Cloud ERP, CRM and Mobility Improve Productivity

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Cloud, ERP, CRM and Mobility

Chambers Gasket & Manufacturing integrated its cloud-based CRM and ERP systems, enabling staff to access customer data on their mobile devices from any location.

By Chris Kenny 

When you hear about companies running their entire business in the cloud, with executives on the go working from their phones and employees collaborating on social media, you probably don’t envision a 77-year-old custom gasket manufacturing company in Chicago. But that is our daily reality at Chambers Gasket & Manufacturing. Aligning our front- and back-office systems in the cloud and making everything inherently mobile helped us push forward, stay relevant and continue innovating.

Chambers Gasket specializes in manufacturing custom-precision gaskets for nearly every conceivable use, from car doors to NASCAR engines to hearing aids. We stock more than 2,000 different types of material, source more than 10,000, and work daily with dozens of partners and suppliers to meet the demands of the global OEM markets.

 It wasn't a surprise to find that many of our processes were in dire need of an uplift. Our quoting system was archaic and difficult to use. When working with customer quotes, our staff had zero visibility into accounts receivable information or credit status, and they had limited visibility into production and inventory status.

When we needed to create invoices, we often printed or scanned emails and saved them as PDFs, and the only way we could track vendor shipments was to comb through email history. Most frustrating was our inability to track customer interactions across various departments: what was billed, what and when it was ordered, when it was shipped, and what emails were exchanged with customers.

We had been considering a switch from a client-server environment to the cloud, but what propelled us into action was a major power outage that essentially brought the company to a halt for five days.

The outage made it evident that in addition to getting our front office running on Salesforce.com's CRM system, we needed an ERP system on the same platform for back-office staff. That led us to FinancialForce.com, a financial management system, to manage quoting, billing, shipping and other key operations processes.

Since then, we’ve streamlined processes to accommodate twice the workload without having to add headcount. We’ve realized a 70 percent productivity gain simply by moving to FinancialForce.com’s quoting processes, and we have increased quoting throughput by 200 percent. Also, we now have the ability to drive meaningful ROI at all levels of our business as we continue to grow.

Much of this success stems from the key integration between Salesforce and FinancialForce.com, which gives us a 360-degree view of each customer’s account history on one screen. We’re able to provide a better customer experience, which ranges from acknowledging orders to shipping orders, tracking shipments, and issuing or reissuing invoices.

This full visibility into payment history also helps us extend credit terms more rapidly and lets us resolve any customer queries immediately, since any employee taking an order can deal with accounts receivable issues. Today, a single invoice can be issued in about 10 seconds, compared to the 10 minutes or more it took previously. 

Working Anywhere, Anytime

A major consideration of moving to this system was to determine whether in the event of another crisis at our headquarters, all employees—not just sales staff—would be able to work from home, a coffee shop or any other location. The objective was to reassure our customers, partners and suppliers that we’d continue to offer business as usual.

Now our CRM and ERP systems are integrated and inherently social and mobile via Salesforce1 platform. So our sales, service, accounting and other teams can access data on their mobile devices and continue working no matter where they are.

But mobility isn’t just a contingency plan: These platforms give us the ability to make nearly every daily business process a mobile one. Since FinancialForce.com can be easily accessed within the Salesforce1 mobile app, we essentially have our entire customer database in our pockets, with full access to dashboards, comprehensive views of customers, approval processes and more. I can type in any customer name and bring up all the needed information through one reporting engine.

I’ve had situations where I’m meeting with a client who wants to change the design of a gasket order. On the spot, I’ve been able to bring up the original design on my phone or tablet, make the necessary changes and immediately set up a new quote with a new invoice.

That speed, flexibility and access give me the ability to go out, meet with customers and answer any questions related to their account in real-time—with no computer needed.

For us, any application or technology upgrade comes down to whether it will help Chambers Gasket grow and build on our reputation of quality, accuracy and service. Our move to the cloud and our deployment of FinancialForce.com and Salesforce1 has enabled us to do just that.

Not bad for an old-school company, is it?

Chris Kenny is the vice president of operations at Chambers Gaskets and Manufacturing.


This article was originally published on 2014-10-21
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