Westdeutsche Zeitung

Targeted subscriber approach with real added value thanks to data quality

“We took a big step forward with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Qlikview. We now have the mission-critical know-how and our customer addresses in-house. Sales and marketing can target subscribers with specific messages. We have better tools and clean data quality, while at the same time costs have been decreased. Another great asset is our partner COSMO CONSULT. This close cooperation brings our system to life and we get an honest assessment of which extensions are possible and economical.”

Björn Knippen, Head of Reader Market, Westdeutsche Zeitung

Company profile

Located in the urban landscape of Dusseldorf, Wuppertal and Krefeld, Germany, Westdeutsche Zeitung is one of the largest regional newspapers in Germany. The daily print edition is 80,000 copies, with 8 local editions produced to ensure regional proximity and local expertise. As a media company, the traditional communications company offers not only the “flagship” Westdeutsche Zeitung and the tabloid Düsseldorf Express, but also a broad range of journalistic services.

Initial situation

Subscriptions are an important part of newspaper distribution because they provide the circulation with predictable revenues. Correct address management is the basis for this. On the one hand, it ensures punctual and accurate delivery. Data quality is an absolute must because nothing is as old as yesterday’s news. On the other hand, the address database serves to support customer contact as well as sales and marketing in the context of campaigns. Since they did not have a real CRM, they worked a lot with Excel lists and external service providers. This meant that important customer data was not available in-house.

The challenge

Since its introduction around 20 years ago, SAP has been the leading system in the media house, controlling all business processes. The central system also worked well for delivering the newspapers. However, SAP proved to be not sufficiently flexible in utilization of the address material for other purposes such as sales reports or form letters. They did not have their own CRM system. A lot of the data was stored by an external service provider and thus the knowledge was not available in-house either.

The CRM was supposed to create a data hub and interface to SAP. Thus, the address data of customers, business partners and relevant transaction data such as orders and complaints were to be centrally available in-house and evaluable by company staff themselves.

What situations or consequences resulted because of the so far unresolved problems?

  • Since the data was stored at an external service provider, every query had to be stored there too. It was later recognized that queries needed to be modified, but that was impossible because of the complicated configuration.
  • The adaptation of form letters generated from SAP always required a lot of programming work.
  • Excel and Access were used for the distribution of the Westdeutsche Zeitung because evaluations from SAP were very inflexible. However, these office applications were prone to error.
  • The customer data was generally poorly updated, since the Westdeutsche Zeitung did not even handle this function themselves and external service providers often did a poor job, for example, when writing street names.

Solution provider

The choice of solution turned out to be a long process. Most service providers offered a business warehouse as a first step, but the associated high costs would have consumed the project budget right away. As part of a publishing industry survey, they came across the Handelsblatt and this reference was promising. At the same time, Global Concepts was commissioned to introduce Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the Scribe to SAP interface.

The solution


The Westdeutsche Zeitung team had clear ideas about the project, which were well implemented by COSMO CONSULT. They did not want to have to hire their own technicians and programmers in-house. All these services were to be provided by the implementation partner. For example, transferring the up to now familiar Excel statistics into the new tool. The employees themselves were to simply receive their desired evaluations at the click of a button without having to program. For this purpose, COSMO CONUSLT provided an employee who is deeply rooted in the publishing industry and is also available for extensions that are regularly required. As part of the implementation phase, the following tasks were solved by COSMO CONSULT:

  • The interface to SAP was established with Scribe. SAP remains as the main system from which the data is transferred daily.
  • The expertise of COSMO CONSULT came to bear at the beginning of the project during the complex transmission of data from the external service providers because it was apparent that the data quality was poor. All data was therefore passed through a data quality job and cleaned up before being entered into the new CRM. This was accomplished by the Omikron Data Quality Server for all critical data.
  • Moreover, the data was enriched with information such as purchasing potential and age. In total, around 4.7 million data records were evaluated.
  • An integrated solution was created with the CRM add-on “Documents Core Pack” to easily generate form letters in Microsoft Word.
  • Data is delivered from CRM in Qlikview, where the sales department can now automatically compile evaluations.

Why Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Qlikview

MS Dynamics CRM was the most liked because of its good price-performance ratio. One great advantage was that Westdeutsche Zeitung employees immediately felt at home in the Microsoft world because the Office environment is well-known.
 The visually appealing Qlikview is used for the analyses. The tool is powerful and meets the expectations. Meanwhile two employees even handle small programming tasks due to their simplicity, although this was not originally planned. The solution works reliably and stably, there are virtually no failures, even with mobile use.

Project participants & communication

The responsible project member of COSMO CONSULT is the central communication hub for the project manager and Westdeutsche Zeitung team. Thanks to his knowledge in the field of publishing and the processes at WZ, he can quickly assess which further expansion ideas are possible and feasible and which not. 

Communication in the project team is short and direct. Since the project has always been considered as a work in progress with gradual expansion, good cooperation is an essential factor for a future-proof solution.

The benefits

The most obvious benefit is the cost savings. Already during the implementation phase less was spent and yet at a higher level of performance than previously with external service providers during operation.

The data is now under their own data sovereignty. This results in many advantages: The data is accurately updated by themselves. They can create a variety of evaluations at any time and change them as required such as other statistics periods or regional views ad-hoc in a meeting. The data is available with a high level of granularity. For example, in the context of the Soccer World Cup a marketing campaign with personalized letters can be launched.

As an on-premise solution, the servers are located in Germany. The Westdeutsche Zeitung meets all the requirements for data protection at the high banking standard.

The subscription sales processes including campaign management, sales control, reporting, and complaints handling were improved. In this way small-scale letters can be created in the CRM.
 And thanks to rapid handling of complaints, there are fewer cancellations.

Interfaces between systems are functioning, quality issues are easily monitored, detected, and fixed in just one day. This ensures the high data quality.

Another big advantage is the web-based architecture of MS Dynamics CRM. Employees can access and update the data while traveling or at home. The team is satisfied with the features and the stability of the solution. The system is alive, meaning that future enhancements such as the involvement of the advertising department are possible at any time.

The benefits at a glance:

  • Lower costs with higher performance
  • The highly complex and huge amount of data has been cleaned up, data from customers and business partners are clean and centrally located in-house
  • All customer data is stored on servers in Germany
  • Employees from the subscription sales area can do their own evaluations, even ad-hoc in a sales meeting
  • The granularity of the data has been improved, which is advantageous in marketing
  • Faster response to customer inquiries and complaints results in better service and fewer cancellations
  • The web-based CRM also enables employees to work mobile
  • Stable solution that grows with the customer


This is a reference for COSMO CONSULT SI GmbH (formerly FWI Deutschland GmbH)

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