The HP Journey: An American Company Can Go Global


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Traditionally, HP would begin implementing a new CRM system by starting with a strong focus on systems design and functional specs. But when we set out to implement in Japan as part of our efforts to make the company’s CRM systems operate globally, we recognized it wouldn’t work that way.

The sales support operations manager, Kozo Sekino, who was our local eyes and ears with the sales and marketing groups in Tokyo, pointed out that the Japanese work better by being included in the business process definition early on. If you strongly involve management and multiple audiences along the way, you ensure that in the end you have maximum buy-in to the true business changes that need to occur. So we had to amend our usual approach for Japan. And then we realized that we needed to do the same for other countries€”without sacrificing the global standards HP aims to institute based on our long-term strategy.


Globalization meets resistance in many ways. For CRM, it usually arises through the local sales and marketing organizations such as our Japan country teams, who, for good reason, are concerned that their ability to meet customer needs may be hampered by an overzealous and globally-driven standardization effort. Oftentimes, highly customized, local solutions make the implementation of globally consistent business processes more challenging.

HP, where Mike has been for more than 20 years and Johannes has been for 10 years, has overcome some of the unique challenges an American-based company regularly faces when aiming for global standardization of business processes and IT infrastructures. As a whole, the company has always been intent of reducing cost to stay competitive. In today’s landscape, that requires trade-offs between global standardization and local needs. The IT infrastructure has become the notable beneficiary of the CRM effort: Global standards allow for much simpler IT environments and the retirement of a vast number of dispersed assets.

What is so unique about being an American-based company and how does this affect a CRM implementation outside the United States? Consider these three problematic characteristics and how HP handled them:

  • American companies are not anxious to spend much time on planning and implementing an agreed-to business process or solution.

    They want to see immediate results pertaining to the defined change, particularly from a financial perspective.

    Yet, when you’re implementing a solution in another country, you must be adaptive and culturally sensitive. In Japan, we recognized that all due diligence to the point of “pushing the button to be online with CRM” had to be done prior to the meeting with the top sales executive. Our usual order of implementation began with executive meetings to launch the effort. We reversed that in Japan.

    It took us about nine months to agree on the roadmap for Japan and set the “go-live” day—a real challenge for our deployment team. The benefit, however, was an explicit statement by the leaders that committed all management levels to the importance of utilizing CRM once we did deploy.

    Since January 2006, we have seen a tremendous business being managed through the new solution environment, using global standard processes in sales across field and inside sales. Every sales rep in Japan now uses the CRM system, both for field and inside sales, which was not the case before.

  • They tend to struggle to find the right regional balance for common standards.

    One example is the stricter and varying customer privacy standards in different countries. But you can find this struggle in business processes as a whole. For example, should HP follow the same selling methodology in Japan that it does in Canada?

    To address this, we gathered feedback from top executives, specifically including the regional sales and marketing managers in this process, something that had not been the case in earlier efforts. We also formed a permanent governance structure with and strong regional representation.

    A global team at HP designed the future-state global business processes. We developed a common account planning and selling methodology by including as many regional people in the planning as we could.

    Japan team members from sales and marketing took part routinely in key global workshops well before we even made it to the hot implementation phase in Q4 of 2005 by adding their valuable inputs into the business process design. High personal buy-in proved the case—although it was not an easy achievement, given the continuous involvement of hundreds of decision-makers and subject matter experts. “Global Process Consistency” was initially just the project name. It has since become the unspoken and guiding principle for the effort. Go to Japan, and you will find that “GPC” is almost like a “rallying cry.” The end result was considerable cost reductions in the IT infrastructure, as we consolidated and eliminated redundancy and increased productivity for both sales and marketing.

  • They don’t integrate non-technical resources consistently.

    Despite the fact that American-based companies know the importance of managing the organizational and people-related transitions associated with a changed—and usually more integrated—CRM environment, there is often a false focus on technical deployment.

    HP put a real focus on process adoption. It led us to have task forces dedicated by region—and in some cases by country—to securing not just technical deployment but also adoption of the CRM system. In Japan, we formed an extended task force that dedicated substantial time to the implementation. It included representatives from our call center in Fukuoka, field sales personnel in the local enterprise group and marketing managers from our three business groups. We complemented these with resources helping the prospective end-users with the organizational readiness.

Top-level executive commitment is a must-do, but the real work is to engage first-level sales and marketing users in regions and country field organizations; explain the business value of CRM in simple terms; and engage them through workshops, posters or video messages to their staff. That is exactly what we did in Japan—and what we do in other countries across the world.

Mike Overly
Mike Overly is a director for Hewlett-Packard and has worldwide responsibility for Hewlett-Packard's Customer Relationship Management, Sales Productivity, Contract Operations and Privacy. Johannes Biermann is senior manager for the Global Management-of-Change Practice in Managed Services at Hewlett-Packard. His previous work was at Siemens AG's corporate strategy and management consulting group. His business education is from the University of Cologne in Germany.


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