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How Do You Successfully Sell a Siebel Upgrade to the Business?

Over the last two years, I have seen an increasing number of clients using Siebel CRM exploring a Siebel upgrade, only to delay until “next year”.  This reasoning usually makes sense from a business perspective based on the commonly touted benefits.  Lets look a the commonly touted benefits, and the common business (or budgeting) response.

  • Get the benefits of Open UI – As a like-for-like maintenance upgrade done as inexpensively as possible, the benefits of Open UI are typically pared down to:
    • Multi-browser support (aka: Internet Explorer is de-supported) – The purse strings hear “spend money on technical debt”, for which the standard response is: “How long can we hold off?”
    • A Modernized Interface – The common response is “…how does that improve our profitability?”
    • Mobile Siebel – The common response is “Great! Do a proto-type and make sure it works on our devices”, and then you realize that through the years, you have added way too many fields to your Siebel screens, and you need to do more work to make a truly usable mobile solution.
    • Move to the Innovation Pack (IP) release schedule – Again, IT is saying that future IP upgrades will not be as expensive, yet the business is hearing “we will need to spend less money on technical debt in the future”, for which the standard response changes to: “That will be good, but how long can we hold off?”

To quote the great fictional businessman Don Draper; “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”  As an IT manager or director, part of your job is to create value for the business as inexpensively as possible.  Part of that is communicating value to the business through effective business justification.

One way to start this process is by changing the IT spend from operational expense to capital expense and getting away from the concept that the upgrade is simply spending money on technical debt. This perception shift can be tactically accomplished by leveraging much of the work needed for an upgrade, yet providing more value to the business.

With Open UI and a few weeks of cutting-edge usability design, some UI development, and a bit of change management, you can create a user perception of a completely new, and more useful CRM application, with only about a 20% addition to the upgrade budget.  I call this the ‘upgrade and enhance’ approach to the Siebel upgrade.

In this model, you aren’t simply spending money to upgrade Siebel in a like-for-like format, you are designing and developing the perception of a ‘new’ CRM using the Siebel Open UI framework.  A well executed upgrade and enhance project will:

  • Cuts user-system interaction time by up to 80% – meaning higher call volumes per user, faster time to close, more time spent selling, higher order volume per user… pick the metric that resonates within your business. Note: I have seen common user activity times drop from 12 minutes to 2 minutes! 
  • Adds useful mobility – A promise of useful mobile CRM access is always well-received by the business stakeholders.
  • Reduces training and system support needs – How much time and money is spent on training and system support today? You can spend less.
  • Improves user adoption – How many user requests are in your Siebel backlog that you can’t or won’t implement? Wipe out that backlog.  How many hours from your team does that represent?
  • Exposes a modern customer portal through Siebel – Improving your customer’s experience, reducing load on the call center, capturing leads directly, and/or removing the need for custom web development and/or integration to your current portal, and the maintenance that goes with them.
  • Leaves your users saying “Wow, this is much better than the old Siebel” – Giving everyone a positive feeling about the initiative.


I know what you’re thinking – nice story, but how does this work?

Sample Upgrade Timeline to an Innovation Pack

Most Siebel upgrades from 8.x to an Innovation Pack are scoped for about 3 to 6 months, with costs having a wide range depending on internal vs. vendor resources, the complexity of the Siebel configuration, and how much testing you typically perform for major releases.



Sample ‘Upgrade and Enhance’ Timeline to Open UI

Now look at the sample upgrade and enhancement timeline below.  Through adding a work stream focused on usability, using modern web design methods like journey mapping, contextual interviews, wire framing, usability testing, and modern web development, you can re-use all of the planned project activities.  This plan delivers a perception of a ‘new’ Siebel CRM and completely new user experience (which could be touted as capital spend).



IT — Leverage What You’ve Got!

The Siebel functionality that you have spent years refining for the business has tremendous value, so leverage it! Change the funding conversation from “spend on technical debt” to “enhancement to the business process”, and bring value to your user-base in a way that they gave up on years ago – while setting your development team up for the future. To learn more about how to modernize Siebel with Open UI, download our on-demand event which details how a leading high-tech manufacturer cut sales user/system engagement times by 80%.

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