Rethinking CRM at Trek Bicycle

Trek adds value to Microsoft Dynamics CRM by using Scribe to import data from ERP

david peterson trek

David Peterson, Trek Bicycle’s Enterprise Collaboration Manager

Trek Bicycle in Waterloo, Wisconsin, is North America’s largest bicycle manufacturer. The privately held company, which sells in more than 90 countries and employs 1,800 globally, installed Microsoft Dynamics CRM to get a better handle on sales data, but the system languished until David Peterson was handed the keys. Network World Editor-in-Chief John Dix recently caught up with Peterson, Trek’s Enterprise Collaboration Manager, to hear more about the transformation.

Let’s start with a thumbnail of your tech environment.

We’re heavily invested in the Microsoft stack on the collaboration side, with Exchange for email and SharePoint. In fact I started as the SharePoint Admin and just gained more and more responsibility over time. We’re now moving a lot of things to Office 365, and a lot of the capabilities you find in Office 365 I’m responsible for – things like

trek 2014 co logo

document collaboration, Unified Communication, video, enterprise social, CRM, document management, paperless initiatives, etc. But I also have the Helpdesk and the hardware side of things, including end using computing.

So I’m responsible for setting strategy and I have six direct reports that help enable that strategy and help keep the lights on by solving Helpdesk issues.

So you inherited the CRM system as well?

We’ve had Microsoft Dynamics CRM for about three years and I’ve been responsible for it for a little over two of those years.

Why was CRM originally brought in?

Trek is all about innovation, about trying new things. And before we brought in CRM there were a lot of homegrown solutions. There was little consistency and every rep had their own processes and their own tools.

But we noticed when people left or would change positions, those homegrown solutions wouldn’t transition very nicely. So let’s say you’re a rep and you do everything with Post-it notes and then I take over your territory and you hand me this box of notes. You know where they all go and how it all works, but now I’m left trying to figure out the puzzle. Not very scalable, right?

And we said, let’s apply some innovative thinking. The thinking was a CRM system would bring a lot more consistency to things.  So we looked at a lot of products and it came down to Salesforce and Dynamics CRM, and the main reason Dynamics won was because it fits with our full Microsoft BI stack and the price was better.

And when you stepped up was the CRM system helping address that sales problem?

We had to take a step back and reevaluate what we wanted out of a CRM system. We had to take a step back and reassess our ambitions and expectations. You have to start small and make it so that people using the tool have nowhere else to go to get the job done. When I say that it sounds like I’m talking about locking users in, but that’s not what I mean. A good example is, you can see all the orders in CRM, but you could also see them in our JDE ERP system. The difference is I could act on an order in JDE, but I can’t act on it in the CRM. I can’t release an order or cancel it. All I can do is see it. So what good is the order in CRM if I can go to JDE and actually act on it? I’m more likely to go to JDE to do that.

Do you own the ERP system too?

No. That’s managed by a different group in IT, but responsibility for the system is shared across the organization by finance, sales, logistics, distribution. 

So you have these two different environments with some replicated functionality and not enough people using CRM, the part you’re responsible for. How did you address that?

My big thing is marrying technology to business process. And starting small. Let’s not try to swallow the elephant in one bite. Let’s do it one bite at a time. So we started with things that really bothered the reps, things that were difficult to track or be consistent on, and built those into CRM.

One of the first was return to stock. That has been a gigantic pain for reps for years. If a store sends something back, more often than not the warehouse will get the stock back and then have to track down the rep to figure out what to do.

So I built a simple “return to stock” form in CRM and it’s tracked to the retailer and it sends emails out to the warehouses so they get informed in a timely manner, in a consistent format, and everybody knows who’s on first. That process has really cleaned things up and made the warehouse happier, made the reps happier, and everyone is happy to use CRM because they couldn’t accomplish that task anywhere else. We also added the ability to track shipments or missing items. We didn’t have a lot of insight into that until we built it into the CRM.

Clarify for me what you use CRM for and what stays in JDE.

CRM is very good at organizing unstructured data. You could use CRM to put all your structured data in as well, but that’s what our ERP system is for.  Likewise, you wouldn’t put unstructured data in your ERP system, JDE doesn’t do that very well, that’s what CRM was built for.

We use a tool called Scribe to pull data out of JDE and feed it to CRM. In doing so I can then do things like track email correspondence or phone calls or tasks and appointments and relate that data to accounts or contacts or really anything. It’s all about making those relationships and making them reportable, reviewable and consistent. Frankly, without Scribe, CRM doesn’t really have a lot of value. I need that master data in conjunction with all the processes we built to get the true value.

How does Scribe work?

Basically it’s a dump truck for your data. If I want data from a source and I want to move it to this target, it’s point and click. I might have to transform it a little bit or massage the data a little bit to get it to do what I want, and Scribe is good for that, too.

Do you set it up so the dump truck runs on its own or do you just call on it when you need it?

There’s a lot of ways you can use Scribe. Trek employees use Excel for a lot of tasks. So a lot of times people hand me spreadsheets and ask if they can be input into CRM. Sometimes that’s a nightmare, but Scribe makes it easy to import the data. But we also have a lot of recurring jobs that happen every 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or three times a day, and it’s got a fairly sophisticated scheduling engine.

Was the company already using Scribe when you inherited CRM?

Yes. CRM and JDE were already married via Scribe. 

Is this something you could have accomplished with APIs?

There are CRM connectors. I could pay a developer to use those APIs, but the beauty of Scribe is they’ve done all the work for you.

So how do you categorize where you are today with CRM?

Well, we’ve doubled our license count. And we have plans in the next handful of months to go global with it from a customer service perspective. Right now when you go to a contact page at you will, for the most part, get routed to CRM. Our goal is to have everything go to CRM so it’s more trackable, more consistent. And once we do that we’ll be considered global, and then we’ll start to look at other places in the business where we can scale out CRM.

How do you measure success here?

A lot of it’s anecdotal. I can walk up and down the halls and ask people what they think of CRM? When I first inherited it, they were like, “Ugh.” Now people ask me how they can do things in CRM. To me, that’s the measure of success.

Have we reached the pinnacle of success? Absolutely not, but we’re definitely on the path we need to be on. And we’ve got a lot of places to go from here. My goal is to make CRM the central repository for all consumer and customer interactions.

You mentioned social being part of your responsibility. Does the social sphere connect to the CRM world?

It does, but it’s definitely in its infancy. Yammer comes out of the box with CRM, but it isn’t used much today. We just turned on CTI integration, so now an incoming phone call pops a contact page in CRM. That’s been a big win for us. But in terms of getting people to use the enterprise social pieces of that, we’re moving in parallel, but at a slower pace.


This story, "Rethinking CRM at Trek Bicycle" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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