Recipes for Improving Customer Relationships (Part 1)

Not all CRM projects executed in the pharmaceutical industry live up to expectations. Studies that have looked more closely into this matter have found that the customer’s targets are often not defined in a measurable way, or do not exist at all. Many projects fail to live up to expectations because they are managed as purely IT projects and do not sufficiently involve the company’s other departments, and are all too rarely regarded as part of an across-the-board corporate or customer-relationship-management strategy. A number of pitfalls must be taken into consideration in the planning of CRM projects as compared to less complex projects such as the introduction of software for accounting.
Of the many controlling factors that exist, a number have proven particularly relevant for success in SAP’s mySAP CRM projects:

  • Establishment of a CRM strategy across the whole enterprise
  • Coordination of the implementation strategy with enterprise targets (CRM vision)
  • Involvement of sponsors, user departments, and the IT department
  • Efficient project methodology based on professional implementation tools
  • Qualified consulting partners and the ensuring of knowledge transfer to the customer

Factors for success in CRM projects

The core processes that are subsequently to be implemented through customer relationship management must be defined in concrete terms in the overall strategy to be developed by the enterprise. Projects have been shown to be particularly successful if senior management is involved from the outset. CRM projects are often justified by the fact that the enterprise has a visionary goal; but this can by no means be all. Rather, the expected benefit of the CRM solutions must be defined in as much detail as possible at the outset based on suitable key performance indicators and methods of measurement, so that the effects can actually be verified after implementation.
In the pharmaceutical industry, one such indicator could show the percentage increase in physicians with a particular specialization – such as cardiology or gastroenterology – who are actually contacted by the field sales force following the implementation of a solution for maintaining customer relationships. Other indicators can be set up for the empirical observation of the applications. Here, the physicians test the effects of drugs, enter the results in evaluation sheets, and send these to the drug manufacturers. This procedure is extremely time-consuming, and pharmaceutical companies are therefore interested in finding out the percentage by which the return of these evaluation sheets can be accelerated if the procedure is controlled by CRM. Indicators for the market share of certain drugs groups are also suited to a success-based measurement. These include the “matrix change”, for example, which reveals how the relative market share of, say, a gastric preparation has changed in relation to the market share of the main competitor.

Customers from the process industry
Customers from the process industry

As a rule, the implementation of a CRM solution also brings with it a new form of customer orientation. In the pharmaceutical industry, the focus is now centered much more on the economic and economically measurable customer value of, for example, a physician or a clinic in relation to a company’s own preparations and products. This orientation, combined with technological advances and the field sales’ loss of a monopoly on knowledge brought about by the implementation of enterprise-wide CRM, requires comprehensive change management. This is needed to prepare and support the employees involved, and to counter potential reservations from the very start. In addition, a CRM strategy should not be a one-time, closed procedure, but should rather be designed to take account of future corporate development and ongoing projects.
To increase end users’ acceptance, it is advisable to hand responsibility for the project over to the user departments. It is necessary to ensure that project team members from the user departments and the IT department can devote their time to project tasks, to ensure smooth operation through knowledge transfer once implementation has been completed.

AcceleratedSAP contributes to successful implementation

A constantly developed toolkit, known as AcceleratedSAP (ASAP), is available as a tried and tested procedure for the implementation of mySAP CRM in projects in the pharmaceutical industry. ASAP supports the implementation teams with templates and pharmaceutical-specific information, including, for example, instructions on how Territory Management should be set up for pharmaceutical sales. Here, the SAP solution makes it possible to manage regional criteria alongside customer and sales data from SAP Business Information Warehouse. In addition, alternative sales territory structures can be simulated before the final decision, to ensure the most effective territorial planning. ASAP also contains information about Customizing, that is, the configuration of sales and distribution based on particular classes of customers, such as certain medical specialist groups, or pharmacists.
All these tools support a step-by-step implementation in five stages. In stage one, “project preparation”, the project setup is one important task that should be mentioned. In the preparatory stage, it is necessary to harmonize the probable CRM system landscape with the strategy for the enterprise-specific IT landscape (landscape strategy). One particularly important factor for successful implementation is the assignment of areas of responsibility, not just to the SAP consulting team but also to individual members of the customer’s user departments and IT department.
The core element of stage two, “business blueprint”, is an analysis of the actual situation and a definition of the target situation in relation to the mySAP CRM for Pharmaceuticals industry solution, in which a number of pharmaceutical-specific processes are already preconfigured in the system. These processes can relate to sample management, namely the supply of free drugs samples to the medical profession, for example. The documenting of information about which physicians have received which preparations, and in what quantities, is extremely time-consuming here. However, the process is absolutely essential, because the German law on the advertising of medicinal products specifies strict rules, which must be adhered to. Other processes relate to order entry for pharmacies or sales call planning for sales staff, including the creation of visit reports (call reporting), for example.
This stage is concerned with determining the difference between the preconfigured solution and the customer’s requirements profile. It is important to involve the user departments here and to always ensure that the specified project targets are met. All extensions and enhancements, including those in subsequent stages, must be treated strictly as change requests, and must therefore be agreed and decided on by the responsible project team members. The technical design of the solution and the concept for the interfaces are also drawn up, and additional programming work and its cost is determined. This stage also requires a decision on how migration and enterprise-wide rollout are to take place. The rollout of a solution for field sales, in particular, can involve logistical and organizational challenges that must be considered in good time.

Go-ahead from the user departments

In stage three, or the implementation phase, the processes are implemented in the software. At the end of stage three, the company has a functioning solution that meets the requirements of the project concept and ensures the project targets can be achieved. It makes sense to include a pilot phase here, to get the go-ahead from the user departments. Stage four involves the preparations for going live, and includes rollout training, where particular attention should be paid to user motivation, in order to ensure the necessary acceptance in productive operation. Any suggested improvements to the new processes and the CRM solution should be recorded in a qualified way and undergo a controlled evaluation.
In the fifth and final stage, “Go live & support“, the solutions are put into productive operation in line with a rollout strategy. This includes the cutover, or switching off of the legacy systems, migration of data, and going live of the new solutions. Production support is provided by the Competence Center and SAP, who provide help and assistance to users in the initial phase.

Uli Müller

Joerg Rudat
Joerg Rudat