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Scania’s central CRM as strategic pillar

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Scania’s history and culture are typical for the way the Swedish truck manufacturer operates: focused on harmony and support within a decentralized dynamic. Because after a decade of toil a global CRM-system had stalled at only a quarter of the rollout, external help was brought in. Jon Månson, Head of Sales Digitalization at Scania and Anderson MacGyver’s Cliff de Laat tell how they onboarded the organization. 

More than a decade ago, Scania already saw the importance of a standardized CRM system. This would allow the truck manufacturer to offer its high-quality and complex products in the same way all over the world. Moreover, it was realized early on that the availability of the right data would enable Scania to make the move to new forms of digital services. The beckoning prospect was clear, but various countries and markets partly determine themselves how they set up their IT-systems.  

The so-called Scania CRM application (SCRM for short), based on a global Microsoft Dynamics implementation, was an important strategic pillar and was in desparate need for a successful re-launch. Refloating the stranded process was therefore the primary task of Jon Månson, who took office as Head of Sales Digitalization in 2021. 

Matter of trust
“The requirements and expectations for the functionality offered were much higher in the various countries than the central organization could deliver,” he reflects. “The fragmented setup combined with a support plagued by lack of capacity led to a lack of trust among local stakeholders. Prioritization of their requirements also took place in the boardroom, which had a huge delaying effect.”  

Månson saw from the beginning that getting local decision makers on board and aligning their input with the global template and vice versa was crucial to a successful relaunch. “In doing so, local markets had to be able to choose their own configuration to some extent, but tight governance was put in place for that,” said Cliff de Laat, who was involved as product manager from Anderson MacGyver.  

“It was a complex process,” the consultant continued. “But the potential benefit of far-reaching unification is great.” Meanwhile, the rollout is well underway, with 90 percent of the total sales volume running through the system early next year, which is in line with the original goal. “Challenge was that we had hard targets in a relatively soft culture.” 

Sustainability goals   
That Swedish signature has brought Scania much since its founding in 1891. It was one of the first manufacturers to launch modern products such as the turbocharger and an ethanol-powered bus. Driven by business and sustainability goals, the truck brand also had a world first with an all-electric truck in 2020.  

In addition, Scania early on embraced the principle of customization based on modular, component-based product lines. “As early as 1980, this made it possible to customize each newly ordered truck to the customer’s requirements,” said Jon Månson.   

The Swedish company has long had a structured way of working: the Scania Way. Based on customer focus, respect, team spirit, responsibility and avoiding waste, Scania works to ensure safety, quality, low costs and optimal processes. “Through continuous improvement, we have a leading position in the field of sustainable transport.” 

Complex set up 
Scania employs some 57,000 people across seven regions. A rough tenfold of largely autonomous business units serve more than a hundred countries. Månson calls it a combination of “coordinated and uncoordinated independence,” which is quite challenging in a corporate culture that values consensus strongly.  

Apart from this complex set-up, everywhere one has to deal with the aforementioned modularity, where the components used are themselves constantly subject to change and improvement. All this puts the necessary pressure on decentralized sales and marketing departments, many of which have to deal with a multitude of product configurations and prices using their own systems.  

A central SCRM, based on a single version and corresponding data model, would enable sales representatives better than ever to sell sustainable transportation solutions based on customer requirements and supported by data-driven insights. Anderson MacGyver was contacted for the rollout in 2021. 

No clear picture

“The local stakeholders at that time did not have a clear picture of the added value of the new system,” says De Laat. “SCRM was mainly seen as a way to save costs, which was not even an objective on paper. Partly because of this, the internal fan base was lacking.”  

In addition, ideation and solutioning, as stated, took place primarily bottom-up. “As a result, the product owner was overloaded with requirements. The mandate to be able to determine priorities in consultation was lacking.” Larger local markets were also powerful enough to be able to override global guidelines, which made global standardization and rollout difficult. While there was indeed a great need to integrate, local teams often failed to meet the requirements to do so.  

A quick and successful re-launch of the CRM-program was based on four pillars, according to the Anderson MacGyver consultant: clear vision, structured demand management, local configuration capabilities and unified data products. 

According to De Laat, it started with a clear product vision, with all stakeholders committing to the intended setup. “In addition, we introduced Agile Product Ownership in combination with structured demand management, based on three pillars: aggregation of needs within the various markets, prioritization on added value of requested functionality, and a standardized rollout in all markets.” 

For the necessary support, it was important to facilitate the necessary freedom for specific local needs. This was done in part based on a “configuration federated approach” for the most mature markets with their own development teams. “This theoretical possibility for market-specific configuration contributed greatly to the necessary support and the possibility of acceleration. Although ultimately no one chose this.” 

A “functional federated approach” was available for all markets, where certain features could easily be turned on or off, keeping local needs and tastes in mind. De Laat: “This allowed them to create their own system locally based on central capabilities and best-practices provided.” 

Uniform data products  
SCRM offers uniform data products to all data users. In addition to the standard data collection from Microsoft Dynamics, generic near-real-time streaming data products are available via APIs, and more specific data can be exchanged to and from the central data layer on demand.  

Before Anderson MacGyver and Månson could get to work with all this, they faced an unexpected obstacle: there were calls from local stakeholders to replace the already partially deployed Microsoft system for that of competitor Salesforce.  

De Laat: “After analysis, it was clear that little or nothing would be gained from a different solution in a functional sense. And since a quarter already worked with the intended SCRM, an alternative solution would have taken us even longer. By actively selling the added value of the chosen solution we realized the necessary support.” 

Scania’s Jon Månson looks back on the journey with Anderson MacGyver with satisfaction: “There are still challenges, of course, but the speed with which we are now making strides is making a big impression within our organization. It shows that you can achieve this kind of change without top-down control in close cooperation with the various markets. And that you can overcome the usual friction between central and decentralized, and mutual departments.”  

Three things were fundamental here: make stakeholders themselves responsible for their decisions, consistency in terms of chosen direction, and involving the right people. Månson: “On the last point, we benefited greatly from the help from Anderson MacGyver. Cliff and his team have made real breakthroughs.”  

The management style based on harmony and support also contributed to the success. “I constantly asked myself what I could do for the stakeholders,” said Scania’s Head of Sales Digitalization. 

Courage and backing    
 “We took everyone with an opinion seriously,” adds Cliff de Laat. “With internal politics, things were reduced to the essentials. Naturally, we were willing to discuss and confront them. The courage and backing shown by Jon helped enormously in this regard.” 

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