Implementation of SAP CRM and SAP BI for Mentor Graphics
How specialist SAP consultants, De Villiers Walton, took SAP customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) to the next level for progressive global technology specialist, Mentor Graphics.
When your business provides highly technical services for clients all over the world, its corporate and operational requirements need to be supported by a highly functional software platform.
Mentor Graphics, an industry leader in the high-tech field of electronic design automation, knows this well. The firm, which has its headquarters in the US and more than 70 offices worldwide, offers innovative products and solutions that help engineers and technology companies to overcome design challenges in the complex world of chip and board design.
To support essential processes across the company, including global sales and the generation of corporate data, Mentor Graphics worked collaboratively with an expert team from De Villiers Walton on a major SAP project which involved upgrading its existing platform and moving all sales force automation (SFA) systems across its different operating territories to a single software platform.
Integrating essential CRM
Throughout its almost 30 year history, Mentor Graphics has captured and managed its customer data based on a regional view, a channel-specific view, and a product-based view. Yet this essential customer data was housed in multiple disparate systems, which prohibited the organisation from achieving consistent analysis and reporting and prevented the customer data being leveraged in a way that would support the organisation in its worldwide channel strategy.
“We have recently deployed SAP CRM to the entire organisation,” says Mentor Graphics World Trade Organisation Manager of programmes and events, Julie Schroeder. “We have had SAP enterprise resource planning in-house for a number of years, but SAP CRM is fairly new to us.”
In total, Mentor Graphics had four different sales force automation tools. “Sales force functionality has been around for many years,” says Schroeder. “A lot of companies built and brought solutions to the market in the last decade but SAP was amongst the last to do so. Prior to SAP CRM being introduced, we were working with several other vendors including Onyx, SalesLogix and Siebel Sales, principally because they had been operating in the space for a lot longer than SAP.”
The primary motivator for moving to a single SAP CRM system was the potential to integrate the sales force component with the back office. In doing so, the company saw the opportunity to save maintenance and licensing costs.
Evolving customer contact
“We first started talking to De Villiers Walton in 2008,” says John Birchall, IT Manager for World Trade Solutions and Integration Services. “The firm that we were working with prior to DVW was missing the expertise we needed in solution architecture, so we contracted DVW because they had exactly the skill sets that we were looking for and asked their team to complete the consolidation of all our sales force automation applications into SAP CRM.
“In my view, a good solution architect needs to know all aspects of the IT discipline and which parts to bring in at any time. Most crucially, they need to be able to construct and document an overall solution that both the business teams and IT teams can understand. In De Villiers Walton we found a firm that could communicate with the business, understood the application and was able to create a direction for how we should implement the business requirements into the application.”
The work that De Villiers Walton was engaged to carry out primarily involved upgrading and rolling-out SAP systems across Mentor Graphics’ different operating territories, including re-architecting the organisation’s customer lifecycle from marketing to sales and fulfillment by establishing a single set of data requirements across the firm.
“We saw an essential need to realign our internal customer data in order to be able to integrate our customer cycle from marketing to the back office,” says Mentor Graphics’ Julie Schroeder. “This was a major undertaking as it involved integrating almost 30 years of customer data which had been collected in different ways using different systems.
Mentor Graphics supports a vast amount of customers worldwide. Within each organisation, we might have hundreds of different contacts that we do business with or hope to do business with.
Our main goal was therefore to move our workforce to SAP CRM and give them the ability to conduct all of their routine activities in the system. The next phase of the project will involve aggressively looking at adding other functionality and really leveraging the benefits of being on a single system. In the short term, we anticipate that we will have the ability to better evaluate our customers and potential customers.”
One fundamental reason that the CRM project was crucial to Mentor Graphics in particular was the real need to co-ordinate its large potential customer base to create a clearer, more comprehensive record of individual client contacts operating in different geographies within global firms.
“In the early days, we worked very regionally with Europe, Japan, PacRim and the US all operating within their different spheres,” explains Julie Schroeder. “Now, with the continuing growth of large, global organisations it is necessary to get a clear picture of all contacts around the world and how they relate to Mentor Graphics.
To facilitate this, you need systems that will bring all the contact information together from these different locations and aggregate it in a meaningful way for sales coordination between worldwide territories.”
Better business intelligence
According to Mentor Graphics’ Business Systems Analyst, Mark Laferriere, De Villiers Walton supported an overhaul of the global firm’s business intelligence systems, rebuilding the reporting system ‘from the ground up’ and enhancing its capabilities.
“Before we began working with De Villiers Walton, our business intelligence systems were slow and forecast reports would take several minutes to generate,” he says. “DVW devised a way of integrating SAP with Excel. This approach was very successful and reports can now be generated in seconds.
As well as improving performance, now a lot of data transformation can be done ahead of time in Business Warehouse. Previously it had been necessary for each user to install Live Office to use a report. Now, they can simply open and use it, which means that they do not require any training and simply need a log-in and password.”
A further core aim of the BI project was to develop authorisation and visibility; “Improving visibility is incredibly useful as users don’t always want to see information about the whole of Europe, for instance, they may just want to retrieve data relating to Western Europe,” says Laferriere.
“De Villiers Walton came up with a novel approach which leverages information from our web service page within our reports and presents each user with the ability to access data that is most relevant to them. As a result, they are able to access the data that they need quickly and don’t need to spend time generating their own queries.
In future, we are hoping to conduct a further project which would enable us to connect documents from within the sales cycle in SAP, including the initial contact, quotes and sales orders. This should allow us to achieve ‘forecast relief’ which ensures that once a sales opportunity has been confirmed it is not calculated twice in the projected sales figures.”
A job well done
Throughout its different projects with Mentor Graphics, De Villiers Walton remained focused on ensuring that all its work was business driven and succeeded in removing some of the complexities that are often associated with SAP. “DVW provided essential support in bringing together master data from across our different business systems,” says Julie Schroeder. “This has, in turn, enabled us to align our marketing, sales and order fulfillment data across the company. Effectively, we have now created a foundation for greater SAP integration in the future.”