Cloud ComputingCRM Systems

Plagued with a dated in-house client relationship management (CRM) system, print management company Ricoh, realised it needed to find a new system to match its rapidly growing Australian business.

The company, which provides a wealth of multifunctional devices, printers and fax machines, has branches located in each Australian capital city, and has increased its local employee headcount from 520 to 750 over the last 12 months.

Speaking at the Cloudforce 2011 conference in Sydney, the company’s IT business engagement manager, Declan O’Reilly, said the recent business growth meant they were facing an uphill battle with the in-house built CRM system that was based on IBM’s Lotus Notes.

“We built it five to seven years ago and at the time it was perfect, it did the job and helped us track our accounts, contacts, opportunities that kind of stuff, but as the business grew the application struggled to cope more and more,” O’Reilly said.

The company realised it would have to either build a new system in-house or find a replacement in the market that could grow parallel to the business following which it began the selection process.

“We wanted something we could grow with over the next five to 10 years, we had plans to move into new markets, possibly acquire some new companies to help us grow and we also knew we wanted to get one single source of truth for all information pertaining to customers,” O’Reilly said.

Three vendors were on the shortlist, however O’Reilly said it was following a presentation from Salesforce that the company decided to trial the system for six months.

“We went for Salesforce, mainly because it was highly recommended and we had a pilot with two teams internally, the marketing team use it for tracking leads and campaigns, and we also deployed it for one of our sales teams in Adelaide,” he said. “The benefit there was we had some users in Adelaide who had used Salesforce before, they were very familiar with the system and how it could help Ricoh.

“We planned to run the pilot for six months and see how it went but after the first two or three months we were already getting great results back and the feedback we were getting was that it was really easy to use, very fast compared to the Notes system that we had before which meant the sales team could stay out in the field selling as opposed to coming back into the office.”

According to O’Reilly, the reporting and dashboard tools from Salesforce have been put to good use as the Notes system lacked any standard reporting tools to demonstrate how the sales team were tracking week to week or month to month. The new system enables data reports to be compiled monthly in real-time and with the option to consolidate to the branch level or up to a national level.

Having a system in the Cloud has meant the company’s sales team is able to stay out in the field selling, work from mobile locations or from home, said O’Reilly, instead of spending an average two days per week in the office updating the system and doing the required administration.

“With the reporting capability within Salesforce we’ve got several thousand reports across several hundred dashboards which helps us to track how the whole business is from day to day, it also means that from a service perspective if we see some customers are making a higher number of calls then we expect, we can target them earlier and can contact the customer before they contact us.”

Following the Adelaide pilot, the company rolled the deployment out nationally facing the challenge of consolidating each branch’s information into a single source, rather than having copies stored in Notes, Excel spreadsheets and mobile phones.

“We were staggered with how differently information was handled in every single branch,” O’Reilly said. “The fact that we can use Salesforce on mobile phones with the application meant our sales people could keep their contacts up to date and if there’s something happening with a customer account from a billing perspective, a service perspective, a complaints perspective, they’re able to access that information online in real time.”

Throughout the rollout there were numerous struggles, said O’Reilly, the most significant being data cleansing with information coming from many different sources.

“We had to marry up those different sources and from that we had to come up with one single source of truth that we could then import into Salesforce, so most of the efforts in the rollout were around migration,” he said. “Each branch took about a week and then two weeks training and about three days getting data from the sales team and cleaning that and migrating that data into Salesforce.”

O’Reilly said the project shed light on the need for engagement with all members of the staff who would be coming in contact with the new system and gauging their feedback, as well as feedback from customers.

“First of all, I would plan the project, I would engage all of the stakeholders using the product, it’s important to get their feedback and it definitely helps with the engagement and rollout one you have the product developed,” he said. “I think it’s important to get your reporting and dashboard requirements right upfront, with Salesforce you’re better off doing your deployment piece by piece, showing each part to the users, fixing it, then moving onto the next piece.”

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