Australian sports team SAASes up its contacts database

The Western Bulldogs, a Melbourne-based Australian-rules football team, is utilizing a Software as a Service (SAAS) business model “to avoid being stuck with an outdated CRM system five years down the track.”

The club’s general manager of business development and strategy, Bruce Kaider, said SAAS means the IT team can avoid upgrades, and system updates happen at the back-end so they are immediately available to users.

Kaider said to maintain a highly streamlined level of operation, the club needs to model itself on the corporate world.

This means having full visibility into the sales pipeline and revenue targets which is crucial to running a sustainable business, he added. Prior to using, Kaider said the club struggled with a spreadsheet system to track and manage a database of more than 14,000 contacts.

However, after more than three years of 20 percent annual growth, he said this process was becoming increasingly complex, didn’t scale and was inefficient.

“Spreadsheets are the common language for sportspeople and teams but as our sponsor base grew our existing processes became more and more disjointed,” Kaider said.

“We had multiple spreadsheets to track and manage sponsors so it goes without saying that there were duplication and inefficiencies. There was also no mechanism to set reminders or track calls and obviously no single view into the sales pipeline. “In order to grow our sponsorship and commercial relationships – and therefore grow revenue – we needed to take a more sophisticated approach.”

Kaider said, not surprisingly, that sporting clubs don’t normally invest time in reviewing CRM packages.

“But we had immediate buy-in from the board as our Chief Operating Officer could see that an on-demand enterprise-class solution would help us get ahead of the competition,” he said. The club reviewed five different CRM packages and even considered custom-building its own, but Salesforce stood out.

“Salesforce required low up-front costs and minimal new infrastructure. It could quickly and easily scale as the business grew and integrate seamlessly with our existing applications,” Kaider said. “Once the club made the decision to go with Salesforce, it was up and running across the business within three weeks.

“A fast implementation was crucial in the lead-up to the football season.” Since the club began using the software, Kaider said the organization has been able to close sales leads in 30 days, instead of the average 60 days that was the standard previously.

“Because there is now a single view of customer data, the team has a new level of accountability for revenue generation. This will help create a more profitable business,” he said adding that implementation was part of an overhaul of the club’s operation to make it a more sustainable business.

The SAAS business model has certainly gained momentum in Australasia with 40 percent of’s local customer base signing up in the past 12 months.

The Western Bulldogs is one of 32,300 companies of all sizes, industries and geographies that comprise the customer base as of April 30, 2007.

In a study undertaken earlier this year by ACA Research, 41 percent of respondents plan to invest in some form of on-demand software over the next 12 months.

It also found that organizations are spending, on average, 29 percent of IT budgets on software maintenance. Almost 50 percent saw the SAAS model as an opportunity to achieve lower TCO and a higher ROI.

The local survey covered 120 IT executives and line of business managers. customers including ABN AMRO, America Online (AOL), Dow Jones Newswires, Japan Post, Kaiser Permanente, KONE, Sprint Nextel, Staples and SunTrust Banks.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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