“Come to me, brother, to Moscow”: Such was the first Russian reference to Moscow, made by Prince Yuri Dolgoruki , founder of the city, to the prince of the Novgorod Republic in 1147. This is, indeed, a stirring cry; however, it was rather for pragmatic reasons that Yury Makarov left his town in the vast sweep of the Volga region in 1988 to study chemistry at Moscow State University.
And in Moscow he has chosen to stay: “It’s a good place to work. It’s the busiest Russian city. And it has an exciting rhythm and fast pace that you can feel,” Makarov says. Excitement and a fast pace are also things that Makarov experiences in his position as deputy director at Mettler-Toledo C.I.S., the Russian subsidiary of the global Mettler-Toledo Group, particularly so when this small and energetic sales and marketing organization went through growing pains a few years ago.
In 2006, it became clear that homegrown Microsoft Accessbased customer relationship management (CRM) solution was insufficient to provide control over the operations and keep up with growth. “When we reached the critical number of 100 employees,” remembers Makarov, “it became clear that we needed a good information system. All of our customer data needed to be in one place.”
Overcoming growing pains
There was also the question of control. In a small organization, everybody knows everybody else, and if a manager has a question about somebody’s performance, he or she just has to ask. “But when an organization becomes bigger, this no longer works,” says Makarov. “You need a system that, on the one hand, controls employees and, on the other, supports your core business processes.” It’s not as if we didn’t have IT support, he continues, but it was highly fragmented. “Getting the full picture took an enormous amount of time. It was almost impossible. That’s why we decided we should implement one solution to support our sales and help us get control over expenses.”
Makarov and his colleagues initially investigated what was available on the Russian market. In the end, however, they decided in favor of SAP Business One. “Actually, the reasons for our choice were straightforward,” says Makarov. “The features of this software solution, the strength of the SAP brand, and, of course, the price. We simply weren’t ready to buy a big SAP solution at that time.” They started the implementation of SAP Business One in mid-2006, and in January 2007 the Russian office started using the solution. A year later, the branch offices in Ukraine and Kazakhstan were using the SAP solution, albeit customized versions. “We couldn’t use the same SAP solution in all three offices because of huge local specifics, especially in finance and accounting,” explains Makarov.
As for the growing pains: Mettler-Toledo C.I.S. has successfully circumvented the problems of inefficiency often associated with young and expanding companies. “SAP Business One allows us to integrate our business processes,” reports Makarov. “It has automated numerous routine operations and provides excellent reporting tools for analysis. We finally have real-time control over operations. And what is great is that it fits all corporate financial reporting requirements, including Sarbanes-Oxley.”
Now Makarov cannot imagine his company without a single, effective IT solution. “After this short time, SAP Business One is even making us money, he says. “Let me give you an example. Inside the SAP solution we installed a very good, very complicated but simultaneously flexible discount authorization system. And after a year, we made a short analysis of how it works, and we were glad to see that we had more money at the bottom line.”
Concentrating on strategy
The implementation of SAP Business One has freed up the company to concentrate more on strategic issues. With an effective IT system in operation, the company is beginning to establish procedures in human capital management and to adjust its business process. Its strategic goals: increasing sales and keeping expenses down. The former is essential because Russia, along with China and other Asian countries, is expected to make significant contributions to the sales growth of the entire Mettler-Toledo Group.
And keeping expenses under control is particularly important in Russia,
where huge increases in wages and salaries, together with inflation and
increases in such profit-absorbing factors as office rents, combine to present a formidable threat to the economic health of a company. “Now we have a very powerful instrument in SAP Business One that will support our sales growth and help us control expenses,” says Makarov.
The name of the game: efficiency
Selling products of the Mettler-Toledo Group does not merely involve taking orders. “That would be easy,” says Makarov wryly. He then describes the work behind the scenes of selling complex precision instruments: “We go to the customers, acquaint ourselves with their production, take a careful look at where the equipment is to be installed, and even take our own measurements to be on the safe side.” Only after a thorough investigation does a sales representative get back to the customer with a quotation.
That is time-intensive work. And with pressure to sell and the number of new products coming from headquarters in recent years, it is easy to assume that the sales force will continue to expand. But, as Makarov makes clear, the times of automatically hiring new staff to push increased product volume have changed. “We have to be more cautious,” he explains. “When a new product is to be launched in Russia, we try to find somebody within the team to do this in addition to his or her main duties. Now it is all about increasing efficiency, which is where a powerful IT solution supports us.”
Higher efficiency will help Mettler-Toledo C.I.S. win against the competition, which is growing rapidly. “Our competitors consider the Russian market very interesting,” says Makarov. “And like the Mettler-Toledo Group, they all have mature markets in Europe. So they are willing and ready to perform aggressively in Russia.” Streamlined, efficient, and highly motivated, Makarov’s team is well positioned to deal with any competition and to carry out his sales strategy. Which, he says with a wink, is simple: “Sell like hell!”
The Mettler-Toledo Group
The Mettler-Toledo Group specializes in precision instruments (laboratory, industrial,and retail) for professional use. With more than 9,500 employees worldwide, the group generates annual sales of U.S.$1.8 billion. Mettler-Toledo International was incorporated in 1991 and is headquartered in Greifensee, Switzerland.