Thursday, June 28

Symantec Says “We’re Sorry”

By joe 4 comments

Symantec CEO John Thompson and more than a dozen other top company executives have been working the phones in recent months, apologizing to partners who were frustrated by problems with Symantec’s online ordering systems. Julie Parrish, VP of global channel sales and strategy at Symantec, spoke with me today — describing how the problems started in November 2006 and outlining the corrective measures Symantec has taken since that time.

Rewind to November 6, 2006. That’s when Symantec merged its ERP systems with those of Veritas (which Symantec had acquired in 2005). Problems with the merged system surfaced within days of its activation. Some partners — including heavy hitters like CDW and Ingram Micro — quickly noticed some glitches. “CDW and Ingram were pretty unhappy [at the time],” concedes Parrish. “They had thousands of transactions pending with us but couldn’t see where those transactions were in the queue.”

But the new systems’ problems went beyond poor visibility. Some partners, Parrish recalls, complained about the “user experience not being quite right. We quickly had to study whether we were dealing with broken processes or user experience issues” with the online ordering system. Long-time partners who logged into the new system, for instance, complained that they had to input in-depth info about their businesses — when, in fact, Symantec already had some of that info on its internal systems, Parrish concedes.

In mid-November, Symantec was organizing and activating internal swat teams to size up the problems and prioritize the technical fixes. By December, Symantec was also hard at work looking at the user experience issues. From January through February of 2007, Symantec completed “quick wins and urgent fixes” on the system. “Since February we’ve been head-down in fix-it mode” on the remaining issues, Parrish says. “But we haven’t stopped the processes where we gather information” to understand any other remaining issues.

To Symantec’s credit, the company has been vocal about the system challenges and fixes. CEO Thompson discussed the issues during an earnings call in January. Symantec CIO David Thompson (a veteran of the Oracle/PeopleSoft merger) followed-up with more information in February. And Symantec responded to frustrated partners in CRN in March.

So where do things stand today? It sounds like the ERP hiccups are over, and Symantec has also worked to improve user experiences. In one area, for instance, a 22-step process has been reduced to a seven-step process, Parrish notes.

Symantec has also surveyed partners (a standard practice at the company). Parrish notes that overall partner perceptions have improved when comparing survey results from the January time frame to the March time frame.

Still, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. CEO Thompson and more than a dozen other executives continue to reach out to partners to make sure all concerns have been heard.

Symantec is scheduled to announce quarterly earnings on July 25.

Comments (4)

  1. My boss got a phone call from Symantec apologizing for this situation in April. Things have improved a bit since that time and the call may have restored our company’s faith in symantec. still too soon to say but things are much better than they were in December.

    Brent Procida, June 29th, 2007 at 12:25 am #
  2. I haven’t noticed any problems since January. Whatever they did to fix the system seems to have worked.

    james moore, July 2nd, 2007 at 2:57 pm #
  3. […] a channel-friendly company.” Though he acknowledged that Symantec made working with the company a little challenging in the past few years, while it was digesting Veritas, Thompson said that the channel is “the principal route to touch […]

    TechIQ » Archive » Connecting the Dots: Symantec Partner Exchange Kickoff, September 11th, 2007 at 12:44 pm #
  4. […] documented the problems (and Symantec’s corrective actions) before, and was interested to hear more about the Symantec Protection Network’s status. And […]

    MSP Mentor » Symantec: Software as a Service Platform in January?, December 11th, 2007 at 2:43 am #

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