Customer Relationship Management and Systems

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ISYS104 Tutorial – week 10

Business Problem-Solving Case: Symantec’s ERP Turmoil (p.397)

1. What concepts in this chapter are illustrated in this case?

Symantec Corporation started out with good intentions. Shortly after acquiring Veritas it began an ERP rollout that was designed to standardize and unify the Symantec and Veritas information systems. The goal was to create a single ERP system, within which all of the company’s extensive network of resellers, integrators, distributors, and customers could place orders for over 250,000 different products Symantec offered in the same way. That follows the basic concept of enterprise systems which are based on a suite of integrated software modules and a common central database. When new information is entered by one process, the information is made immediately available to other business processes.

Although companies can rewrite some of the software in ERP systems, the software is unusually complex and extensive customization may degrade system performance, compromising the information and process integration. If companies want to reap the maximum benefits from enterprise software, they must change the way they work to conform to the business processes in the software. Although Symantec and Veritas had each used Oracle E-Business Suite 11d prior to the merger, both used highly customized versions of the systems that made integration a daunting task.

An overhaul of the combined company’s enterprise systems was needed to join together Symantec and Veritas’s data from key business processes. Enterprise systems help large companies enforce standard practices and data so that everyone does business the same way worldwide. Enterprise systems help firms respond rapidly to customer requests for information or products. Unfortunately, the two companies bungled the implementation of the enterprise system almost from the beginning.

2. What management, organization, and technology factors were responsible for Symantec’s difficulties in overhauling its ERP systems?

Management: Most of the issues were due to the company’s shortsightedness in implementing Project Oasis. The initial reaction to the launch of the new system was decidedly negative. Once customers reached a Symantec employee, they could spend up to 20 more minutes troubleshooting problems, and were often told that there was nothing that could be done. There was simply too much change occurring all at once for typical customers to handle. Partners were unhappy with Symantec’s slow response to many of the problems.

Organization: The company was unprepared to meet the increased demand for customer support after the rollout. Symantec neglected to coordinate the development of its new ERP system with the launch of other products from different divisions within the company. The changes to the licensing system were not coordinated with the rest of the project. Customers were unhappy with changes to the stock-keeping unit product system (SKU system). Symantec had overlooked the needs of many customers while designing a technically sound but user-unfriendly ERP system.

Technology: Both companies used highly customized versions of Oracle’s E-Business Suite 11d prior to the merger. Users struggled to process the large amount of information provided to them and were overwhelmed by the increased number of steps, all of them new, required to place orders. Some smaller distributors and partners didn’t update their systems to handle the new SKUs and were unable to submit purchase orders electronically. After the rollout, licensing became much more difficult for Symantec’s customers and partners, forcing them to wait multiple weeks before receiving their licenses.

3. Was Symantec’s response to the problem adequate? Explain your reasoning.

The company initiated a follow-up project named Project Nero. The goal of the project was to recapture the loyalty of customers who...
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