Our state department of education has an innovative program which involves sending hands-on math and science training kits to schools. These math and science kits are refurbished and distributed from 12 warehouses across the state. Along with tracking the individual materials inside the kits, as well as the locations of the kits, they were required to track the teacher’s training and certifications to train from each of these kits. Initially, the warehouses had used individual Filemaker Pro databases to track the materials, kits, schools, teachers, and certifications. As the program grew, they quickly realized they had outgrown Filemaker, and needed something more. That’s when we shared the Microsoft Dynamics CRM story with them. Microsoft CRM as an inventory management tool? Absolutely! We learned their requirements and customized a true xRM solution which took their two-dimensional Filemaker data and brought it to life with a true relational model. In the process, we also aided in reengineering and standardizing processes and cleaning up data. Our greatest accomplishment was integration of handheld mobile scanner devices running Windows Mobile and a custom scanner application we developed in house. With these scanners, the customer can scan barcodes representing the materials, the kits, and the teachers. The scanners pull and push data directly to Microsoft CRM via a custom web service we developed. All the barcode labels were produced within Microsoft CRM using the Mail Merge function. They gained more accurate accounting of materials, better information for reordering materials, and quicker refurbishment times. But where they really got results was in getting the right kit to the right teacher on time.
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