COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: June 2007

Medscheme oils the machinery of IT with CRM solution

28 June 2007

Enterprise software solutions provider i5 has deployed a CRM solution to one of the largest medical aid administration companies in South Africa; Medscheme, with an interesting twist: the company is not using CRM to manage customers, but rather to manage internal IT processes more effectively, including change management for their core health care administration system. The solution was implemented in just two months and replaced a previous, ageing solution.
According to Francois Smith, systems architect at Medscheme, the company had for seven years used a now-outdated CRM package. "When considering a replacement to a solution which could no longer meet our needs, we engaged with i5 and assessed Microsoft CRM version 1.2. At the time, Medscheme had already made a strategic decision to standardise on Microsoft technologies where possible, but 1.2 did not adequately meet our needs," relates Smith.
However, he says the company was already impressed with the initiative and effort which i5 put into understanding Medscheme's business processes, which he describes as complex and quite unique.
Medscheme wanted a CRM solution to handle trouble ticketing for IT issues (the creation of requests for assistance with problems experienced by IT users in the business). Smith says IT systems are at the centre of Medscheme's business; without its core systems, it has no value proposition. "As such, ensuring that any issues with the technology system are identified and resolved rapidly is key to this business."
Managing the process from trouble ticket to resolution can require the participation of five or more product areas - from a user detected problem, to a systems developer, to a database and network test, quality assessment, deployment into a test environment and finally, resolution of the problem. The faster and more accurately this process can be handled, the more effectively Medscheme can achieve its business goals.
"MS CRM improves this process by introducing workflow, ease of use and full integration of the problem resolution process. The Services module is used to resolve any product related issues we may have, such as bugs, enhancements, troubleshooting, development and changes required to our systems. This is all analysed and tracked through MS CRM and routed to where it needs to go. With i5 what we have done is created an entire lifecycle of a trouble call.
With the release of Version 3.0 of MS CRM, Smith says the technology was able to do nearly everything Medscheme needed straight out of the box. "It was a 90% fit, something which is practically unheard of in an enterprise technology deployment," he says. That, the focus of his own team and that of i5, resulted in a two month deployment window, which Smith aptly describes as "A seriously short period of time. Given the previous business analysis which i5 had done, we were able to fast track the implementation since their consultants already had a firm grasp of our needs."
Central to the value of CRM to Medscheme is the resultant creation of a central portal which covers all the needs of various users of its systems in terms of issues and queries, while it provides workflow and automatic e-mail notification to the appropriate persons. "Improved transparency is inherent in the system, resolution of queries is fast tracked and we are seeing improved management and control of the problem resolution process," says Smith.
While Medscheme is using MS CRM internally at present to address a specific business issue it had faced, Smith says the organisation has further plans to take advantage of the software in its environment. However, he stresses that the company does not want to attempt a full blown implementation for good reason. "Implementing a far-reaching solution and then only using 10% of its capabilities does not deliver value. We would rather get basic functionality and will add on to meet the needs of the business as we understand the product better," he says. "The real power of CRM lies in its ability to support sales and marketing, leads identification and management. As we understand the capabilities of this relatively new product better, it is likely that functionality which supports these activities will be considered," he says.
His approach is congruent with that of i5 MD, Glen Ansell, who says the 'big bang' approach has in the past proven to be a key stumbling block in many implementations. "We favour the measured, iterative deployment of CRM where the biggest problems in the business are solved with a smaller project. When that project is successful and delivering the value that was promised, the client can extend their CRM deployment with confidence," he says.
"The Medscheme project has affirmed that this is an approach which customers can appreciate as greatly reduced in risk and cost; in an environment where IT must deliver value, i5 believes this is an essential requirement for success," Ansell concludes.


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