REV: AUGUST 30, 2006
Amagansett Funds (A)
“What are we going to do about this?” Nedra Berland asked her colleague Arnoud Roth.
“What do you mean we? Fixing broken applications is your job,” Roth replied with a grin. He was kidding and Berland knew it. They had already established an easy rapport although they had worked together only a short time. Both of them considered this a good thing, because they were clearly going need each other.
They were new employees at Amagansett Funds, a New York mutual fund company. Berland was a vice president in the IT department; she had been hired in late 2002 to serve as the main link between IT and the sales and marketing areas of the company. Roth, also a vice president, had joined Amagansett at the same time. He worked within sales, where his job was to strengthen the department’s analytic capabilities and identify and promote effective business processes.
They initially concentrated on the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) software for the simple reason that managers considered it important, but most users hated it. Amagansett’s sales force was supposed to use the CRM system to record the details of all client meetings, but this was not being done correctly or completely. As a result, sales management had a poor idea of what was going on within their organization, and also with their customers. Berland and Roth were in charge of remedying this situation.
They began by observing how the sales force did its job and used the system, and by conducting interviews. They saw that there was a lot of support for simply “starting over” with CRM—throwing away the current system and buying new software that would hopefully deliver better performance and user satisfaction. At the end of a round of interviews they sat in a conference room and discussed what they had heard.
“We’re hearing all the classic salesperson complaints about CRM—‘It takes time away from my real job’; ‘I give and give to the system, but never get anything from it’; ‘It takes too long to enter all the required information’; ‘It’s inconvenient’; ‘It’s poorly designed’; ‘It’s too slow;’” said Roth, “but it really feels like the complaints are louder here.”
“Definitely,” Berland replied. “These folk really don’t like their system. But it’s not much worse than anyone else’s CRM. I can already see a few cosmetic changes that will make data entry easier, but no other application out there in the market is worlds better. I don’t think replacing the system is the answer.”
Professor Andrew McAfee prepared this case. The company mentioned in this case is fictional. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.
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Amagansett Funds (A)
Roth looked visibly relieved. “I’m glad to hear you say that; I had the same reaction. But what do we do to shift the mindset around here? That last interview said that CRM was a tax on his job. How can we change that?”
Berland thought for a moment. “Maybe we can’t. Maybe we should just be satisfied with reducing the...
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