For sales employees who work in the field, sitting down with a customer often entails overcoming a variety of obstacles first. One client suddenly no longer has time for a meeting; another wants to push his meeting an hour later than scheduled. A third customer wants to get together – at a location 60 miles away. Assuming such messages reach field sales agents in time, each requires its own change of plans. Unnecessarily long distances, idle hours between appointments, and insufficient time to make every meeting are some of the possible consequences.
This is why ParCon Unternehmensberatung GmbH offers an add-on for SAP CRM that plans trips between customer visits and can factor in even short-term scheduling changes. It does so based on integrated geoinformation services and the ability to fall back on an SAP back-end system through a smartphone whenever required.
Among other functions, ParCon’s route planning add-on includes a feature not found in SAP CRM: geolocalization. Here, the integration and visualization of digital maps in SAP CRM – along with synchronization with the calendar in SAP CRM – serve as the essential basis for simulating, calculating, and planning trips, as well as realigning requirements on short notice.
Meanwhile, both field and office-based sales employees can use desktop PCs or smartphones to create route and visit sequences. The add-on automatically factors in customer groups based on time and geography for particular sales regions, and it assembles situational maps for daily and weekly plans. The option to compare planned goals and results also enriches SAP CRM’s customer management analysis. All in all, users can keep a constant eye on the status of all customer-related occurrences.
Next page: More time means more money
Ready for anything
Ideally, the ParCon add-on foresees situations like the following. Upon checking his or her e-mail, an employee in the field learns of two scheduling changes from colleagues back at the office: One appointment has been postponed until the following week, and another customer has requested a meeting on short notice.
To replan the necessary business travel and fit the postponed appointment into the next week as well as possible, directions and distance calculations – as well as customer data, contact histories, and visit times – are crucial. In this process, the user changes his or her day-to-day plans directly in a smartphone’s calendar, which then syncs to the SAP CRM application in question. The same goes for the meeting the following week.
The planning algorithm involved accounts for the duration of appointments, visit frequency and office hours specific to each customer, and data on overnight stays, vacation, and flexible working time. This enables field employees to create efficient routes with a variety of options, use the time they save wisely, and maintain an overview of their schedules.
More time means more money
Optimized business travel planning saves time that employees can invest back into retaining customers and improving the service they provide. Upon closer inspection, the benefits are even clearer: According to an example calculation by ParCon, 100 field employees each travel around 30,000 miles annually, or a total of some three million miles.
The company’s add-on can enable these employees to reduce said distance by 5% – just over 150,000 miles – corresponding to 5,200 hours saved every year. If you assume each employee can eliminate an additional 15 minutes of preparation and planning each week, the total amount of time saved rises to 6,300 working hours.
These hours represent the working time of 3.5 employees, which could then be used to maintain contacts and acquire new customers without any increase in personnel costs.