Portal Bears Fruits for Dhler Group

The Dhler Group has implemented a sales and distribution information system on the basis of mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) Version 4.0 including the Partner Product Ranges (PPR) component. Through the integration of SAP R/3 with mySAP CRM and SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW), information can now be exchanged within the group, and customer projects can be seamlessly planned, controlled, and managed. Dhler is using a globally available enterprise portal based on SAP Enterprise Portal (SAP EP) as its central access and application platform.

The Dhler Group revolves around fruits. As one of the leading providers of basic ingredients and intermediate products for the food and beverage industry, the company, which is based in Darmstadt, Germany, is committed to recognizing market trends at an early stage and rapidly turning them into innovative beverage concepts. With its 1,600 employees, Dhler supplies fruit juice concentrates, fruit preparations, flavors, and natural ingredients. The group also advises its customers and develops ideas and specific product solutions for them.

In order to strengthen the Dhler's marketing, sales, and service activities and provide even better support for its customers, most of which operate on a global scale, accurate information about markets, competitors, and products are a key factor for the company's success. In 2003, the group therefore decided to implement a global CRM solution. The business consultants axentiv were commissioned to design and implement a portal solution based on mySAP Business Suite.

Tracking trends and customer requirements
Customer relationship management is extremely important for the Dhler Group, which has a tradition of partnership with its customers in the food industry. Business is supported by "Integrated Beverage Solutions", which use trend monitoring and customer research to help Dhler to identify trends and customer requirements around the world, and to deliver the appropriate high-quality raw materials or fruit juice concentrates. The development of fruit-based ingredients for beverages, milk, and ice creams is one of Dhler core functions, but the enterprise takes an integrated approach to its activities, offering consulting for sales and marketing issues, detection media for quality control, sensory analyses, global technical support, the planning and construction of syrup facilities and blending equipment. This range of services requires effective coordination between organizational units across the whole group such as strategic product management, central product development, internal sales, and the whole of key account management.

"In the past, the people involved did not have a rapid way of viewing sales and distribution projects. As a result, field sales staff had to contact different people in development or product marketing, for example, to find out about the status of current sales projects," states Hartmut Klein, Dhler project manager for CRM implementation. "We wanted more transparency."

Standard software instead of custom development
Dhler wanted to use the CRM solution to determine the market situation more accurately, simplify the production of competitor analyses, and determine its own position in the eyes of customers, as well as to manage its sales and distribution projects. The company therefore wanted to enter an assortment list for each business partner, containing information on the products procured from Dhler and on the competitor situation. Dhler originally planned a custom development here. After evaluating the functionality offered with the Partner Product Ranges (PPR) in mySAP CRM 4.0, the company decided to implement the higher release 4.0 in a ramp-up project. Dhler was one of the first companies to introduce CRM 4.0 with the PC-UI (people centric user interface) Web interface. axentiv was therefore one of the first business consulting firms to implement the PPR functionality of Version 4.0.

"Ramp-up projects are always a challenge," states Markus Kleine-Vobeck, project manager at axentiv AG. "However, a decision in favor of mySAP CRM 4.0 was absolutely justified, because a custom development would have been far more costly."

In the first expansion phase of the CRM project, Dhler concentrated on the most important customer relationship management data. This includes current sales and distribution projects, competitors' products, and customers' technical requirements. The company uses this information to adapt its strategy to market developments even more quickly, to define action recommendations for sales employees, and to control sales capacities as effectively as possible.

Overview of projects and sales
The project began in July 2003. First, the project team, consisting of Dhler experts and axentiv consultants, drew up a rough concept, designed the architecture, and worked out a rough plan. In the subsequent conception phase, axentiv found that the requirements relating to project control could be met by the Opportunity Management component in mySAP CRM. Opportunity Management provides an overview of the status of all current and planned projects, and also enables future sales to be calculated more accurately. The conception phase came to an end in the middle of September 2003, just two weeks after SAP launched Release 4.0.

Once the technical infrastructure had been created, the project group drew up the detailed concept (business blueprint). Together with management, user department, and employees in the field, the team defined the relevant information and processes. A prototype was developed, and tested by key users. In March 2004, the project team released the pilot application for productive operation. The information on the company's products is transferred from the SAP R/3 Sales and Distribution component (SD) to mySAP CRM, where users from the sales department manually add further data, and also enter information on quantities, prices, classifications, for example. Today, around 150 employees in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the Benelux countries work with the CRM solutions. The company also plans to introduce the solution in other countries step by step.

Simple entries, low maintenance effort
Dhler mainly uses its CRM solution to support project control and accelerate project completion. The data from employees in departments such as product marketing or development is recorded in the customer master and transferred to the projects. All those involved have access to the project status at any time. The project progress and the relevant contact people can be viewed at a glance. If delays occur, these are also easy to see.

CRM at Dhler
It is also important for Dhler to be aware of their business partners' technical production requirements, such as which raw materials can be processed or which filling technology is used, for example. Armed with this information, the sales department is able to offer or develop exactly the right products to meet the customer's requirements.

"As solutions in the CRM area depend on acceptance and use by sales employees, data entry must be very simple," states Werner Scherer, manager of organization and IT in the Dhler Group. User-friendliness, alongside a low volume of data to be maintained and better enhancement options, was a key factor in Dhler's decision for a complete switch a portal technology. In order to exploit the full potential in sales, a second expansion phase is planned in which the CRM solution will be extended into a sales information with comprehensive analyses from the SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW). With this solution, the user will be able to call up all relevant information on a customer at the touch of a button.

"CRM is a business philosophy"
Management and sales staff now have the information that they need to be able to work in a more targeted way and thus even more successfully. CRM can determine which customers are of interest, which products still have potential, which trends are emerging, and how large the company's own market share is for certain customers or regions, for example. In addition, cross-selling opportunities can be identified and exploited more easily. "CRM solutions are only successful if customer relationship management is seen as a business philosophy, and not an IT measure," says IT manager Scherer. "We have achieved our aim."

CRM solutions should be geared towards corporate goals and business processes. With axentiv's top-down procedural module, the project team's process experience and expertise in SAP technology, the company was able to rapidly implement a CRM solution that is fully tailored to the strategy of the Dhler Group. It increases the company's operational performance and produces measurable results.

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