A New Zealand business incubator organization was getting overwhelmed managing contracts and clients, but a new CRM system is helping to organize its constant influx of information.

New Zealand is following the pace set by other governments around the globe that are increasing their online presence. In Canada, the mandate is to be one of the most online countries in the world by 2004.

Industry New Zealand is focusing part of its online initiative on CRM.

“In the case of Industry New Zealand, they started looking at their internal functions of sales and marketing, or what they might call business development, and then their external functions. (Their needs) were more collaborative,” said Matt Duncan, vice president of corporate and solution marketing for Vancouver-based Pivotal Corp. He added that Industry New Zealand is not yet using the e-commerce feature.

The government agency went live with Pivotal’s CRM solution in October 2001 and is using the full client/server version. The solution incorporates functions such as marketing, service, e-business and partnership relationship management.

Industry New Zealand co-ordinates access to resources, information, advice and training for New Zealand businesses. It also acts as an advocate for industries with high growth potential.

The government office is using Pivotal to streamline the processing of contracts and grants. To ensure that the entire client contract lifecycle is effectively managed, the solution captures information including agreements and commitments made with partners and with clients; financial claims received; payments made; and reports and assessments completed by employees on the subsequent performance of the business organization. The solution also allows partners delivering Industry New Zealand services to manage service delivery and provide real-time reporting.

Phil Hayward, information technology manager at Industry New Zealand in Wellington, said they selected Pivotal’s solution because of the flexibility it offered. They were able to customize the CRM with its financial application and Microsoft Outlook as a task notification tool.

“The main thing is that it enables us to track all of our contacts with our clients and partners at different points within the business,” Hayward said.

Hayward said KPMG Consulting was its implementation partner, and Pivotal representatives from Australia also assisted on the project and provided support on all technical questions.

But there were also challenges in dealing with an older staff who were not computer savvy and in designing a system without having the business fully operational. Internally, its staff was overwhelmed by what the solution entailed.

“The one complaint we’ve had from users is the sheer amount of information they have to fill in, but that’s simply because we made it as broad as possible,” he said. The long-term goal is to use the system to track the data and capture government reports, he added.

One industry analyst said that because Pivotal has concentrated its efforts primarily on creating CRM solutions, there are some upsides to its product.

“They’ve done a good job in not only making the solution easy to understand, but in letting customers understand that they are a bread and butter CRM company. [Pivotal is] not trying to be an e-business provider,” said Jacob Abramowicz, research analyst at E-Search Canada in Toronto.

He added that the company has been successful in streamlining the sales, marketing and service of the solution while not falling into the trap of pretending to be an e-business provider.