Replacing Siebel Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM–based Global Sales Experience
Business Case Study
Published: May 2012
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The Microsoft Information Technology (MSIT) implementation of Global Sales Experience (GSX), a modified Microsoft Dynamics® CRM–based solution, concluded last year with the retirement of Oracle Siebel and the migration of its remaining users to the GSX platform. Two years prior, MSIT had embarked on an aggressive migration schedule that would impact more than 30,000 users. The success of this migration resulted in the worldwide Microsoft adoption of GSX—a high-performing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Key to this success was the partnership between the Sales, Marketing, and Services Group (SMSG), and MSIT. Together they created a user-focused, centrally governed solution that has resulted in high adoption rates and significant reductions in total cost of ownership (TCO).
Business Case Study, 574 KB, Microsoft Word file
As the worldwide leader in software for business and personal computing, the vision of Microsoft is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.
MSIT and SMSG sought a replacement for an outmoded, restrictive, Siebel–based CRM solution. The new technology needed to support a variety of workstreams at sales, marketing, and operations offices worldwide.
GSX is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM–based solution that provides rich, variable user experiences to support multiple role-based workflows. User-centered design and a collaborative deployment strategy contribute to a better performing CRM solution that saves millions of dollars each year.
This case study describes how MSIT and SMSG implemented GSX using Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The primary objective of this effort was to migrate all users from Siebel to GSX in a multi-year migration. By analyzing the needs of SMSG and the capabilities of GSX, and by collaborating with SMSG on the deployment strategy, MSIT was able to successfully migrate users off Siebel and onto GSX.
MSIT supports over 30,000 SMSG professionals. SMSG manages sales relationships with more than 120,000 business customers and more than 25,000 partners in over 100 countries worldwide. This case study reviews the MSIT planning and implementation of GSX using Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This case study is intended for business and IT executives and managers responsible for continuous improvement in sales force automation and enablement.
MSIT had historically supported SMSG with a highly customized Oracle Siebel-based CRM solution. Over time, however, the Siebel solution no longer adequately met the needs of SMSG. Siebel had limitations that did not allow for feature separation between elements of the business: due to Siebel's single-tenant architecture, a feature had to be either enabled for all users or disabled as whole.
Productivity also slowed as performance was burdened by heavy customization, and the demands of more than 170 local applications throughout the organization, which had been created over time to meet business needs that were not provided by the Siebel core. The local applications made for extremely slow performance on most tasks, and a support plan that was no longer intentional or predictable. These local applications also magnified Siebel maintenance costs, and inhibited the integration testing of new applications in development.
Meanwhile, Microsoft Dynamics CRM provided features that fit MSIT's needs for supporting the sales force—particularly the ease with which both developers and end users could interface. Microsoft Dynamics CRM also gave MSIT the ability to create unique user experiences for each business team that required them. This architecture—including built-in Microsoft® .NET extensibility— offered low-risk configuration abilities to developers. Additionally, using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as an application platform (rather than running separate applications on the side) provided a more unified, intuitive user experience.
MSIT performed an in-depth assessment of Siebel, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and SMSG user needs, which resulted in a decision to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and to retire Siebel. Due to the number of users, the decision was made to make the transition in a multi-year move. However, MSIT and SMSG also determined that a drawn-out migration process would slow adoption momentum; thus, a decisive shutdown point for Siebel was a necessity. Furthermore, the lack of a structured communication strategy and ongoing user engagement during deployment would compromise the rollout experience, particularly for users who felt their needs were not being heard. Low adoption numbers for an enterprise migration of this scale would ultimately translate to a poor investment by both SMSG and MSIT.
MSIT worked closely with SMSG and the Microsoft Dynamics product group to develop GSX, a feature-rich, easy-to-adapt tool built on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 platform.
Implementing GSX to replace Siebel was the most aggressive IT project in Microsoft history. This changeover would potentially affect over 30,000 data users and would have a multi-year migration window. Yet as large as this project was, MSIT saw an opportunity to better understand its constituent business group's operations, and for SMSG to better understand what MSIT could do for them.
Forging a Business/IT Partnership
Key to successfully implementing GSX was a working partnership between SMSG and MSIT. Both sides worked together to engage users, understand and document their requirements, and drive adoption by demonstrating the superiority of the tool, all at local levels, rather than by executive mandate.
A comprehensive model for managing SMSG and MSIT communications included a variety of stakeholders in decision-making. A result of this business and IT partnership was that the process of helping users adjust to the change from Siebel to GSX—often a difficult challenge in enterprise-level deployments—was positively impacted. Engaging local user teams was easier because GSX was identified as a business-driven effort, and not simply an MSIT or executive mandate. A structured, diverse governance model allowed for direct dialogue between users and engineers. User groups were invited to view early iterations of the tool so that they could explore its capabilities and provide feedback. This proactive dialog coupled with the shutoff countdown urgency gave GSX leadership an effective message for adopters: We heard your requirements; this change is coming, and here is how you can prepare for it.
Building Local Adoption Teams
MSIT used local adoption teams to achieve a smooth and thorough transition of all users from Siebel to GSX. Local adoption teams were populated with users and stakeholders from both SMSG and the local MSIT groups. Local adoption teams were created for all affected countries around the world, and were essential to adoption of GSX on an enterprise level.
Each local adoption team included the following members:
- Business Relationship Manager (BRM) - drove communications with the local executive sponsor.
- Field Solution Manager (FSM) - primary point of contact between local users and stakeholders, and MSIT.
- Business Integration Lead - a sales organization representative that was nominated by each sales division, who assessed GSX change impact and tailored the implementation approach to help ensure local adoption.
- Super Users - tested the solution stability, built awareness in the local sales team, and acted as subject matter experts (SME) on the solution. Provided their local teams with focused guidance and assistance for using the new tool.
Figure 1. Local adoption teams comprise a variety of roles and functions
FSMs are MSIT employees. Within the GSX local adoption team, the FSM communicated the most directly with the GSX deployment project managers. By appointing an FSM to both advocate for local users' needs and relay important expectations from the GSX team, the MSIT/business partnership was able to derive a single point of information and accountability for change management as it pertained to adoption of the solution. The FSM partnered with both the adoption teams and the GSX team to ensure smooth implementation by driving requirements, deployment, and GSX adoption from a central, visible team position. Each FSM was assigned to a specific sales division, and wherever possible was located on site at the sales division's facilities throughout the GSX implementation.
Another important duty of the FSM was to facilitate the development of user-centered training and other readiness programs for the GSX solution. Working closely with users, an FSM could customize GSX training by focusing on specific workflows that were important to that sales division's users. The flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics CRM made it easy to engage individual groups of trainees by showing them GSX views that produced data with which the users were familiar.
Once each group of local users were fully trained, the FSM shifted the readiness focus to a sustain mode. In this mode, FSM ensured that users continued using GSX, and continued to realize its benefits. MSIT established metrics for determining how many users continued with GSX in the weeks and months beyond its initial rollout, and how many switched back to Siebel. The small percentage of users who switched back did so because GSX still did not meet all of their workflow requirements. By observing these metrics, MSIT was able to meet again with these user groups and gather the additional requirements, and in many cases, provide additional customization in GSX to serve the users' needs.
MSIT also provided feedback loops for users to share the positive and negative aspects of their GSX experience. When users reported bugs or suggested improvements for GSX, the FSM reviewed their feedback and related it to the GSX and Microsoft Dynamics product teams.
Local adoption teams were successful on a variety of levels. By coordinating and centralizing adoption efforts and operations on a per-sales division basis, local adoption teams provided consistent guidance while also paying specific attention to each sales division's needs. FSMs were motivated to meet the project's strict adoption targets and frequently came up with creative ways of making GSX deployment information available to users—such as informal awareness sessions and established times where users could come to their office to ask questions about the new solution.
Most significantly, users across the enterprise clearly understood the high-level GSX deployment goal: shutting down Siebel so that the new solution would become a path forward for all users.
Implementing in Phases and Iterative Cycles
From a practical standpoint, GSX adoption meant migrating all users around the world onto the new tool so that Siebel could be shut down. SMSG still depended heavily on Siebel, and as in most enterprises, the users in each area were initially more comfortable completing their tasks with Siebel, even if it meant interacting with a slow system that mostly no longer met their specific needs.
Working together, MSIT and SMSG leadership positioned GSX as an intermediary step to running Microsoft Dynamics CRM in its native form. This approach made it possible for user groups to stay engaged with the deployment process and provide extensive feedback to both the field MSIT management and the GSX engineering team. Thus, much of the GSX implementation phase focused primarily around user engagement as the key to an effective rollout and maximizing overall solution value.
By following the local adoption team model, the GSX team was able to start the lengthy process of migrating users and applications to GSX. Implementation followed a phased approach: first to migrate were pilot users whose business needs were the most urgent, followed by early adopters, and then "fast followers" who were especially excited about switching to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM–based technology and wanted to be part of user testing early on. Finally, majority users—all remaining user groups who fit the adoption structure as it was designed—were migrated. Users were moved off Siebel on a strict shutdown schedule. This schedule was communicated ahead of time with individual user groups who could then plan for the transition to cushion the impact of the change. During this time, local applications were also migrated. Phased adoption cycles and iterative releases further helped meet user-focused implementation goals. By the end of two years, more than 16,000 users were using GSX (including most of Sales) and access to Siebel for those 16,000 users was shut off entirely. Access was also shut off for an additional 4,000 Siebel users who either had no business need for GSX or (in a few cases) had been migrated to an alternate solution that better met their requirements.
Across these deployment types, the GSX team made an early decision to distribute the tool in iterative, 90-day cycles. This amounted to more releases with fewer features in each release, rather than one monolithic release whose offerings might overwhelm users and might not accurately meet all of the teams' expectations. These iterative releases also resulted in closer interaction between the deployment teams and user groups on an ongoing basis. In this way, batches of feedback could be applied to discrete aspects of GSX functionality for the release, and GSX training was less overwhelming to users because each iteration was more narrow and progressive in its scope.
Getting to Zero Users: Executing a Decisive Siebel Shutdown Schedule
By the end of two years, although 20,000 users had been migrated off of Siebel, roughly 10,000 Siebel users remained. These were the user groups whose technical requirements made it the most difficult to transition, or whose users had the most issues with preparing their workflows to be GSX–ready. For the GSX team to keep the project on track, an executive announcement was issued for a decisive shutdown date for the old system, and a new plan was developed to meet that date. This plan, called the Siebel Retirement Experience (SRX), had a clear objective: zero users on Siebel, and zero Siebel-dependent local applications. This plan was implemented using the following best practices:
- Shifts in communication approach. One key SRX strategy was to communicate expectations for the pace of migration. Whereas the first waves of migrated users followed the locally-based model of adoption teams and FSMs, the remaining user migrations were given a special sense of urgency, which was reinforced by the stated shutdown date. This executive visibility and decisive schedule communications were necessary for making shutdown a priority for all remaining user groups, and for keeping the final stages of the GSX implementation on schedule.
- User profile–based migration groups. For the final push in getting to zero users on Siebel, organizing user groups by geography was not as helpful as it had been in the earlier phases. What remained was to determine the order in which capabilities would be available in GSX or in other tools, and then based on that order, identify the user profiles (users matching a set of required capabilities) in the order that they would be migrated. For example, the record hunter user profile, which needed to retrieve data but not to edit it, was migrated earlier than the report creator user profile, which required additional capabilities. The user profile-based approach made it easier to communicate expectations about what functionality would be available at what time, and in what tool. This also headed off confusion or unnecessary escalation of workflow support issues from the field.
- Finding non-GSX tools as needed. The GSX solution could not resolve all of the most specific user requirements—some workflows had specific requirements that were met by Siebel but were not part of the GSX solution. To meet these needs, the GSX team reached out to other groups across MSIT to migrate these users to alternate solutions.
Building and Following an Inclusive Governance Model
MSIT and SMSG developed a governance model for the new GSX system based on the same tenets that made the overall deployment successful: collaboration between MSIT and SMSG, and engagement between management and the local level of users and stakeholders. To embody these tenets, the GSX team created a governance board made up of members from key groups that were invested in the long-term success and value of GSX. These groups, as shown in Figure 2, represented the variety of stakeholders who contributed to the design, implementation, and adoption of GSX, and who benefited from its ongoing stability and usefulness as an enterprise-level solution.
Figure 2. GSX governance model
IT projects can frequently be misunderstood if communication about them is not well managed. Ensuring GSX project visibility at the highest levels of both MSIT and SMSG helped to communicate the message to users that GSX was important to Microsoft as a business, and that this was not SMSG telling MSIT what it needed or of MSIT pushing the latest technology refresh on SMSG users. In addition, all governance board members had specific shared commitments in their role descriptions involving measurable goals for sustained GSX success.
Beyond the GSX governance board, some other important related groups were also included: the MSIT Operations team, which continued to triage support requests and monitor overall system health; and the Microsoft Dynamics product teams, which continued to receive valuable input about GSX user experiences, and then directed that feedback into future product feature requests.
The MSIT implementation of GSX was deemed a success. Measurable results were captured in four primary ways: TCO benefits, productivity gains, development agility (time-to-field), and user satisfaction.
The GSX implementation saw an overall $10M US reduction in operational and capital expenditures. Much of this reduction was the result of the simplified GSX solution architecture. From a capital expenditure standpoint, the smaller hardware footprint meant fewer systems to purchase, integrate, and maintain. Operationally, it meant fewer support calls—previously, most trouble tickets were related to data problems with Siebel.
Because GSX was developed to support a sales organization, its efficiency could also be measured in terms of its operational cost relative to the number of sales opportunities being managed. By this measure, the operational cost advantages alone of GSX (along with its counterpart, Partner Sales Experience (PSX)) over Siebel represent a four times greater savings every month, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. GSX savings over Siebel in operational expenditures
Not included as part of these numbers are the additional savings to each of the sales divisions that were achieved by simplified overhead for application development. By replacing in excess of 170 local applications with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM–based subscription services, MSIT avoided the need for excessive specialized read/write connections into the CRM data store. This resulted in better performance and a greatly reduced need for custom development and ongoing maintenance.
Another way of measuring the GSX solution's efficacy as a sales tool was to ask how much more time the new system saved sales users in the field. With the increases in efficiency and performance with the new interface over Siebel, and the easy adaptability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to support multiple workflows, sales personnel now had more time to service their contacts and customers directly. Based on an aggregate savings of $100/hour times 1.5 hours per week of time saved for each seller, and a sampling of 9,500 sellers supported by GSX, the total productivity recovery amounts to $74 million US per year. Figure 4 illustrates the calculation of this answer.
Figure 4. GSX savings in sales personnel productivity
In addition, after several months of using the new solution, SMSG cited GSX as helping to have increased win rates (ratio of closed deals per number of opportunities), increased pipeline velocity (time frame within which a deal closes), and improved sales planning.
Increased Agility: Rapid Time-to-Field
Aside from operational and capital expenditures, GSX also had a positive TCO effect by providing MSIT with a flexible, scalable CRM platform, and by reducing the development overhead for future functionality. By leveraging Microsoft Dynamics CRM architecture and Microsoft Silverlight®, GSX delivered solutions to business problems in the field much more rapidly than if the same solutions were subject to excessive development and integration testing cycles.
Moreover, the multi-tenant capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 enabled a richer user experience for all user groups involved. MSIT leveraged this capability to provide differentiated user experiences based on a single data set and common solution architecture. This flexibility along with the gains in performance and simplicity that Microsoft Dynamics CRM provided meant that MSIT was able to deliver faster results to users who required workflow-specific support.
Greater User Satisfaction
The GSX solution's ease of use has been a primary contributor to its success in both adoption and satisfaction. The user-centered design that drove GSX development meant that rich experiences could be tailored and delivered to each group. In a similar way, the GSX design's basis in data quality meant that users could interact intuitively, knowing what data to enter and where to enter it.
GSX performance fit the pace of business in even more scenarios. As one sales manager described it, a recent last-minute request from his executive manager to load all license renewal opportunities for the coming year took 30 minutes to respond to, when previously it would have taken him most of a day.
How MSIT Quantifies User Satisfaction
MSIT uses a net satisfaction (NSAT) index to quantify users' satisfaction with an MSIT solution, both at the point of introduction and over time. The formula for NSAT is derived from a simple questionnaire, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Calculating NSAT at Microsoft
At Microsoft, each user group is measured in two ways with NSAT: landed NSAT is measured at the time of initial deployment, and sustained NSAT is measured twice per year starting six months after the initial deployment. Notice that in this formula, a Satisfied rating is considered neutral, but negatively impacts the total.
In the case of GSX, the rate of both adopting and sustaining users in the new system continues to remain high. To date, more than 16,000 sales personnel in 89 countries are using GSX, representing greater than 90% adoption across the entire sales force. NSAT statistics peaked at 175, with an average across all deployment waves of 150. This compares to an NSAT score of 36 when Siebel was first implemented in SMSG, and a maximum score of 86 achieved by the Siebel solution during its useful life.
A Future-Oriented Solution
GSX was conceived and executed based on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 platform. MSIT continues to upgrade the GSX solution by planning for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, and considering Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for future use. These upgrades will provide further return on investment (ROI) in the form of increased self-service and further deployment flexibility, and new capabilities such as mobility and social media support. The GSX development and deployment projects have laid an important groundwork for managing these changes, in large part, because they have already met the challenges of gaining widespread adoption and acclimating user groups to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM user interface.
Going forward, as the GSX solution continues to transform and as additional requests for features are made by user groups, new development will take the form of intuitive configuration in the GSX user interface, rather than custom development.
As with many MSIT projects, the deployment of GSX continues to yield best practices for Microsoft, including the following:
- Continue rigorously tracking deployment feedback, both from users and from deployment personnel themselves, even as the rollout project approaches the complex final stages of implementation.
- When an enterprise deployment spans many months, personnel restructuring in some groups can often leave empty spaces on the governance board. Work to keep all groups represented, even in the face of organizational change.
- Information produced during an enterprise deployment can have impacts beyond the project itself. Keep an open line of communication between the deployment project managers and other business teams—such as product groups, executives, and marketing—so that those teams can benefit from the experience.
MSIT successfully completed its multi-year migration from Siebel to Microsoft Dynamics CRM using a GSX implementation. Where the needs of SMSG previously taxed MSIT resources by requiring ongoing development and maintenance of local applications, MSIT now uses GSX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, whose architecture provides agility, better trainability, and reduced support requirements. The successful execution of this migration from Siebel to Microsoft Dynamics CRM reduced TCO and gave valuable time back to SMSG personnel.
MSIT’s partnership with SMSG resulted in a successful migration, which has created tangible benefits across the organization. MSIT and SMSG developed stronger teamwork through collaboration, which resulted in a clearer understanding of each other's goals and needs. It also gave rise to a valuable and enduring discussion about how Microsoft teams can plan large-scale changes together, and work smarter as a global business.
The GSX implementation also demonstrated the ability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to scale to an enterprise level, and was a change agent for a core business unit at a major enterprise company. In GSX, MSIT now has a repeatable change management blueprint that it can leverage for future enterprise deployments.
By aligning the solution's requirements with specific business needs and workflows, MSIT found a way to implement a durable, user-approved technical and business solution that met the needs of both sides.
Products and Technologies
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM
- Microsoft Silverlight
- Microsoft .NET Framework
- Oracle Siebel
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