Sterlite technologies had a tough task in hand when it started evaluation of a CRM solution—this had to be achieved along with capex savings on IT infrastructure. Keeping this in mind, the team had to find a way to streamline company's pre-sales activities. A cloud-based CRM came up as one of the possible alternatives at this point, but the team wanted a thorough evaluation.
Sterlite's entire production planning was dependent on the number of enquiries and received orders. "We were looking for a tool which could help the sales team understand the business scenario and capture activities. If this information was received through a proper tool like CRM, it would help enhance our production planning," says Prasanth Puliakottu, the CIO of Sterlite Technologies, while referring to the company's newly-acquired CRM model.
Keeping this business need in mind, the IT team at Sterlite began looking for a suitable vendor. "We evaluated a few vendors in the market who offered cloud-based CRM. Salesforce.com had one of the best CRM applications in the market, hence we decided to go ahead with it. The implementation partner was Wipro," informs Puliakottu.
The CRM project began in August 2009. Sterlite has multiple businesses, and the implementation was first undertaken in the company's telecom business. The cloud-based CRM application looks after the division's pre-sales activities; this includes recording the number of enquiries and placed orders. The project went live in December 2009.
Selecting the CRM model
Opting for a cloud-based CRM was a strategic decision taken by the company's IT team. Despite the apprehensions attached to the term 'cloud,' Puliakottu and his team were pretty confident about this technology and the service provided by Salesforce.com. They chose a cloud-based application (on a SaaS model), and it is integrated with the company's SAP. "It is an entirely different model that we have adopted as part of our IT initiatives. We have more than 100 sales executives taking advantage of this application," says Puliakottu.
The reason behind going in for the SaaS model was the low capex involved. Explains Puliakottu: "There is no need to invest in infrastructure and product procurement, so if the services do not prove beneficial, we have the option of terminating them. At the same time, we are paying only for the usage. This cloud-based CRM model gives you fast returns—you don't have to wait for four years to get the desired returns on the technology deployment. In addition, it is a secure system, and we have clearly defined SLAs with regard to security policies."
According to Sterlite, managing the cloud-based CRM application is much easier than managing other applications. A high-end application requires some experts to take care of it, but in this scenario, Sterlite has no worries. Infrastructure management, application management, patch management—everything is taken care of.
The new CRM application has helped Sterlite to streamline its pre-sales activity. Cloud-based CRM works toward meeting schedules, planning and delivery. The charges are as per its usage. Sterlite pays around $50 per month per user. Currently there are more than 100 users. "We are getting good returns and feedback from the sales guys," notes Puliakottu.
Since everything was taken care of by Salesforce.com, there were hardly any challenges as far as implementation was concerned. "Convincing the management was initially a challenge. I had to assure them on the security and data management aspects. We went through the complete documentation and adopted processes to make sure that our data was in secure hands. After explaining the benefits of cloud-based CRM to them, the management extended its full support," says Puliakottu. The other challenge was in terms of training people and bringing them together on the cloud.
As of now, this cloud-based CRM application takes care of the pre-sales activity. "We started with telecom and successfully managed to extend it to our power transmission business. We plan to customize it further and add other functional areas such as investor relationships, branding, customer collaboration and public relations," informs Puliakottu.