For many companies, corporate acquisitions are an essential part of enterprise growth. The potential downside can be isolated teams, processes and systems. Similar difficulties were holding DHL Global Forwarding (DGF) back from maximizing its opportunities, measuring sales effectiveness, and improving sales efficiency.
Is it possible to integrate companies, cultures and systems cost-effectively, deliver business benefits rapidly, and generate enthusiasm for the change among employees and customers?
To solve these challenges, DGF created a new business model focusing on enhanced customer relations and simplified business processes. This is supported by all-new central solutions based on SAP® Customer Relationship Management and SAP NetWeaver® Business Warehouse, jointly designed by IBM Global Business Services and SAP, based on combined skills, software, services and infrastructure. With assistance from IBM Global Business Services®, DGF delivered the solution to around 4,000 users in almost 100 countries, four months ahead of schedule.
Using customer feedback to drive efficiency
Part of Deutsche Post DHL, DGF is the group’s air, ocean and road freight forwarder. Services extend from standardized container transport to end-to-end solutions for industrial projects, and solutions tailored to specific sectors.
The company’s business model focuses on the brokerage of transport services between customers and freight carriers, consolidating shipments to achieve higher volumes, purchase cargo space at better conditions, and optimize network utilization. Over time, DGF acquired many of its smaller competitors, leading to a wide variety of inherited systems used to store and manage customer data. It was becoming increasingly difficult to gain the benefits from shared sales and marketing campaigns across geographies and sectors. Different offices might be serving the same customer without knowing it, duplicating sales and management efforts. Without an enterprise-level view of customer information, there was little or no opportunity to improve sales and marketing efficiency, which in turn limited growth potential.
Frank Schüler, Program Manager of the respective program at DHL Global Forwarding, explains: “We listen constantly to customer feedback, and our sales and marketing integration was raised as an area for improvement. Our concerns were that the existing fragmented systems were not able to support the kind of seamless operations we wanted, and could not produce the efficiency gains we were seeking.”
In a nutshell, DGF had too many individual systems, all providing slightly different – and unconnected – views of customer activity. In this environment, it was impossible to clearly and consistently measure profitability across global operations. Equally, the company lacked standardized global processes, making it difficult to operate efficiently.
Creating a single source of customer data
Information integration is subject to an enterprise-wide transformation program at DGF. As a first step, the sales and marketing issues were addressed as a self-contained project, both because it would offer fast time to benefit, and because it would act as a pathfinder for the wider enterprise program.
Labeled ‘FrontRunner’, the project is designed to better manage customer needs, and enable global cooperation through a single, information-driven system. FrontRunner would also act as a learning experience for DGF, helping the company to better understand how new processes and systems could be rolled out globally, imposing standards and simultaneously enthusing the local offices.
As the basis for FrontRunner, DGF selected SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM), covering opportunity, campaign and sales performance management. For advanced analytics and reporting, the company chose SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW). As part of more general process improvements, DGF selected document management provided by IBM FileNet®, and refreshed the local office systems Microsoft Windows 7 desktops and Microsoft Outlook clients for email.
Frank Schüler comments, “SAP Customer Relationship Management provides the scalability and robust design that is ideally suited to a global, enterprise project such as this. SAP CRM offers advanced functionality in every aspect of sales, marketing, campaigns and customer management, and builds the single, integrated customer view that we need. Using SAP CRM across all our offices, we can measure and improve our sales efficiency and, most importantly, serve customers better by understanding in more detail what they are actually doing and what they want to do.”
DGF implemented SAP NetWeaver BW to provide analytical capabilities based on the data collected by SAP CRM. Whereas previously it was difficult or even impossible to collect, standardize and understand data from multiple independent systems, the SAP applications produce information that is immediately available, helping DGF understand customer interactions without delay.
Accelerating business value
FrontRunner was executed in two phases, as a pilot and then as a rollout, designed help the team learn how to industrialize the process steps. The nine-month pilot covered design, build and deploy for users in Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, South China and New Zealand. The industrialized rollout covered around 4,000 users in almost 100 countries, divided into three global regions: Americas, Asia Pacific, and EMEA. In support of the project, IBM drew on highly skilled global resources in India, provided both speed and value.
CRM Frontrunner successfully went live in the pilot countries in April 2012, paving the way for the CRM Frontrunner AMS Global Support and the CRM Frontrunner Global Rollout projects.
“At eight months, FrontRunner proved to be one of the fastest SAP CRM and SAP NetWeaver BW implementations ever completed,” says Frank Schüler. “We limited the scope rigorously to make the industrialization and speed possible, allowing us to deliver business value, four months ahead of schedule. Of course, we also had strong support from both IBM and SAP to achieve this record-speed deployment, as well as 100 percent support from the DHL executive management team.
Roger Crook, CEO of DGF, comments, “This was a fantastic achievement by the whole team. Within just a few months we have become one of the largest installed bases for SAP CRM and achieved a very fast global rollout, well perceived by our partners.”
Trusted transformation partner
DGF selected IBM Global Business Services as its strategic partner, working as a team to design and develop a new standardized business process model and to provide the project implementation services. This included a series of workshops involving hundreds of DGF staff from around the world, enabling them to contribute to the solution and define the future working environment as active participants in the transformation process.
Frank Schüler explains, “From a program management perspective, the assistance from IBM was invaluable. We had to factor in cultural differences, process change and the underlying IT upheaval, and at the same time deliver a standard solution, globally. We listened to the countries’ concerns, worked them into the worldwide process model, defined the functional scope and created the IT specification. The ability to bring in IBM specialists from all over the world into the central team made it possible to have a strong connection into each of the almost 100 different countries involved.
“IBM Global Business Services and SAP partnered at every step along the way, from gaining buy-in at the pilot stage to daily progress reporting on the industrialized rollout. The IBM team showed that it had the people, tools, project-management skills, experience, pragmatism and can-do spirit, combined with knowledge of DGF’s business needs, to make FrontRunner a success.
“The global strength and presence meant that IBM was able to provide both resources at the local offices and at the strategic level. In addition, the long-standing strategic partnership between IBM and SAP made for a smooth and highly professional cooperation between the two companies. A key advantage was the global scale and reach of both companies. It would be difficult to imagine tackling a challenge of this size without such large and experienced partners.”
Exploiting strategic outsourcing and application management
As part of the accelerated rollout, IBM Global Technology Services® provides a fully outsourced hosting service – including application management, maintenance and operations – for the central SAP solutions.
The solutions are hosted in a cloud environment across two state-of-the-art data centers near Frankfurt, Germany. The data centers house duplicate environments in an active-active configuration, with global server load balancing to share user traffic between the two sites.
In the unlikely event of a failure at one site, the other can take over its workload in less than 15 minutes to ensure minimal business disruption. Each site has sufficient spare compute and storage capacity to support 100 percent of DGF’s workload, and the use of redundant critical components eliminates single points of failure and dramatically reduces the possibility of outages. The SAP software runs on IBM AIX® on IBM Power® 770 servers with IBM DB2® information management software. IBM PowerVM® virtualization technology allows IBM to support DGF’s SAP landscape in a fully secure cloud environment alongside other clients’ landscapes, while the combination of IBM PowerHA® and IBM DB2 high availability disaster recovery (HADR) handles the replication of data and applications between the two data centers. The SAP data itself is stored on IBM System Storage® DS8700 disk systems with expansion frames, virtualized and managed as a single pool of cloud storage using IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller technology.
Finally, the IBM FileNet document management solution runs on a separate cloud environment built on IBM System x®3650 class servers with Intel Xeon processors.
The service level agreements (SLAs) offered by IBM Application Management Services focus on ensuring a consistently excellent end-user experience during normal working hours in all of the countries covered by FrontRunner. In practice, given all of the different time zones involved, this means round-the-clock support. IBM provides these services from two centers in India, which work three shifts daily in a highly streamlined support process.
For FrontRunner, IBM offers seamless end-to-end support, and commits to dozens of SLAs relating to global user experience. Even where a performance issue relates to the one part of the solution that is provided by DGF itself – the Wide Area Network (WAN) – IBM nevertheless takes full responsibility for resolving it, managing the work of the local DGF teams as required.
Transforming for global clarity
Key enablers for the new standardized business processes at DGF were the cleansing of existing data and the creation of a single central database for global sales. This enables a consistent, 360-degree view of global customers, which will help dramatically improve DGF’s ability to analyze and improve performance.
By working with IBM Global Business Services to standardize and integrate its global systems, to improve the reliability and consistency of data, and to streamline its processes, DGF expects to improve productivity, cut costs and promote growth. Beyond this optimization of global operations, the transformation will help DGF to capture, manage and analyze big data to discover new insights and improve the speed and accuracy of decision making.
Finally, the project will help DGF to realize its goal of a customer-driven strategy by enabling the company to use real-time insight from customers to create targeted offers and to guide the development of its future products and services. These capabilities will in turn allow the company to improve the loyalty and lifetime value of customers, promote greater competitive differentiation, and enhance profit margins.
Delivering sales efficiency and customer service
The FrontRunner project has now been handed over to the business as a production system, with very positive user feedback, thanks in part to IBM Global Technology Services taking responsibility for stability and business availability. Business results, such as improvements in sales efficiency and increases in marketing campaign results, will be gathered over time as the single customer view becomes embedded.
“The key benefits for DGF are the lessons learned about how to design and manage a global rollout of this scale,” comments Frank Schüler. “With our strategic partner IBM Global Business Services, FrontRunner proves that DGF can deploy a large-scale program on time, complete with user buy-in. We have created a global view of our customers, which previously seemed out of reach, and for the first time can implement metrics, such as percentage of opportunities closed.
“The ability to measure performance is a major step forwards in improving sales efficiency, all of which builds the case for our future business projects at DGF. Thanks to the SAP software and IBM’s competence in designing and deploying the solution, we are now confident in our ability to perform consistent global rollouts of the solution.
“IBM Global Business Services and SAP played a key role in FrontRunner’s successful rollout, and the strategic partnership has created a strong foundation for the next steps in DGF’s customer service journey.”