eSILICON SALES REPS SEE NO BARRIER TO ORACLE’S SOFTWARE-AS-A-SERVICE Customer Relationship Management (SaaS CRM).
The sales representatives at eSilicon have a groundbreaking service to sell based on Oracle SaaS CRM. The company is the pioneer of the Value Chain Producer model — designing, manufacturing, and productizing fully tested packaged chips. Working with eSilicon gives fabless semiconductor and system original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a low-cost and lower-risk path to volume chip production, increasing predictability of deliveries and time-to-market advantages.
Despite strong customer adoption, eSilicon’s sales force did not have the enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) solution to keep pace with an ambitious plan to increase business and broaden the company’s global customer base. With the help of Oracle CRM On Demand (SaaS CRM), eSilicon’s enterprise applications services staff worked with the company’s sales team to overcome technology challenges and deliver a new set of capabilities. Best of all, the process of implementing the new system was fast and painless, and users are unanimous in their praise.
“Adoption of a SaaS CRM has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Michael McPherson, director of sales at eSilicon. “I haven’t heard one person say anything negative about Oracle CRM On Demand.”
CRM As a Service
Boasting customers from the communications, computation, storage, consumer, and industrial sectors, eSilicon produces technology that has been used in everything from large servers to Apple’s iPod. With such a diverse customer base, the company needed a robust CRM system that could serve many needs: a SaaS CRM.
But the company’s previous CRM system required sales representatives to spend too much time entering data into customer records. And the IT department lacked a single place to gather and view comprehensive customer information—sales history, cost targets, chief competitors, and details about the customer’s decision-making process. When executives and peers needed critical sales information, representatives had to ask superusers to manually create a report and distribute it via e-mail, because the system was too technically complex for a nontechnologist to do so. Enterprise applications staff couldn’t customize the workflow of assignments and events or easily access key data that was necessary to guide the department, such as revenue figures or the status of sales campaigns. It’s when a SaaS CRM comes to rescue.
The impact of these challenges was not limited to the sales force. When data errors occurred, the company’s enterprise projected demand but also current inventory, safety stock levels (inventory on hand for emergencies), and the time it takes to get a product from a vendor.
“Oracle is really a tool that takes any guesswork by the inventory manager out of the process, ” explains Killoren. “We let the formula tell us how much to buy.”
The supply plan can address School Specialty’s internal process, but it can’t control vendor performance. Staff constantly interacts with vendors—well before POs are issued—to identify potential bottlenecks and confirm manufacturing capacity. Sources in Asia, India, and Europe, which account for some 20 percent of School Specialty’s sourcing purchases, typically need POs in November to deliver product the following May. Domestic vendors can respond faster; their POs can be issued in February or March for delivery in May or June.
Killoren says School Specialty staff works hard to identify potential supply issues. “We had some real challenges with our international vendors, so some team members got together to look for domestic alternatives, ” he recalls. “The whole team works on the ordering process, so they can be confident products will be delivered to our distribution centers in time. ”
SaaS CRM goes with the Flow
Indeed, School Specialty’s operations are aided by the strategic organization of the company’s workforce. Killoren borrowed a concept from Lean manufacturing, organizing supply chain employees into “flow cells. ” On an assembly line, a person completes a process and then hands the product to the next person, who performs the next process; that way, defects are caught and corrected immediately.
In School Specialty’s version of flow cells, all staff related to a product category or vendor—merchandisers, buyers, expediters, and accounts-payable associates—collaborate in an open-office environment. “If a buyer has a question about a vendor, he used to send an e-mail to the merchandising team and might get a response a day or two later, ” Killoren says. “Now, that person is sitting right next to him, so he turns around and they talk about it. If they have an issue, they get the vendor on the phone and resolve it. ”
Killoren, who is trained in Lean-Six Sigma techniques and led the Oracle SaaS implementation at School Specialty, believes technology and human factors can’t be separated. “You can put a process in place, but unless you organize the human side of it, you’re still stuck.”