Smoothing the Transition to CRM at Alchemy Ingredients

When a challenging CRM implementation project ground to a halt, Alchemy Ingredients needed expert help to accelerate its successful migration to a new platform.

About Alchemy Ingredients

Founded in 1976, Alchemy Ingredients is a distributor of speciality chemicals and services to the industrial, pharmaceutical and personal care markets in the UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.

Providing the highest levels of technical advice and support to customers, more than half of the company employees work in sales, marketing or customer service.

With its 20 year old ACT database repository coming to end-of-support, Alchemy Ingredients took the decision to move to a more modern and integrated CRM system in a bid to enhance existing business processes, generate new business intelligence, and serve customers better.

But 12 months into implementation, the project had stalled. Leaving users unimpressed, and the project team exhausted and frustrated at the inability of its existing system provider to progress its vision.

The Challenge

With five divisions, all with very different requirements, plus a raft of shared services and workflows - including regulatory, finance, and logistics – underpinning business operations, customising the new CRM platform would prove a mammoth task.

“We knew from Day One this was going to be a complex project,” confirms Sarah Patrick, CRM Project Manager at Alchemy Ingredients. “But pretty early on it was clear that our implementation provider simply wasn’t up to the task.”

Forced to liaise with a development team based in India, scoping out the required functionality was proving a protracted and time-consuming struggle for the Alchemy Ingredients project team. One that ate up time and resources – with zero progress as far as acceptable outcomes was concerned.

“Quite frankly, they didn’t understand our business or how we operated. Everything from the way the system was architected to the user interface screens and how projects were captured was wrong – in essence we’d hit a brick wall, with no way of moving forward in a constructive way”.

“Having invested significantly in licensing the new platform, starting over was not an option. We had no alternative but to find a provider with the capabilities and know-how to get us over the line. With everyone in the business truly disillusioned with the CRM journey to date, everything now depended on engaging with the right partner to accelerate our successful adoption of this new business critical system,” continues Sarah.

The Solution

When Serversys first stepped into the frame, Alchemy Ingredients's project team had reached the end of its tether as far as IT implementation projects were concerned.

“To say we were jaded with the whole process would be an understatement,” continues Sarah. “We’d lost all trust in our previous supplier and had little confidence that Serversys would prove any different. Fortunately for us, that fear proved unfounded.”

Quickly getting to grips with the complex nuances of each individual division’s operational needs was just the start. Serversys re-engaged with senior business users and managers, demonstrating newly built user screens so they could get feedback fast and re-design the system to deliver the functionality everyone required.

“This iterative approach was a breath of fresh air – and it generated visible and measurable results,” continues Sarah. “Instead of spouting convoluted IT speak that made it difficult for users to engage in the design process, Serversys took a much more common sense approach - they asked clear and direct questions about our processes, challenged us to explain why things had to happen in a certain way, and got to the bottom of all the idiosyncrasies that are unique to each business unit.”

“At every point, they tested their understanding of what was needed by showing us what each element of the system would look like. They also provided recommendations on ways we could do things differently or more efficiently.”

From re-engineering workflows to customising the system to concurrently address the needs of users across the business, and initiating all the additional functionality that was required, Serversys accelerated the project to a successful conclusion.

Solution overview

  • Amend workflows and automate user processes
  • Define scripts, fields and picklists for each division
  • Prepare and migrate data to new CRM platform
  • Enable integrations with Sage 200 ERP
  • Incorporate product and price lists as inbuilt CRM functionality that includes quote generation and stock checks

The Results

Having established the core functionality and plug-ins needed to address the complex range of requirements across the business – everything from supplying test samples to creating supply chain solutions that cut through complexity and enable customers to work more efficiently and predictably – Serversys was ready to initiate a phased go live.

“Serversys began to roll out the new platform to select divisions, before preparing the unique customisations and screen forms in readiness for a go live for the rest of the business. Throughout this process, they worked in close collaboration with our teams and were always available at a moment’s notice to talk questions through or provide explanations,” continues Sarah.

With over 100,000 records, the migration of the sizeable database to the new CRM platform went without a hitch and user acceptance of the new system interfaces has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The go live was relatively pain free, there were no technical problems, and our people are now using it. That’s something I didn’t think we’d ever achieve. Within a matter of months, we went from facing a major project disaster to having in place a CRM system that does what it says on the tin – and that people really like,” confirms Sarah.

“Serversys restored our faith in IT suppliers and 100% rescued our project,” she continues. “They handled the challenge of configuring a CRM environment that’s tailored around a uniquely complex business with endless patience and good humour. I’m not exaggerating when I say that when it comes to technical knowledge and the ability to communicate with, and listen, to users – they’re in a league of their own.”

- Sarah Patrick, Group Marketing Manager, Alchemy Ingredients

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