Brother upgrades SAP CRM to deliver more superior customer service

Brother International Europe needed to upgrade its SAP CRM system - a comprehensive multichannel, multilingual solution servicing 15 European countries - which had fallen out of SAP support. This entailed a wide-scope and comprehensive upgrade to SAP CRM 7.0 which was implemented using a collaborative approach.

Business challenge

Brother was concerned about mitigating and minimising risk to the business during the upgrade from SAP CRM 4.0 to SAP CRM 7.0. There wasn't a technical upgrade path available for much of the technology and because parts of the existing system were significantly bespoke, the upgrade had more of the re-implementation feel in many areas.

It was crucial that business continuity was maintained and that the impact to the business of any change was kept to an absolute minimum. Furthermore, there had to be high levels of certainty around both costs and timescales. 


As the existing system was considerably bespoke, Bluefin Solutions used the new version to reduce existing complexities by introducing new functionality to replace 'modifications and custom developments', and at the same time provide functional equivalence. The scope of the solution covered:

  • SAP CRM Service Management, including: Service processes in the SAP GUI, SAP Interaction Centre WebClient, SAP Internet Customer Self-Service (ICSS), SAP Email Response Management System (ERMS)
  • SAP CRM Sales (Web shop)
  • SAP CRM Marketing
  • SAP Enterprise Portal
  • Integration with SAP ECC

As no upgrade path existed for the WebClient, ICSS, the Web Shop or the PCUI, there had to be an element of re-implementation within the project.

In order to reduce risk and keep change freeze time to a minimum a parallel landscape was created which was upgraded and tested prior to upgrading the BAU landscape. Various testing cycles took place in this environment, thus reducing the time spent in each downstream system. This was also necessary to reduce any impact to other SAP projects that were running at the same time.

A mini blueprint was developed for areas where there was requirement to revert to standard or where like-for-like was not possible. The rapid, time-boxed blueprint enabled the in-house team to become quickly up-skilled onto SAP CRM 7.0. This allowed BIE to understand early on what they were getting as they had not seen this version of SAP CRM before. The blueprint also enabled Bluefin Solutions to scope out the solution at a high level by defining the business roles and their use cases. Having a clearly and visually defined scope and identifying reusable areas was especially beneficial when replacing PCUI parts of the application because newly built components could be used both internally and externally.

The upgrade was implemented using Bluefin Solutions' collaborative approach. BIE's in-house support team was completely involved with performing the functional side of the upgrade, whilst Bluefin Solutions provided functional oversight.

"Bluefin's use of experienced off-shore resource to complement the on-shore team helped improve the speed of delivery. It was essential we had minimal impact on the business, and this was successfully achieved." Sharon Hayes, Project Manager, Brother

Collaborative approach 

Bluefin Solutions and BIE worked as a single project team to provide the upgrade skills required. The collaborative approach enabled the in-house team to bring existing knowledge of the business and system to the project. Furthermore, it:

  • Minimised the cost of external resource by utilising in-house team members
  • Accelerated testing and problem resolution by ensuring the in-house team was familiar with real life scenarios
  • Reduced risk by ensuring in-house business continuity and post upgrade support by up-skilling the in-house team through first-hand experience of new technologies
  • Improved the speed and quality of communication

Business benefits

  • Reduction in costs by alleviating the need for extended maintenance
  • Increase in usability and user adoption with access to new product features, such as WebUI
  • Lower support costs by reducing the number of technologies that need to be supported. The reversion of bespoke to standard means that areas of the system that weren't previously supported by SAP now are
  • Enables continuous innovation with access to new SAP product features with the enhancement pack.

Working with Bluefin Solutions

Bluefin Solutions had previously worked with BIE on the service side implementation of SAP CRM, so was well placed to understand the client's business and systems. "Bluefin's use of experienced off-shore resource to complement the on-shore team helped improve the speed of delivery. It was essential we had minimal impact on the business, and this was successfully achieved," says Sharon Hayes, Project Manager, Brother.



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