BACKGROUND: Computational Systems, Inc. (CSI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Emerson Electric Co., is the global leader in advanced maintenance technology. CSI designs, produces and markets an integrated family of advanced predictive maintenance products and services for use in large scale, continuous-run manufacturing facilities worldwide. The Vantive system is used by 160 sales and support professionals, including more than 60 mobile users located throughout the United States.

PLATFORMS: CSI uses Microsoft SQL Server 6.5, NT 4.0 and clients running Windows 95 and NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: CSI wanted an integrated database for tracking its customer interactions to have a complete history of all customer relationships including several Fortune 1000 accounts. Prior to implementing Vantive Sales and Vantive Support, CSI had a customer support system and a separate sales force automation system. The systems are no longer produced or supported by their vendors. Furthermore, the products ran on separate databases, which resulted in redundancy and inconsistency. CSI wanted to replace both systems and combine all sales, marketing and customer support information into a single database.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Qualified leads are entered and tied to events that generated the leads. Leads are converted to opportunities where the salespeople can track the prospects' interests, needs, conversations, etc. Quotes are entered into Vantive and linked to the opportunities. After the sale, customer support and customer success managers assist the customers throughout the deployment phase. The company uses the Vantive system to track and manage information, support requests and collect valuable feedback that can be used to improve documentation, training or product design. CSI focuses on customer loyalty by resolving customer issues as quickly as possible and consistently providing thorough follow up. The Vantive Enterprise is an integrated suite of Web-enabled software that automates sales, marketing, call center, help desk and field service operations. Vantive Enterprise is differentiated by its rich functionality, proven mobile solutions, component-based high-performance architecture and time- and cost-effective implementations. In 1999, CSI plans to upgrade its applications to Vantive 8.0, implement Vantive FieldService to enable field technicians to offer superior customer support and double the number of Vantive On-the-Go users. Internationally, CSI plans to deploy Vantive to more than 25 CSI distributors worldwide.

STRENGTHS: The Vantive Enterprise has numerous easy-to-use features and has the ability to seamlessly integrate with other systems and functions across the company. Its multitiered architecture, flexibility and ease of upgrades and maintenance perfectly fit our needs. The system is also scalable--CSI expects double the number of Vantive users over the next 12 months, but will not need to upgrade the server hardware. CSI is constantly adding new data but never experiences slow downs in performance.

WEAKNESSES: Vantive 6.0's merge utility is limited; however, this capability is enhanced in version 8.0 of Vantive's product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In selecting a front-office automation system, CSI agreed the most important features were seamless integration between applications, a single customer database, a client/server architecture, easy customization, scalability and integration with CSI's ERP system. Vantive satisfied all of CSI requirements for tight integration between applications with a single customer database. CSI found Vantive's technology to be both strong and stable.

DELIVERABLES: Reports generated from the Vantive solution service many departments within CSI: Vantive notifies the accounting department to begin the customer credit application process; marketing receives "leads" reports; and management receives reports on the overall service and support activities.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vantive Consulting played a key role during the gap analysis, as well as the design and implementation phases. After the implementation, Vantive provided a customer success manager who acts as the primary liaison between CSI and Vantive. CSI liked that idea so much, they have adopted it for their customers.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation tends to be very general, mainly because of the huge flexibility of the product. Vantive provides manuals for the out-of-the-box product, but CSI wrote its own manual for its customized version. The on-line manuals that can be downloaded from the Vantive Web site are a huge benefit.

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