Britehouse partners with Barloworld Equipment on Africa's first SAP Cloud4Customer implementation

Rapidly deployed cloud-based CRM system brings digital ease and agility to industrial equipment sales, service and support across southern Africa.

In a six-month project impacting 350 users in 10 African countries, a combined Britehouse/Barloworld Equipment team of 12 people replaced Barloworld Equipment's standalone sales management solution with SAP's new Cloud4Customer (C4C) hosted customer engagement solution.

Using an agile approach, the team managed to do the bulk of the implementation in two months. The functional configuration was completed before the December holiday period; following the break, the focus was on reporting, the remaining 20% of configuration and business readiness.

"This was the fastest SAP implementation with enterprise-wide impact with which I have been involved," says Barloworld Equipment general manager, sales and supply chain, Lloyd Thomas.

The sole dealer for CAT earth-moving machines, power systems, and related mining and construction equipment and a representative for Rotary blasthole drilling equipment in all its African territories, Barloworld undertook the implementation primarily because its 12-year-old existing system required onerous synchronisation in order for users to work offline.

"We opted for C4C because it appeared not only to be able to solve our synchronisation issues, by providing on and offline transaction capability, but also to give us a number of new options," says Barloworld Equipment E-process manager, Andrew Kerr. "It would bolt on to our existing platform. So, it would enable us to consolidate master data management. It would give us mobility options we hadn't had before. And it would give us a real-time flow of information and communications.

"However, we were concerned that the customisation we had done in SAP might create integration issues. And, given that ours would be the first C4C implementation in Africa and that C4C was very new, we wanted clear evidence that our existing SAP instance, which had been implemented on-premises before the cloud came into being, would work comfortably with a cloud solution."

Approval for the implementation was given when, using an agile approach, the Britehouse and Barloworld teams demonstrated in a two-week proof of concept that the flow of information and processes could be produced in C4C.

As a hosted CRM solution that forms part of the overall SAP Customer Engagement and Commerce stable, C4C allows customers to extend the data that resides in on-premises CRM, SAP ECC, and BI to transactional systems designed to make sales planning and execution more effective. The solution also integrates to service, marketing, and e-commerce solutions.

"More business professionals use cloud solutions from SAP than any other cloud vendor in the world. Indeed, SAP is the cloud built for business. We are committed to delivering the innovation and agility companies need to defeat complexity and do highly sophisticated things, simply," said Chris Willcocks, Director General Business and Partner Operations, SAP Africa. "We applaud the way in which partners like Britehouse are embracing both innovation and simplicity to drive efficiencies and ROI."

"SAP solutions are being designed to be more agile, in the sense that they can be implemented in months rather than years," says Britehouse CEC manager Stephen Wardle. "As with SAP's Rapid Deployment Solutions, which are built around standard industry-specific processes, vanilla C4C gives you CRM best practice out of the box.

"It therefore achieves excellent time to value. C4C gives most organisations a 90% functionality fit – and extends sales, service, and support into the field in real-time. It's rare to achieve so much with as little effort as C4C makes possible. That said, you still need high-level data management, change management, and project management skills as well as solid business consulting capability to help your customer make appropriate and forward-looking decisions about the implementation."

User adoption for the C4C solution has been high; C4C technology uses Web 2.0 standards; this is very similar to what Barloworld employees already use in their personal lives [Office1]. In addition, the implementation has given sales, service, and support staff direct access to detailed customer information that had previously been available only to the finance department, thereby strengthening pipeline management.

Salespeople can now get a complete overview of business activity with a customer before going into the field. This positions them to target their sales accurately. In addition, C4C's reporting functionality allows salespeople to manage their pipeline more effectively and managers to be more strategic.