BACKGROUND: Ushio America Inc. is a $545 million company challenging the global marketplace with future technologies for new and better lighting. Since 1967 Ushio, has developed its product technologies to include a wide variety of light sources used in many different markets. Ushio's primary product focus is on light system development and halogen lamp technology.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 and Microsoft SQL Server 7.0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We faced the dilemma of multiple ACT! databases that weren't shared with all of our organization. There were problems with transferring leads within our internal sales force and to remote offices. No one was able to share information fast enough. Work was often duplicated ­ if not lost. Because ACT! is flat in its database design, it couldn't scale to meet our growing business requirements. When we combined our databases we had more than 100,000 records. Archer Enterprise Systems (Archer ES) provided a solution that allowed our company to retain its initial investment in ACT! It also improved the ability of our sales organization to work together as a team and further support our customers by combining our multitude of ACT! databases into one customer-centric database.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Contact reports that took days to compile are now produced automatically. Sales managers can feel the pulse of sales activities. Best of all, customer service functions have been simplified and improved. Every day customer service reps were logging more than 100 e-mails. Without redundant data entry, about 80 percent of those activities have been eliminated. Other key features include "reporter," which allows drag-and-drop custom report writing and automatic standard reports at both server and workstation levels, and "sales library," which easily distributes price lists, proposals and presentations, etc. An ACT! to SQL Utility (ASU) provides seamless transformation of data from ACT! databases for rapid configuration and implementation. Most importantly, the power, scalability and ease of use made it the most cost-effective solution for our company. We now have a CRM (customer relationship management) solution that can grow with us.

STRENGTHS: Among the primary benefits is ACE-Sync, an advanced synchronization component that provides quick and effortless background synchronization of ACT! data. There are no interruptions to workflow from either local or remote connections. It gives sales teams real-time changes to key selling data while management gets up-to-the-minute information.

WEAKNESSES: When importing information from ACT! into the SQL Link Utility, there are icons in the system tray that indicate the migration stages of data. Depending on database size, the indicator can appear to "lock up." It's a false impression because the system is operating, but it's time-consuming to have to check and ensure that it's still in operation.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We have more than 10 years of sales information in ACT! To change to a different front-end application would have been a difficult, time-consuming and costly situation. Archer Enterprise 4.0 allowed us to leverage our investment in ACT! and has given our company the ability to combine customer relationship information from six sales offices into one centralized database. We're implementing team concept selling on a level we've never achieved before ­ it's literally transforming how we do business!

DELIVERABLES: The application serves more than 80 people across our organization and provides timely, reliable synchronization across multiple departments. It's enabling really effective team selling. Archer ES has been responsive to our business needs and has continually proven itself to be a strategic business partner for our CRM needs today and in the future.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Toll-free customer support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, and we have access to a secure Internet site which holds and updates on-line technical knowledge, user support and posts tips and techniques.

DOCUMENTATION: Included with our purchase we received on-line help, user manuals (on CD-ROM) and ASU manuals along with a complete installation guide. All documentation is easy to follow.

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