SQS explains its conversion to sales in the Cloud

28th Jul 2011

When SQS Group reorganised, it quickly became clear that spreadsheets were no longer up to the job of managing its sales and management across seven countries. The hunt for a 'fast and furious' sales application, but with enterprise strength, quickly led the firm to the door of Salesforce and the Cloud.

SQS has 30-year pedigree in software quality and testing with a presence across Europe, the US and beyond. Growth by acquisition meant that there was little consistency in sales reporting, as a combination of spreadsheets, emails and word of mouth were used across the region. This ad hoc way of reporting made it difficult for the company to accurately collate and forecast sales and meant that there was no central repository of sales prospects or customers.

Phil Codd, chief markets officer at SQS Group recalls: "We were working quite happily with spreadsheets, but then we reorganised into two regions and suddenly I had seven countries to look after and some were using spreadsheets and some weren’t. It was such a mess. Each week we’d be sent data and it would take a day to compile it into a report."

The company clearly needed a better way to manage its business and improve the timeliness and accuracy of its data. A list of the usual customer relationship management (CRM) suspects were quickly rejected. Oracle and Siebel were not seen as a natural fit, given the company’s Microsoft and SAP backbone, and SAP itself was rejected because of the time required to implement.

Sales Cloud 2 emerged as a contender, not because it was a Cloud solution, but because of Salesforce’s credentials as a trusted and familiar brand. The advantages of the Cloud, however, quickly became apparent. Codd remembers: "Once we made the decision to go for Salesforce it was easy to establish support. From the CIO point of view, we didn’t need hardware or to train anyone or invest in additional infrastructure."

Although SQS is in the software business, it wanted to keep the project team small rather than pull people off billable jobs for clients, so the company called in specialist Salesforce consultancy Saaspoint to oversee the implementation. Most of the business requirements were fairly generic, but Saaspoint needed to tweak some elements to better fit a services business. Calling in outside help worked well for the company. By the end of March 2010, after an implementation time of just 40 days - and ahead of schedule - Sales Cloud 2 went live. Key to this fast turnaround was keeping things simple, so SQS chose not build in lots of constraints or rules that would slow the implementation down.

Says Codd: "If you can, get external help to give you a clear view of the company, it will help you get better results. Implementation was straightforward. The biggest issue was cleansing the data and with the benefit of hindsight, Codd says they would have put even more emphasis on data cleansing. Today, the company has much more of a handle on sales performance across the region and is able to forecast two quarters ahead. With sales leads held centrally, there’s also far more visibility across the region."

Codd comments: "I can get a view of exactly where we are minute by minute, second by second. We have rolled out across the seven countries and they have a uniform look. We’re building up a better profile of our clients and it means we can market much better. We have much more intelligence about client information and we’re building better ways of following up and managing leads."

The company is now looking beyond sales, marketing and opportunity management and investigating how to make process improvements in sales. Codd points out: "Cloud is going to be a strategy. When we look at key systems that support our business, a high proportion are in the Cloud or will be moving in that direction. This will be as and when - we haven’t created an imperative saying we must get to the cloud, but as and when we upgrade our software or there’s a major business change, we will always look to the Cloud."

Codd likens the difference between the traditional software route and a Cloud solution to the difference between driving a manual and automatic car. It’s a far easier ride with a Cloud solution. Simplicity, speed and scalability have revolutionised its sales reporting. Codd sums up: "We have an enterprise-wide solution that can scale up to where we want to scale up to literally at the flick of a switch. It’s so simple."


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