GS1 Portugal, the only entity licenced in Portugal to manage GS1’s standards system, is a private non-profit association with around 7,000 associate companies.
In 2010, it defined a project to prepare for the future, involving three main areas: organization, processes and IT. As part of the latter, a new architecture was designed based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Leadership Business Consulting was in charge of strategic consulting and the new solution was developed and implemented by Microsoft’s partner, BOND – Building On Network Dynamics.
GS1 Portugal (CODIPOR – Associação Portuguesa de Identificação e Codificação de Produtos), founded in 1985 by the production and retail industry, is the only entity licenced to manage GS1 system of standards in Portugal. This international perspective is particularly important in a business where standards are a focal point, and where companies’ business often overflows to foreign borders. “Our identifiers and codes are unique and inimitable across the world, giving visibility to the entire value chain, in a ”global language of business,” says João de Castro Guimarães, Executive Director of GS1 Portugal.
GS1 is an international not-for-profit organization with Members in over 100 countries.
GS1 is dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions to improve the efficiency and visibility of supply and demand chains globally and across sectors. The GS1 system of standards is the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world.
In Portugal it has around 7,000 member companies. Castro Guimarães notes that, the largest sector is food (58.4%), followed by construction, DIY (Do-it-Yourself), furniture and household products (13.5%) and, textiles and apparel (6.6%).
“Internationally, GS1 does business in 25 sectors. Of these, two major groups stand out:
Core: Retail and consumer goods, health care, transport and logistics;
New strategic sectors which have tremendous growth potential: postal, automotive and financial.”
GS1’s business areas revolve around identifying products, services, assets and locations, information or data capture and sharing. Most of this has been done via Business to Business (B2B), with a growing trend towards Business to Consumer (B2C).
A great number of companies see the importance of using standards. For others, it is just now becoming a relevant issue. João de Castro Guimarães points out four strategic benefits of standards for companies and their businesses: efficiency, collaboration, sustainability and security. Their functional benefits include identification (using identifiers), information capture (through bar codes or radio-frequency) and information sharing throughout the entire value chain (through e-commerce and data synchronisation).
Working in different sectors and in areas with high momentum, GS1 Portugal, has sought to modernise and adapt to the general needs of companies and specific needs of its associates. While reaching out to new entities and sectors, it also aims to provide the best service to its associates. More and more, this involves an in-depth knowledge of their circumstances, and an ability to work with them to develop solutions tailored to their needs. The consulting services it now offers its associates are just one example of GS1’s broader “business” scope in Portugal.
Although involved in a number of strategic projects, “Housekeeping” stand out as it will make GS1 Portugal a more modern organization looking towards the future, with the ability to quickly address the market.
This project, which began in the second quarter of 2010, was conducted with the support of Leadership Business Consulting, and covers three major areas: 1. organizational overhaul, 2. process reengineering, and 3. technology and systems architecture design. “We chose a new IT architecture with CRM as the focal point, which is right for our size, challenges, organization and processes,” says João de Castro Guimarães. A Customer Relationship Management solution was considered the best choice for the company’s goals. Microsoft Dynamics CRM was the choice.
CRM is tied to other components of GS1 Portugal’s new IT architecture, including the Internet (website), intranet and document management, based on Microsoft SharePoint (financial and accounting application).
Although the Housekeeping project involved these three areas, the IT systems were certainly a support element, which is why the initial attention was turned towards organizational and procedural aspects.
Four key areas were defined in the new organizational model: shared services; marketing and communication; sales and services; innovation and standards. The redesigning of business processes had an underlying rationale of boosting efficiency and effectiveness. One of the main lines of work was a focus on associates. Standardising and centralising contacts with associates was fundamental. In addition, efforts were made to use new channels, allocate resources to key processes and simplify. “We defined a set of new value-added processes, and did away with those that did not add value. We designed an organization tailored to processes, and created a new organizational layout, for example including a customer service department for associates,” says João de Castro Guimarães.
To address the new challenges, new organization and new processes, the existing IT architecture based on a proprietary system could no longer be kept. The greater focus on associates and need to better understand them, to manage their needs and to address their aspirations partially dictated the importance of investing in a CRM system. The wide range of features offered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM and its flexibility to adapt to the business made CRM the architecture’s focal point. Interfaces were developed for the areas of intranet and document management, business intelligence, website, GS1 SyncPT platform (Global Data data Synchronisation Network (GS1 GDSN), numbering (code generation system), accounting and invoicing.
The conceptual design of the new model for management and the interaction between GS1 and its associates was developed with the support of Leadership Business Consulting, whose Partner, Pedro Oliveira Lima, says the following with regard to the overall breadth afforded by CRM to GS1 Portugal CODIPOR: “GS1 is an association whose main goal is to provide service to its associates, which often involves interaction and relationship management. This is where CRM comes in. However, the value chain does not end with this contact with associates. Other processes are also supported by CRM, such as managing codes, marketing, operating strategy, human resources, technical assistance and – indirectly – financial and accounting processes.”
GS1 Portugal started to use CRM in the first days of January 2012, with high expectations. “Although we used to keep a back up of contact records, the new agility of accessing information with Microsoft Dynamics CRM is much better”.
With around 7,000 associates, the contact database will reach about 30,000, considering the contact records from the past 2 to 3 years. Also, the number of interaction history records is around 10 million. All of this information is in CRM,” says Silvério Paixão, Chief Innovation & Standards Officer of GS1 Portugal CODIPOR.
According to João de Castro Guimarães, “among other things, Microsoft Dynamics CRM was chosen after analysing the market and the customers of this technology. Its user-friendliness, efficient deployment, associated cost and scalability are some of the aspects that weighed in. Moreover, BOND was chosen as the deployment partner after considering its functional competencies, experience and team.”
GS1 Portugal decided to deploy CRM in a “software as a service” model, as opposed to the traditional “in-house”, according to Castro Guimarães, “on the one hand, we were convinced that security was high; on the other hand, it was compelling to us since it avoided a major initial investment and simplified our internal structure, as we no longer needed servers and everything related to managing and maintaining them, along with specialised personnel assigned to IT. It was a natural choice for us.”
At GS1 Portugal, CRM became the business support tool par excellence. BOND Sales Manager Rita Cordovil notes that the project in question is wide-ranging, and includes Code management.
Due to the solution’s scope, the entire organizational team uses CRM. “We chose to migrate the existing data into CRM, with an entry into production using a “big bang” approach, where the previous system was “closed” and people began using the new one on a widespread basis,” says Silvério Paixão. Even with a major redefinition of processes, the positive feedback and employee acceptance became visible.
For GS1 Portugal, the solid involvement of the management team is one of the reasons behind the CRM project’s success. Contributing to this involvement is the fact that the project in question is strategic to the organization, with goals of modernisation, efficiency and effectiveness and, among others, boosting the aspect of "customer intimacy". Knowing more about its customer associates required a solution that could migrate the entire existing history and empower the business itself, in a context where the organization now positioned itself as a service partner that developed solutions tailored to its customers’ needs, or as an entity seeking to attract new associates in a particularly challenging market.
Integrated in an« international organization, but implemented as an interdependent federation, GS1 Portugal, like associations from other countries, has autonomy in managing and decision-making in terms of its tools. “We only have to ensure the robustness and integrity of the system we use,” says Silvério Paixão.
From its first GO LIVE moments CRM’s benefits were made clear: first, the immediate perception of the added value that the system could bring in managing processes and relationships with associates, together with the ability to obtain “key performance indicators” such as the productivity indicators pointed out by Silvério Paixão, including the number of new associates, the retention of existing associates and improvements to several financial ratios, such as collections.