Although Siebel Systems has now started making European reference sites available, a flagship $3 million deal with Cable & Wireless (C&W) has shown that large projects are not always easy.
Steve Hurst, C&W's customer relationship manager, said that prior to engaging Siebel, the firm had a mix of spreadsheets and contact management products, but chose Siebel as a best of breed product to create an enterprise wide customer relationship management system.
In what appears to be a management gaff, however, C&W's strategic IT spending department authorised two independent projects based on the Siebel software. The 'corporate' project was looked after by Cambridge Technology Partners, while the 'business group' was managed by Andersen Consulting.
While the corporate project went well, delivering what was expected to budget and on time, the business project proved less successful and C&W's Hurst said: "Andersen got booted off, they are no longer a consultancy for us."
He claimed the project team was not able to take as active a view of what the business needed as C&W would have liked.
"Getting the right commitment was more complex," he said. But Andersen took a different perspective on the situation. A spokesperson said: "This was a pilot. When IBM came in as outsourcers, it got lost in the change."
But while Hurst believed there was a strong case for integrating the two projects at the database level to achieve longer term benefits such as streamlining marketing campaigns, Siebel was less convinced. Although it recognised the significance of the work involved, Hurst claimed it took the line: "Do you really want to go through all that pain?"
While Phil Robinson, Siebel's senior director of marketing and alliances, was not prepared to discuss the C&W case directly, he said: "In cases where there is more than one project, we would always advise customers to take a holistic view of the business. It makes best sense for the long term."
But Hurst is now considering a freeze on development spend to assess where the company is because he fears that potential integration issues will only multiply further down the track.
He remains concerned that Siebel engineers are proving an expensive and sometimes scarce resource. "There seems to be a shortage at the moment. We're paying around #1,000 a day for people and some have had to be flown in from the USA and Holland," he said.
While C&W spent #1.6 million on the successful corporate project, Hurst was unable to quantify how much had been spent on the business group project. The company's targeted return on investment from the projects is 14 per cent, but he said it could end up as high as 30 per cent.
In the meantime, the Siebel projects are still stand alone offerings and have not been integrated with C&W's core SAP financial systems either, although they take feeds from C&W's billing systems.
Siebel's Robinson asserted, however: "We have addressed the integration points for SAP's R/3, along with other application vendors like Peoplesoft and Oracle."
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