The Chamber of Commerce of the United States (USCC) in Russia was established in early 1994 as a public non-profit organization of American business circles operating in the Russian Federation. From this time onward, the organization has been accredited at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.
The Chamber currently unites over 800 companies, accounting for over 90% of Russian-American trade and US investment in Russia. The USCC also has a branch in St. Petersburg and representatives in Washington (USA). Since the beginning of 1996, it has been open for non-American companies to join, and a number of large European, Japanese and Russian firms have already become its members.
The USCC’s main task is to promote the formation in Russia of more favorable conditions for trade and the economic, industrial and investment activities of international and Russian business.
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States pays considerable attention to the development of cooperation with various regions of Russia. This requires the organization of individual work with all members, aimed at a more complete compliance with their needs and assistance in solving their challenges.
As the Chamber expanded, it became necessary to implement an automated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that would optimize interaction with current and potential members, thereby increasing the efficiency of the organization. The major characteristics of such a system should be the following: an individual approach to customers, efficiency, ease of use and high availability. It was also necessary to ensure its integration with the existing USCC information systems.
The main criteria for choosing a CRM system, according to Irina Zernova, the Vice President of USCC for Administrative Affairs, were the following parameters:
- simple integration with USCC’s existing infrastructure;
- functionality and ease of use;
- ability to use Russian and English;
- support of management decision-making;
- customer focus;
- conventional interface;
- good indicators of project payback.
By the time the decision was made to modernize relations with members of the Chamber, the IT infrastructure of the USCC included the Exchange Server, Active Directory Server, File Server and Fax Server, as well as 21 workstations meeting the technical requirements for client PCs to work with the CRM system. The Chamber had eight different databases managed by such applications as Microsoft Access, File Maker Pro, Microsoft Excel, and even Microsoft Word. The financial management business process was based on the use of two accounting systems: 1C and Quick Books (for the preparation of Russian and US reporting, respectively). In addition, standard office software from Microsoft was installed in the Chamber.
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States conducted a tender to find a contractor for the implementation of the CRM system, in which three Moscow companies participated. The winner was Microsoft's authorized partner Softline, which offered a solution based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.
During the pre-project survey, carried out by Softline specialists in accordance with the Microsoft CRM implementation methodology, which was developed by the company taking into account the specifics of the IT business and the product itself, the main tasks of the project were determined:
- Formation of a unified connecting environment for the work of personnel from all divisions of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States (Operations, Marketing and Communications, Finance, Policy);
- Creation of a unified customer database;
- Improving the efficiency of the process of managing events organized by the Chamber;
- Automation of commercial settlement processes;
- Integrated automation process of the USCC service sales process;
- Improving the efficiency of marketing and advertising processes;
- Email newsletter management;
- Integration with the USCC corporate website to automate the registration of new members and participation in events;
- Development of tools for collecting, analyzing and managing information necessary for long-term relationships with clients;
- Creation of a reporting system for key business processes of the company;
- Management of appeals by USCC members;
- Analytical reporting on key USCC business processes;
- User training to effectively use Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.
The solution based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 is an excellent addition to existing systems, and also provides a wide range of effective functions, including the organization of fast and secure access to data using mobile devices and using Active Directory technologies. Other features of this solution are the ability to integrate with Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft Outlook 2003 and Microsoft Reporting Services; minimum terms of implementation and deployment; a user-friendly interface. Moreover, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 delivers the best possible combination of high reliability, informed and prompt decision making, ease of setup and maintenance, scalability, low total cost of ownership, and a fast return on investment.
“This project can rightfully be considered indicative for Russia, since the solution will implement 95% of all standard functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. In addition, the solution offered by our company implies such additional functionality as event management and complex integration with the corporate website of the USCC. It is significant that the pre-project survey by Softline specialists made it possible to identify all deviations and problems that could arise later in the course of the project. With this new solution, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States hopes to improve the efficiency of its employees and the level of relationships with USCC members by significantly accelerating the performance of business processes. There is no doubt that the USCC project will be carried out with maximum efficiency, since it was initiated by the President of the Chamber and is actively supported by its top management. A strong and decisive project team has been formed, headed by the Vice-President for Administrative Affairs Irina Zernova from the USCC side. I am sure that USCC employees will soon see that this solution makes their work much faster and more convenient”:
Vladimir Gal, lead consultant of the CRM department at Softline.