Case Study: Consolidation

Sales Operation Swim Lanes DiagramToday we have an installment of the Enterprise Sales Operations Case Study series with special guest, Andi Fant. Andi has 15+ years of experience in Sales Operations leadership including hands-on project management of implementations and other major change-initiatives in enterprise sales organizations. During her career, Andi has worked for McAfee, Fujitsu, Siemens and consulted with a number of venture-funded technology start-ups.

Today’s Case Study is a full life cycle CRM consolidation and global deployment for a company providing enterprise software and services. The project includes:

  • Executive sponsorshipCase Study | Andi Fant
  • Business requirements
  • New CRM platform selection
  • SaaS architecture and security model
  • Data transformation
  • KPIs and Analytics
  • Sales training


Why did the company decide to change its CRM strategy?

Following a strategic acquisition, company management found forecast accuracy and consistency were becoming a problem. The absence of a common language and standard definitions for key sales terms like “commit” led to uncertainty in the forecasting process and concern about the validity of the data. A priority directive from the company President required that all marketing and sales activities, including deal tracking, forecasting and business analytics, would be immediately migrated to a single CRM platform using a common language and sales process worldwide.


Who were the major stakeholders for the CRM project?

For business requirements and implementation, it was the Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Americas Sales.  We also worked closely with the company President (executive sponsor), international SVPs of Sales and Marketing as well as key executives from Finance. The Executive Team initially wanted a prescriptive, just “get it done” approach. But, new requirements emerged over time and as sales operations teams often do, we managed as best we could.


How did you define success going into the project?

The directive was easy to translate into a single measurement: Improved Forecast Accuracy.  The Leadership Team wanted to dramatically improve visibility into the operation of the global sales organization and to instill more objectivity into the forecast. A fully transparent, auditable forecast process using the company standard CRM needed to be in place at the start of the fiscal year. The project team reviewed three platforms. We made our recommendation and the executive team selected To meet the requirement to be fully operational and debugged by the start of the fiscal year, the new implementation needed to be fully tested and ready to load data 60-days after the contracts were signed. The initial deployment was 200 users and increased to 300 over the next 12 months.


What primary risk factor or obstacle did you face?

Politics.  We had terrific executive support and clear ownership at the beginning implementation.  As we approached the go-live date, the executive team understood we were going to deliver on-scope and on-schedule. That was when the original scope, design and priorities began to shift to accommodate new requirements.  A fair amount of excitement, organizational conflict and conflicting priorities created stress on the core project team. We silently accepted the new challenges and were determined to deliver even when it seemed impossible. In the end, we did deliver on the expanded scope. The political turmoil did take it’s toll, factions formed and some key people left the company.


You like to use Swim Lanes diagrams to visualize and align multiple functional groups. How did Swim Lanes impact this project?

Based upon our interviews with the leadership team and top performers in the field, we created a sales process diagram that shifted the emphasis from “How do we sell” to “How does the customer buy”. The Swim Lanes diagram helped us to align the buying and selling process.


What “16X factor” was most significant in this project?

Common Sales Language. We were able to design and deploy a globally consistent sales language and process spanned different career backgrounds, mergers and disparate sales models. We chose a short list of Sales Stages (1-5) that aligned with the major decision points that a customer progresses through when making their buying decision. Each had specific entrance and exit criteria that were locked to a single probability and forecasting category.


What one thing do you wish you knew before the project launched?

The need for ongoing, visible executive support for the project goals and the people championing the change. With the support of the company President and the Chief Information Officer, we were able to broker solutions that were eventually accepted across the various regions and departments. A strong working relationship and active engagement from the Americas Sales Leader helped gain the support of the field. Yet, we still had issues related to changes in business requirements.

As the project leader, I would request more direct access to the executive sponsor. With ongoing executive involvement, I think we would have had a more complete picture the business requirements that were added late in the project. We might have developed the original scope based on the “get it done” directive and implemented additional requirements in phases.  The project would still have succeeded, but maybe getting there would not have been as difficult on the people involved.


Andi, Thank you so much for sharing your Sales Operations project experience with us. I am we all can identify with the challenges you and your team had to overcome on this implementation.



Click Here to Download the Swim Lanes Template and 3 takeaways from this project case study.

Connect with Andi Fant on Linked


About Neal Murphy

Neal Murphy is the publisher of Enterprise Sales Operations and former VP of Worldwide Sales & Operations with 20 years experience in enterprise technology.

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