Case Study: Strategic IT Consulting
A very large charitable organization faced a predicament very familiar to any growing business: inefficient management of tens of thousands of external contacts and the workflow associated with them. The organization spent significant time and money with a global management consulting and technology services company developing a customized tool based on Microsoft technologies — Dynamics CRM 4.0, Outlook, Excel and SharePoint. Information was often localized on individual computers, leading to unwanted repeat customer contacts and ineffective workflow processes.
The CRM solution provided by the global management consulting company was intended to support approximately 400 users across multiple teams and locations. However, six months after the launch of the tool, only a handful of end users were actively using it and costs were high for even the smallest enhancements. The solution was so over-customized that users were unable to use much of the core functionality available in the tool.
The client desired a cost-effective solution that would provide its end users with the functionality they needed while building a tool that could scale to a wider audience. Ideally, the solution would unify external customer information with improved workflow while leveraging the Microsoft technologies already in place, enabling simpler implementation of the tool by more organization teams in the future.
CRM projects often take a year or two to complete and involve delays and cost overruns, but the team needed to find an effective solution in a much shorter time frame.
After evaluating proposals from multiple global and national consulting services firms, including the original vendor, the client proceeded with AIM’s recommendation to migrate information for six of its internal teams to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, a strategy that aligned with the organization’s long-term technology vision. A team of three AIM consultants, experts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, implemented the cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for the six teams in projects averaging less than 12 weeks apiece.
AIM tailored robust solutions for each of the teams according to their unique business needs. The scope of the projects included migrating existing data, redesigning existing functionality to be compatible with the native Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online environment, and creating new reports and dashboards to support executive management.
Team 1: This solution was configured specifically for the needs of different roles and business challenges within the team. With AIM designing a process to automatically link meeting participation from a tracked Outlook appointment to the appropriate event, users no longer had to separately track this information. Most importantly, the solution gave the team real-time visibility into its activities as a way to monitor responses to external requests.
Team 2: The second team had overlapping functionality and contacts with the first team. Backed by its deep experience with Dynamics CRM Online, AIM assured the client that having both teams on the same instance could occur without negative impacts to either team. Further, it would ease any future transition to the enterprise-wide solution by minimizing the amount of data reconciliation required. From leveraging the first implementation, this project required only nine weeks to complete.
Team 3: The third team had been using Dynamics CRM Online for nearly a year but was still relying heavily on individual spreadsheets for much of its work. AIM spent time with each of the users to understand their work processes and how information in their different spreadsheets aligned and could be consolidated within the online tool.
Team 4: The fourth team was responsible for managing relationships with several external partners and briefing executives at the organization on these interactions. Because the focus of this group and its contacts did not overlap with other teams, a new instance was created for this team. AIM guided the users in uploading their existing contact information into Dynamics CRM Online. In addition, functionality was built to enable team members to tag specific meetings for follow-up and to help manage partner relationships.
Team 5: The fifth team needed to track highly confidential information around commitments and donations. Because of the sensitive nature of the information, this team was provided a separate instance of CRM Online. The solution included special functionality to automatically calculate totals for the commitments and donations across different dimensions tracked by the team, as well as a streamlined process for capturing details used to generate the team’s regular status report.
Team 6: The final project consisted of merging a highly customized Dynamics CRM 4.0 On Premises site into the first team’s Dynamics CRM Online site. The original On Premises site required two years for a competitor to develop, but AIM completed this project in just 16 weeks.
One of the original tool’s core features was a quarterly contact data feed, which AIM transformed into a much more robust SaaS solution. The time to process the data feed was shrunk from an entire day to just three hours. With the new data-feed process, users can make any necessary updates between runs and re-process the data whenever corrections to the data files are needed, efforts that were not possible with the original tool.
Feedback was stellar. The client benefited from improved workflow, more efficient internal communication, and much clearer interaction with external contacts. The solution met the organization’s goal of providing a more cost-effective, user-friendly, scalable tool for limited budget. It also provided several improvements that had been out of reach of the original solution.
From its thorough understanding of the teams’ business processes and the underlying security model of Dynamics CRM Online, AIM was able to design CRM solutions that provided the right level of shared contact information while restricting potentially sensitive information to certain teams. This allowed multiple teams to use the same tool with custom access to different data sets.
Cost savings were considerable. Because the solution is cloud-based, the organization has no need to purchase or manage physical infrastructure, enabling more resources for its charitable mission. Simple form changes, such as adding or moving fields that on the old platform could take a week or more, are now done in minutes. The solution has become integrated into the organization’s business processes and work lifestyle.
As an additional benefit, the charitable organization gained enough exposure with Dynamics CRM Online to be comfortable basing its long-term strategy on this platform. Added savings were achieved later by adopting a smooth and rapid upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2013, providing even more functionality for the teams.