Magazine Article | November 1, 2003

Improve Customer Service And Eradicate Labor Costs

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Integrating its CRM (customer relationship management) solution and accounting system allowed one company to eliminate support costs and cut labor by 30 hours a week.

Integrated Solutions, November 2003

To operate a business efficiently, total integration of the front and back ends is often necessary. If a system is not fully integrated, you can run into data integrity problems. This cuts into a business' labor costs and profits. One pharmaceutical distributor is very familiar with this situation, but it found a way to rectify it. By integrating and upgrading its CRM (customer relationship management) solution and accounting system, the company eliminated labor costs and remained profitable.

Lack Of Integration Proves Costly
Without a fully integrated system on the front and back ends, Chapin Medical Company (Corona, CA) was losing money on unnecessary labor and support costs. Using an outdated CRM solution and accounting software, the pharmaceutical distributor could not integrate these two applications. "Not only was the total system not integrated, but applications within the system lacked integration. For example, the PO (purchase order) entry system was essentially a word processing program that did not tie in to inventory. This meant hours of manual entry and reconciliation every month," says Heidi Duarte, customer service supervisor at Chapin.

In the accounting department, similar problems were occurring. Using an older version of MAS 90 accounting software, double entry became a burden. "All accounting related information was pulled in the form of reports. These numbers had to be entered manually into MAS 90 software to be reconciled," says Duarte. Using this system, it would take employees three to four weeks a month to process financials. Chapin's CRM solution (telemarketing system) proved to be a costly solution because it was an off-the-shelf program, so it required almost constant upkeep by the service provider. Chapin's primary goal was to attain an integrated system that would link the CRM system with the accounting system.

Upgrade Rather Than Replace
Since Chapin was already satisfied with its MAS 90 accounting software from Best Software (Irvine, CA), the company chose to upgrade and customize its current MAS solution. That's when Chapin began looking into resellers of Best Software products and chose Blytheco (Laguna Hills, CA), an accounting systems consulting company, for the installation. Chapin also found Best Software's SalesLogix CRM solution to be a fit for its telemarketing needs. When the company upgraded to MAS 200 software, Dynalink Integration Link was used to integrate it with SalesLogix software. (Dynalink Software allows data transfer between SalesLogix and a company's accounting systems.) On the hardware side, Blytheco installed a MAS server, MAS SQL server, SalesLogix server, SalesLogix SQL server, and a Dynalink server.

Exporting the data from the old system into the new system was the most challenging integration issue. "Because we sell pharmaceuticals, our records have to be perfect. We needed to import a lot of the sales history to keep continuity," explains Duarte. It took the company three months to import a year of information (receiving, sales, cash receipts, etc.) from the old MAS system into the new one.

30 Hours Of Double Entry Weekly Eliminated
After about one year, the CRM and accounting systems were fully integrated and operating. Since the installation, Chapin has reaped the benefits. With the integration of SalesLogix and MAS, customer representatives can check inventory and replenishment schedules. This allows them to allocate product to customers before inventory arrives, improving customer service and sales cycles. Using the MAS software, monthly financials can be generated in 3 days at the close of the month, rather than the 15 to 20 days it took before. The 30 hours spent weekly on double entry has been reallocated to other business practices. And, three data entry positions have been eliminated, allowing the company to stay profitable amidst a severe market downturn it experienced shortly after the upgrade. Service and support fees have been almost eliminated and so have consulting fees.

Chapin is currently looking into a scheduler feature in the SalesLogix program that uses e-mail to notify salespeople of tasks. "For example, if an employee wants to contact accounts they haven't talked to in four weeks, they just enter that criteria and the system brings up a call sheet. It will even schedule the calls according to the user's schedule," says Duarte. The company plans to work with Best Software and Blytheco on this upgrade within the next year.