How Panasonic rationalized customer records in the cloud

When the electronics giant merged CRM systems for three divisions, it tapped Cloud Sherpas to make the migration to happen over a nine-month time frame.

When giant electronics company Panasonic decided to grow its business-to-business (B2B) revenue more methodically, one of the first places it looked was its existing sales and marketing databases. What it discovered was a mish-mash of different approaches that had been siloed for the specific needs of its consumer, industrial and B2B teams.

"Some of it was pretty ugly," said Stephen Yeo, marketing director for Panasonic System Communications Co. Europe.

That was the beginning of an extensive reorganization: one designed to create a more common set of marketing and sales business processes using the platform.

Salesforce integrator Cloud Sherpas, which has an international footprint, was tapped to facilitate the process. When all was said and done, the project involved migrating 35,000 customer accounts, 38,000 contacts and more than 30,000 opportunities from a hodge-podge of spreadsheets and other systems into Salesforce. "It was like constructing an airliner when it was in flight," Yeo said.

Yet, Cloud Sherpas was able to pull off the project within the agreed-upon timeframe, transferring the information contained in the company's billion-dollar-plus sales pipeline with a high degree of accuracy, he said.

Here are five things that Panasonic and Cloud Sherpas did to help make that happen

  • Get the input you need - To kick off the design of the Salesforce records, Cloud Sherpas facilititated a workshop with stakeholders from all three business divisions involved to understand the existing processes and then come up with a blueprint that would accommodate the strategic needs of all of them. 
  • Pick your team carefully - When you're dealing with a migration of this magnitude, your company can't afford to have conflicting agendas threaten the bigger picture. Panasonic started the project as a collaboration between Cloud Sherpas and a set of external project managers, but reassigned accountability when certain members lost sight of the end goal. You also need to pick people who can "handle unexpected and potentially complex situations."
  • Plan down to the minute - Panasonic left nothing to chance, closely specifying the amount of hours that certain steps should take and closely managing to those numbers. The project was structured as a fixed-fee contract.
  • Require weekly assessments - To keep things on track, the team keep close tabs on progress, so that resources could be redeployed (if necessary) to meet the overall plan.
  • Test, test, and then test again - Cloud Sherpas ran three migration tests along the way (practice runs to ensure that the SQL engine running the process was converting data properly), before it was ready to do it for real. "That ensured that our real migration happened really smoothly," Yeo said.