Awakening the Customer’s Potential

Freudenberg IT
Freudenberg IT

Freudenberg IT GmbH (F-IT) provides a wide range of IT services – covering everything from analysis to running applications. The subsidiary of the globally active corporate group Freudenberg has been providing IT services to support Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and SAP for around 30 years and goes to great lengths to ensure customer satisfaction. “For us, providing quality and meeting customer requirements go hand in hand. We aim to offer special advantages by pursuing a service-oriented approach,” explains Michael Fichtner, CEO of Freudenberg IT. This holds true both for internal consulting services within the Freudenberg Group and for external customers.

Staying close to the customer

To reach its goal, the globally active IT system company requires a standardized view of customer data, contacts and activities throughout the company. This is no easy task, as its sales operations span six subsidiaries and 12 sites in Europe, the U.S. and China. Its old CRM solution contained some customer-specific developments that would now take too great an effort to maintain and could not cope with the volume of data from 1,000 or so customer projects.
With this in mind, F-IT decided to introduce a new CRM solution. The requirements were obvious. “As well as enhanced data, we first and foremost required new reporting and analysis functions that support the evaluation and segmentation of customer data by business division and enable faster and more successful sales activities,” explains Anna Ranucci, Head of Sales Support for Western Europe at F-IT. Queries written in house complicated the preparation of new sales and marketing campaigns. The problem was that many contact partners were addressed twice and were understandably annoyed.

Adaptable and future-proof

In 2005, F-IT opted for SAP Sales Express Solution, a sales solution developed by SAP for SMEs on the basis of mySAP CRM. “SAP Sales Express Solution ticks the boxes for us. The preconfigured solution is fast and the costs of implementing it are calculable,” says Project Manager Axel Kuhnert, outlining the advantages. What is more, SAP Sales Express Solution can be upgraded to cover the full functional spectrum of mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) whenever required. SAP Sales Express Solution has been integrated into the internal F-IT portal based on SAP NetWeaver Portal. The solution supports the core processes account, contact, activity and opportunity management, campaign management and sales reports. Business partner accounts can be created anywhere at any time, while leads and opportunities that have been entered can be called up and pursued.
In addition to the fact that SAP Sales Express Solution can easily be adapted to meet individual business requirements, it was crucial for F-IT that the integration of customer data was already preconfigured in mySAP ERP. Thanks to the preconfigured reporting functions, all the required data can be transferred directly from mySAP ERP. “The migration and subsequent data cleanup were definitely worthwhile,” explains Fichtner. “Our operations are now efficient again.” F-IT can now use the CRM analyses without recourse to the internal Business Warehouse solution and therefore saves the associated and not inconsiderable costs of service and maintenance. Preconfigured customizing of processes also avoided the need for painstaking and expensive modifications and in-house development. “This enabled us to minimize the implementation costs and workload. What’s more, preconfiguration leads to greater planning reliability,” explains Kuhnert. The consulting company was also swayed among other things by the prospect of developing expertise in the SAP Sales Express Solution, familiarizing itself with the SAP solution and benefiting from its own experience of advising customers.
As an SAP ramp-up customer, Freudenberg IT enjoyed additional benefits. “We were able to implement SAP Sales Express Solution before our competitors, which gave us a knowledge edge and enabled us to profit very quickly from greater transparency and success in our sales operations,” explains the project manager. The solution went live in January 2006, after only three months. The company stayed within its tight budget of 50,000 Euro.

Cooperation between partners

F-IT worked together closely with SAP development during the implementation and contributed its own requirements and knowledge, about e.g. troubleshooting to the development. During SAP ramp-up knowledge transfer, made-to-measure learning maps based on e-learning technologies helped the project manager and his team build up detailed knowledge. “We’ve benefited greatly from exchanging ideas with SAP and have picked up invaluable information for planning the project, for example. This has enabled us to integrate individual features such as Outlook or the Reporting Framework quickly,” explains Project Manager Kuhnert. Members of the project team attended workshops as part of the SAP ramp-up program. Furthermore, SAP provided F-IT with its own ramp-up coach during the implementation. Direct contact enabled faster solutions to problems and quicker processing of customer messages. “Depending on the priority, we received an answer either on the same day or the next day at the latest. We seldom had to wait any longer than 48 hours for first responses to our queries,” recalls Kuhnert.

Integrating CRM processes worldwide

With the SAP Sales Express Solution, F-IT integrated the processes for customer relationship management and sales at sites in Europe, the U.S. and China and standardized its opportunity, account, activity and campaign management across the company. Now all branches access a single database and create standard reports. “These days we optimize the use of our customer support resources, operate much more effectively, and have lower IT costs,” says Fichtner.

Mapping the processes in the standard system has also reduced the maintenance workload and improved upgradeability. Examples of this include mapping of customer information about marketing attributes or the checks for duplication that can be adapted to meet customer requirements, which are supported by the standard SAP Sales Express solution. Whereas the previous “self-made” duplicate check was hard-coded, which means that each change entailed a modification to coding, changes can now be made without modifying the source code.
A special plus is the integration of Microsoft Outlook. Employees previously had to copy customer contacts from Outlook and then paste them into a document in CRM, whereas e-mails are now replicated from Outlook at the touch of a button. F-IT thereby ensures that all relevant customer information is recorded and duplicates are avoided. The data quality has improved significantly and the workload has been reduced. “This gives us a clear and comprehensive view of all activities and allows us to offer individualized customer support,” says Ranucci. There were no problems involved in switching to the new software. “Almost all of our employees have contact to customers and benefit from the integration of Outlook and Portal and the clear and powerful reporting functions,” says Kuhnert.
International roll-out of the solution is already well underway. In the medium term, all 380 employees will have access to the new CRM solution. The company also wants to benefit from the advantages of the SAP ramp-up projects in future in order to implement new solutions and applications quickly. The introduction of either mySAP ERP 2004 or mySAP ERP 2005 and SAP E-Commerce for mySAP ERP (SAP ECO) is already planned.

Regina Urbach