KPMG, a global leader in professional services, has a strong presence in South Africa, with offices in all major centres including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Bloemfontein, East London, Nelspruit, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth and Secunda. With over 3 000 employees and more than 250 partners, it is one of the largest audit, tax and advisory firms in the country.
During 2005, in support of the firm’s overall growth strategy with specific focus on increasing top-line revenues, KPMG in South Africa embarked on a drive to use world-class technologies to assist its professionals in more strategically and efficiently managing opportunities and relationships with existing clients and new targets.
Up to this point, non-core information about client companies and key people was very much the property of individual partners and employees and was scattered across hundreds, if not thousands, of separate address books and spreadsheets. KPMG did have a contact management system but, says executive director for sales and marketing Danie van Heerden, this was “essentially a glorified mailing list” and there was no real incentive for employees to use it.
This lack of co-ordinated information obstructed the firm’s communication with its client base: it took days of effort to compile a company-wide mailing list and in some cases contact information was substantially out of date.
Similarly, although KPMG did have an opportunity tracking system in place, it wasn’t being used consistently across the firm and was cumbersome to maintain, with the result that “everyone just did their own thing, as they saw fit”. Yet with hundreds of opportunities in the pipeline at any given time, KPMG needed a reliable way to identify the most promising, determine the next action and notify the people who needed to act.
“If all the system achieved was to get us to talk more about our clients, we’d have been happy” – Danie van Heerden
KPMG executives realised that to achieve their growth targets they needed to create an integrated account management process, incorporating both contact management and opportunity tracking, supported by an appropriate, easy to use information system.
Working closely with service provider Liquid Thought, KPMG decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM together with the Axonom Powertrak portal add-on to offer easy access to the system for casual users. The system was customised to adapt it to KPMG’s proposals and account management processes, practically supporting the way that the firm does business.
“We knew that significant customisation would be required, bringing in the Powertrak relationship mapping functionality and portal accessibility, and fully supporting our defined business processes,” says van Heerden. “Microsoft CRM is extremely open to the kind of customisation we wanted to do and offers a clear, non-disruptive upgrade path. We found that it offers a total cost of ownership that is lower than anything we could expect from comparable systems. Typical of any Microsoft product, we’ve also got an interface that’s second to none.”
Microsoft CRM now underpins and supports KPMG’s entire account management process (including contacts, accounts and opportunities), which relies on the co-operation of every one of its employees to use the system consistently across all disciplines and functions. “We effectively have over 3 000 sales people,” says van Heerden. “What Microsoft CRM has helped us to do is to enable even a first-year audit clerk who spots an opportunity at a client to record it, and be confident that a partner will see it and allocate it to the right business unit for action. It’s as close to total intelligence in this context as we could hope to get.”
From the start, both KPMG and Liquid Thought knew that getting everyone in the firm to actually use the system would be the biggest challenge and that, without this, the implementation couldn’t be successful. By its nature, KPMG is staffed by independent thinkers – and far too many had seen failed CRM implementations at other firms for them to be anything but skeptical about the ease-of-use or benefits.
A simple directive to use Microsoft CRM would never work. Instead, KPMG designed and implemented a carefully crafted two-year change management programme to win people over to the system by clearly demonstrating its benefits.
“If you add up all the time we’ve spent on it, change management has been by far our biggest investment in this project," comments marketing director, Carl Ballot.
The programme included:
* A full-time change manager with previous experience of the firm and its culture, appointed for the full first year of the project. After that, change management responsibilities devolved to the full-time CRM administrator and supervisors.
* A one-day account management training workshop, at which employees learned the principles of the firm’s new approach and process alongside the basics of how to use the Microsoft CRM system.
* Eight in-depth workshops with individuals who were identified as being critical to the success of the implementation.
* Business unit heads were asked to nominate CRM champions who were specifically trained and motivated to achieve outstanding adoption and usage rates in their business units.
* Early on, a specific client service team that had enthusiastically adopted the system was identified and given lots of additional coaching. They were also profiled throughout the firm as account management role models.
* The change managers also identified power users in each business unit for additional training and support. Interventions such as these created incentives to use the system by rewarding employees not only with training but also with firm-wide public recognition and acknowledgement by senior management.
* A specialist Microsoft CRM help desk was established early on as a joint venture between the IT call centre and the sales and marketing team.
* Change managers listened carefully to user feedback, including being sensitive to ‘corridor talk’.
* Senior executives provided clear support and consistent messaging, making it clear right from the top that Microsoft CRM is one of KPMG’s most critical business systems.
* Communication was critical, all the way through. KPMG communicates internally in a number of ways, including through posters in common areas as well as through e-mail. The marketing team ensured that posters mentioned CRM at least once a month, with consistent positive reinforcement of key messages. A “Winning Business” e-newsletter with a focus on growth was launched, always mentioning CRM as well.
* CRM is positioned as a common application in the normal way of doing business at KPMG. As such, the extraordinary emphasis on CRM is decreasing over time to allow this to simply emerge as a tool that we use, much like Outlook and other every day applications. With this approach, it is included in all core training as appropriate and not just in CRM-specific training courses.
Throughout, KPMG emphasised that Microsoft CRM was not a goal in itself but rather a key support for enabling and supporting the important account management business process. Thus, for example, posters would practically ask people to make sure their diaries were up to date, given Microsoft CRM’s close integration with Microsoft Outlook, and that contact details were regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.
Another success factor, says Ballot, was a strong three-way partnership between Liquid Thought as the vendor, the sales and marketing department as the business process owner and the IT services department as technical support providers.
“Every complex project is going to have problems, and when they happen you want to know that they’re going to be sorted out quickly and confidently,” he says. “A good relationship with your consultants takes a very high measure of trust and a pragmatic working relationship, which we have with Liquid Thought. They were completely open and honest with us, pushed back when necessary, and gave us the kind of guidance and advice we were looking for. The quality of the relationship has carried us through the inevitable moments when things didn’t go according to plan.”
Microsoft CRM, which most users access through the Axonom Powertrak portal interface, now contains all the company’s contact information as well as financial data sourced nightly from its core Practice Management System (Oracle). Usage has increased, says Ballot, “beyond the tipping point: More and more of our people are now using Microsoft CRM out of habit because it makes their lives easier, enhancing their capacity for service delivery and achieving key results. It is increasingly acknowledged that those who aren’t using the system yet are starting to lose out.”
Because it makes underlying financial data from the Oracle database easily visible, Microsoft CRM has also unexpectedly exposed any gaps in the underlying data or firm’s processes, resulting in improved efficiencies and overall quality of data.
KPMG in South Africa’s account management process, including its implementation of Microsoft CRM, is now considered a best practice within KPMG globally. The firm has hosted several discussions with other offices around the world to investigate CRM systems.