Melbourne-based wooden panel distributor Gunnersen synchronizes calendars and emails between SugarCRM and Exchange

Gunnersen is the leading wood-based panel products, timber, and decorative surface material distributor in Australia and New Zealand. The company has been using Riva for calendar and email integration since 2010 to assist sales and technical staff with reduced data entry and accurate synchronization between Sugar and Exchange.


Gunnersen is the largest independently-owned Australian distributor of wood-based panel products, timber, and decorative surface materials in New Zealand and Australia. With headquarters in Port Melbourne, Victoria, the company employs over 250 people nationally and overseas. Under the motto “Large enough to serve, small enough to care”, Gunnersen has a proud tradition of maintaining close relationships with its customers and suppliers. From large commercial insallations to kitchen renovations, Gunnersen distributes products for interior and exterior building applications. Gunnersen use a combination of SugarCRM CE with Exchange 2010. Riva bridges the gap between these two systems to seamlessly integrate email and calendar data.

The Challenge

Gunnersen first approached Riva in 2010 after having tried a number of add-ons to Sugar with less than satisfying results. The add-ons all required installation on each local device. And rather than performing the sync tasks automatically, users had to then specify the activity they wanted the add-on to perform – for instance, manually identifying email addresses and actions to undertake. This created extra work for their users who found themselves jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Instead of manually entering data into CRM, users were manually updating and managing their add-ons. With a multiplicity of calendars, devices, and field staff operating in different parts of the country, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the company to see what was happening in the field. The integration of sent and received emails was becoming increasingly time consuming and fragmented.

Summary of challenges:

  • Add-ons weren’t synchronizing automatically
  • Field staff on iPad calendars needed to integrate with CRM
  • Add-on needed to be installed and managed on every device
  • Users needed tools to lessen their workload, not increase it
  • No way to automatically sync calendars and emails on multiple devices

Gunnersen implemented Sugar in 2008 and subsequently spent a few months trying different plug-ins. However, the company quickly realized that plug-ins and add-ons weren’t the way to go. That’s when Stephen Watson, IT Manager at Gunnersen, went searching online for a server-side solution and found Riva. Stephen quickly realized the advantages Riva would have for his business. Being a server-side tool, Riva doesn’t require any software to be installed on individual users’ machines. Furthermore, no activity would be required from the users as Riva does all the work in the background. So he decided to give it a try.

The Solution

Riva On-Premise went live at Gunnersen in December 2010. “We installed the software originally on a virtual PC and later upgraded it to a small virtual server. The process was very simple and well supported”, Stephen commented.

Today Gunnersen relies on Riva to synchronize appointments, calls, tasks, addresses, emails, opportunities, and other calendar items. Gunnersen really appreciates Riva’s flexibility and takes full advantage of the ability to have multiple sync policies in place. They currently have two set up; one for sales reps that includes calendars and full automatic email sync, and one for managers excluding calendars and only one-way sync for email. A simple customization was put in place allowing for the field “contact organization”, which allows Gunnersen to manage the company’s industrial customers.

“SugarCRM prides itself on helping businesses maintain close relationships with their customers. Our customers are also at the heart of what we do, so we want the process of integrating email and calendar data to be simple and usable for business users. We’re pleased to be working with Riva as they enable Gunnersen to bridge the gap between their CRM system and their email system,” said Mark Troselj, VP Sales & Managing Director APJ, SugarCRM.

How Gunnersen benefits from Riva:

  • Riva On-Premise for sales and technical staff
  • Automatic synchronization of calendars and email
  • Two different sync policies in place
  • Only one admin required

The main advantage has been for sales and tech staff to be able to do away with their plug-ins, with full confidence that data is now being accurately recorded in the two systems. “The primary requirement was to get the data into CRM without the sales and tech teams doing any work”, Stephen said, which was solved elegantly by Riva. Since Riva is a totally automated and server-based system, the work is negligible from a user perspective and once the rules for integration were set, “it has been a zero admin operation.” Gunnersen utilizes Riva to synchronize data on mobile devices – especially iPad and phones – spanning across Exchange and various native email clients. In Sugar, Riva creates contacts, archives emails, synchronizes calendars (including recurring events), and completes other functions such as advanced contact sync and event filtering.

The Results

The result is more than satisfactory. According to Stephen, Riva just works. And even if something should break, the admin and users are not left hanging. Riva has an alert function that notifies specified admins in case of a disruption in sync. The log files allow for quick tracking of the root cause for possible errors. Stephen hasn’t needed to involve the Riva support team much over the last few years. “On the odd occasion that we had an issue, the response from Riva support has been exemplary and effective, even though most of the issues have been related to changes in the CRM system rather than issues within Riva”, Stephen explained.

In terms of savings, what Gunnersen’s sales and tech teams appreciate most isn’t the cost savings as much as the time savings made possible by Riva’s simplicity and efficiency. “Without Riva, the calendaring and mail integration would not be possible and Sugar’s value to us would be greatly reduced”, Stephen said. Riva not only shines in its basic functionality of reliably synchronizing data, it also helps many organizations with CRM adoption. This is where Stephen sees a huge advantage. “Riva just does what it does and does it seamlessly”, he claimed.

If you are interested in learning how Riva can help your company with CRM adoption, synchronization challenges, and creating happy users – please contact us today!

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