Rollout good, everything’s good?

One of the largest BSI CRM projects went live last year with Gothaer: an agency system and multichannel CRM which enables the independent external sales team to complete everything in one single system. A challenging undertaking that required completing more than just IT and project work to ensure a successful rollout. This progress report details how the project team from Gothaer and BSI mastered the highs and lows with combined strengths.

Through high-quality risk and finance concepts, Gothaer offers its customers comprehensive solutions that go beyond pure in-surance and pension matters. The insurance group sells its products through an independent sales force, through brokers as well as through direct sales. With the rollout of BSI CRM, all 1,195 independent external sales agencies now have a central application for customer care at their disposal. With the BiPRO-based process-oriented solution, Gothaer now combines various different systems into a central application.

CRM is a change project

A considerable amount of preliminary work – also beyond the IT and project business – was necessary in advance. While the technical part of the project was complete when the software went into productive operation, the qualitative part was just beginning, and change management became a central element for the project’s success. That is why CRM may not only be dealt with inside the IT department, but must be considered a holistic project. The Gothaer project managers Sebastian Wertenbruch (CRM System Manager) and Eckart Struck (Technical CRM Program Head) shared with us their most important findings from the project and provided recommendations for a successful CRM introduction:

“Users can complete everything in one single system.”

Sebastian Wertenbruch, CRM System Manager at Gothaer

1. First the cellar, then the floors!

All underlying functions (authorization system, update routines, automated processes) should be in place at the beginning in the project plan, because they radiate out to all other functions. They are the foundation on which the other functions are built.

2. Coach users beyond the core training

The CRM philosophy is completely new for many users and requires a complete rethinking of their work processes. Many external sales people initially view CRM as a new agency system; the advantages of CRM only gradually become apparent. In addition, independent sales organizations have developed very heterogeneous methods for handling a task. CRM standardizes these processes. This requires the willingness of users to change their work processes and to invest time in the CRM migration. It is very important here to support users beyond the core training with competent coaches.

3. Switch off old systems

The Gothaer CRM is an extremely broad and deep system. As a precaution, the old systems were left open for use in parallel throughout the rollout so that there would be a fallback solution in place. While this really helped us in the critical phase, a fixed switch-off date should be communicated in advance, one that is set to allow sufficient time for follow-up work and to rectify errors. Then the old systems should be switched off.

4. Institutionally involve users

While BSI’s expertise is fantastic, the users’ practical knowledge of how specific processes are to be optimally conducted is extremely valuable and cannot be compensated by any expertise. It is worth institutionally involving users. This takes energy, but pays off in the end.

5. Processes must be fit 100%

The core processes must run absolutely efficiently and effectively, otherwise they generate costs in productive operation. Test them until they fit 100%. You may have to customize them in a pinch.

6. Piloting is a must

Is piloting out? Not at all! While Gothaer CRM has more than 5,000 test cases, the use contexts and situations cannot be covered by them, which is why piloting of the tested systems was a mandatory step in the planning. It supplied important findings and made it possible to fine tune the processes. In our opinion, piloting is a necessary prerequisite for the introduction of a complex CRM system. Everything that you discover and improve during piloting increases acceptance of the system.

“Testing, piloting and coaching are success factors for an effective CRM introduction.”

Eckart Struck, Technical CRM Project Manager at Gothaer

7. Plan for corrections

Piloting is nice, but it’s a lot of work! Therefore, make sure to plan sufficient time and money for the corrections; otherwise piloting is all for nothing.


“Users no longer need to jump back and forth between different applications, but can instead get everything done in a single system. The new system offers many advantages. This was especially confirmed to us by our colleagues from independent sales,” enthused Sebastian Wertenbruch. Eckart Struck added: “Gothaer masterfully managed a logistically complex rollout. Supporting measures, such as comprehensive testing, piloting and subsequent coaching proved to be success factors for the effective implementation”.

Sebastian Wertenbruch and Eckart Struck presented the most important insights and success factors for a rollout at the “Together BSI” anniversary event.