Fast growth led to communications company, Daisy, ending up with a set of disparate, small systems that it needed to combine into one customer relationship management system. At the same time as introducing the new system, the company ran a training programme to get staff up to speed on using it.

In the last two years Daisy, a medium-sized company, has experienced a 450 per cent growth. Its rapid rate of development since its founding in 2001 had led to the company having a cumbersome number of disparate systems and spreadsheets used by different departments.

Daisy's staff were having to work using several different programs, and different teams were not easily able to see all the information that they needed to work efficiently.

'Previously, we had a number of small Access database systems and Excel spreadsheets' said Stefni Watson, Daisy's operations director. 'We needed one centralised system that would allow all staff in all departments to see all aspects of a customer's account.

'This would mean that in any one telephone conversation we could address any question that a customer has and fulfil all their needs immediately.'

Daisy dismissed off-the-shelf solutions as inadequate. Software consultancy partner Accelerate4 convinced chief executive officer Matthew Riley that it could deliver the system that Daisy needed at a price that was right by modifying open source technology.

By holding workshops with the management team at Daisy and finding out how the business processes worked, Accelerate4 established a plan to pull together the different departments in to one custom system. A small team from Accelerate4 then set to work modifying an open source solution, SugarCRM, to meet Daisy's specific requirements.

Stefni Watson said: 'The biggest challenge was to gain the buy in of all the staff and the managers, as they were used to using the historical systems. Accelerate4 helped with this challenge by bringing the managers in right at the start of the implementation process and carrying out pilot studies and taking suggestions for the implementation.'

This allowed the IT specialists to find out what was working and to gather suggestions for improvements from the Daisy team before the final implementation. It also helped to plan training.

'We used some of the feedback and the experience gained from carrying out the pilot study to plan the training for the system on its release,' said Watson. 'The training was required to ensure users had working knowledge of the appropriate areas of the system, as determined by their job role.'

'A member of the development team, our project manager and Daisy's inhouse training manager planned and carried out the training. Initially, department managers were trained in a classroom scenario, each with a PC, using working examples. From there we then gained feedback from each manager on what aspects of the system needed the most explanation for their departments and which areas they would use the most. 

Each individual department was then provided with classroom training, again with their own PC, and using working examples on the systems - depending on the job role, the sessions lasted half-a-day to one day. This overall period of training took around two weeks.

'We then launched the CRM system and ensured that the in-house trainer, project manager, and three members of the development team were available throughout the first three days of usage to assist with user queries, gather feedback for improvements (and implement them where necessary) and fix any bugs,' said Watson. 'We also provided all staff with a paper-based user guide for basic activities.'

As a result of the Accelerate4 CRM implementation, successfully delivered to more than 100 users in just two months, Daisy has saved time and money on software and development, improved its customer service levels and increased team efficiency and productivity. A flexible core system has been created that can scale as fast as Daisy grows and give it a continued competitive edge.

What elements helped make the training a success? 'The buy in of the managers prior to training staff, taking and acting on feedback from staff and management alike, and using working examples on PCs instead of staff simply watching a demo on a screen,' said Watson.

Since the initial training, many users have been provided with refresher training to ensure they are using the system to its full capability.

For new starters at Daisy, one of the training modules at Daisy is CRM training, which is based on the classroom/PC/working examples approach, as used when implementing the new system.