PADI Dives Deeper into e-Synergy System

The scuba-diving certification agency expands its use of Exact Software's management suite.

What a difference two years makes.

In the summer of 2003, eWEEK Labs interviewed Sharon Dill, then director of IT at PADI Americas, about her organizations use of Exact Softwares e-Synergy system. We recently caught up with Dill, who is now CIO of the organization, to see how the system has performed over time.

e-Synergy was originally implemented at PADI, a scuba-diving certification agency, as a way to better manage relationships with its more than 100,000 members.

In 2003, PADI was primarily using the e-Synergy CRM (customer relationship management) module, with about 100 PADI employees on the system. Since then, said Dill, PADI has expanded its use of e-Synergy to include the systems documents, projects and workflow modules, and almost 400 employees are using the system.

Many of the new users are in PADIs international offices. Last year, Dill trained employees in PADIs offices in Switzerland, England and Australia.

"Were a global company," said Dill, based in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. "Our members tend to travel from office to office—where the sun is shining—so the main driving force [for this expanded use of e-Synergy] was to be able to have customer comments that everyone has access to."

Once a day, PADI uses an XML integrator to upload new information from five Exact Macola databases, located across the globe, into e-Synergy.

In August, PADI Americas and PADI Europe started to make use of e-Synergys documents capability to cut down on paper and ease access to member information.

"We have a huge file room thats bursting at the seams with paper," said Dill. "In the past, we would create a manila folder, put a member number on it and put any significant pieces of paper in it. Now, we scan this kind of paperwork and link it to members records in e-Synergy."

Dill said PADI has also significantly expanded its use of workflow and roles within e-Synergy, "so something doesnt get sent out and stuck in limbo if someone is not around."

One of the limitations noted in eWEEK Labs review of the latest build of e-Synergy, which starts at left, is that the systems workflow engine supports only four steps within a process. Dill said this has not been an issue for PADI, for the most part, but there have been instances when "a fifth step would have been nice."

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read the review of e-Synergy.

For example, said Dill, the process for approving PADI bulk e-mail messages had to be squeezed into four steps to make it work in e-Synergy : Marketing makes a request to send a bulk e-mail message; the request must then be approved by an IT executive; the approved request then goes to a programmer who pulls the appropriate e-mail targets; and, finally, the request goes to a Web staff person who sends the e-mail message.

Dill said she would have liked to be able to include a fifth step—where marketing would automatically be informed that the e-mail had been sent—but, instead, the original requester has to go in and check to see if the process has been completed.

Dill said PADI employees are also making much greater use of e-Synergys projects module—another manila-folder-killing application.

For example, said Dill, a project was created in e-Synergy for a diving seminar that was slated to take place late last month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. From any browser-based system, the PADI instructor giving the seminar could access information ranging from the members registered for the seminar to the refreshments scheduled to be served at the site.

When eWEEK Labs last spoke with Dill in 2003, she related some targets for e-Synergy that she hoped to meet this year. Many of those goals have been achieved, but she is still working on developing e-Synergy for use as an interface for external customers, among other things.

In fact, Dill said it was interesting to reread the case study that eWEEK published in July 2003 to see how far she had come with e-Synergy and where she would like to go.

"If you would have asked me two years ago if it would have taken two years to get this far, I would have said no—we can do it much faster than that," she said. "I think something of this scale really does take time to nurture."

Executive Editor Debra Donston can be reached at

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