Fuji Xerox Printers has struck it fourth time lucky on its journey to embrace customer relationship management software, rolling out a cloud-based salesforce.com for its 15 channel sales staff.Ken Kozak (pictured), the company's local small and medium business acquisition and consumables manager, said Fuji Xerox had unsuccessfully deployed such software three times; the latest was Microsoft Dynamics CRM.Kozak, appointed to run the Fuji Xerox channel in April, said he was "horrified" to discover that the company had no formal CRM systems."I was absolutely flabbergasted," he said."I asked how did we deal with our partners without these very useful tools? Some account managers were playing with early versions of ACT, but most of the business development managers were using Outlook and Excel spreadsheets."He said customer software was an aid to time management: "A great opportunity to focus on things that are important at the time and leave the rest to follow up when it's appropriate".Kozak said than without such software the print company struggled to manage key accounts that crossed state borders or were otherwise managed by disparate staff.After reviewing the products he chose Salesforce.com, which rents its software over the network (through the "cloud" in industry parlance)."We're quite a mobile workforce," Kozak said."I was looking for a tool to allow mobile workers to access information anytime, anywhere, on a laptop or netbook or mobile phone. We recognised that Salesforce.com is globally the market leader in providing that."With the help of integration partner Fujitsu, Fuji Xerox built the solution in 10 days. Kozak said Fuji Xerox "could have gone with an out-of-the-box solution" but he wanted to customise it.The system was adapted such that staff can link sales opportunities to an end user, distributor and reseller, and see related information in a snapshot.Salesmen have a dashboard to show them the top 20 performing resellers or all the sales data for a key account or product shelf-keeping unit.And it was customised to allow for an automated workflow process around making requests for special prices. Requests generate emails to the relevant parties to gain approval, and field staff can check the status of a request using red or green flags on the system's interface.Fuji Xerox is working import sales data, such that managers can see the sales history of a dealer over the past year."Before this we weren't able to access all this useful information when we were out and about," Kozak said."Our sales team of 15 people have clawed back hours of work - I estimate 200 hours a week in improved productivity."This productivity is vital, he said, to boost channel sales and cope with growth."At Fuji Xerox, we're experiencing the kind of growth that to get to the next level, you need tools in place," he said. "As we add people, you need to give them access to all the relevant information quickly."Also, Fuji Xerox is a 'partners first' organisation - our growth depends on being out there working with partners. We have to be out there shoulder to shoulder with them. This software helps us to free up the time and work in the channel."Kozak said it took some effort to convince his company that software-as-a-service (SaaS) was the right fit, but he is very confident he made the right choice.He said the location and security of stored data "was certainly a challenge.""Being a Japanese company, we're very cognisant of our data. We did have to put together quite a business proposal, and it took time to convince all the stakeholders that the security was there and that the speed and access was there. We are comfortable that the data will be stored in secure servers, even if they are outside the country."Kozak isn't certain, but is comfortable that Fuji Xerox's data is being stored either in the US or in Singapore. He said he has noticed no delays in accessing the data due to network latency.