When One More Spreadsheet is One Too Many: Connecting Fragmented Departments with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

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We recently completed a  Microsoft Dynamics® CRM 2011 XRM project with a supplemental educational services (SES) provider who helps students do better in school through online tutoring. They currently serve over 9,000 students and are approved in 33 states. In order to get approved in each district and extend their reach helping students, they need to contact and market their services to school districts. Before they started working with us, they handled tracking this correspondence through Excel spreadsheets. Let’s take a closer look at what that meant for this education services organization:

  • Marketing- Their marketing department was using an Excel spreadsheet that listed all the districts and contacts within those districts and theycreated detailed notes in the Excel file during every call they made. The problem with this was that no other department could see these notes. The marketing department also ran into a few instances where there had been previous contact made, but they didn’t have insight into what those conversations touched on. They had  to start at “phase one” every time they reached out to new prospects and/or existing districts.
  • Contracts- The contracting department had to keep close track of what contracts they had sent out to what districts as well as what date the contract went out and what date it came back in. By tracking this in a spreadsheet, follow up was tedious and often confusing. It really limited them from a growth standpoint.
  • Billing and Invoicing- They did invoicing in another system, but it didn’t provide a lot of functionality that they needed; so they added another Excel spreadsheet to the mix of information that included what district had been invoiced, and whether that payment had gone through or not. This information was never real-time, therefore skewing the financial information they had insight to.
  • Events- Once our client gets approved in each state they are required to go through mandatory meetings to continue serving that particular district. These meetings were another thing they had to track closely so as to meet each district’s requirements. This required yet another spreadsheet  tracked separately from all the rest.

As you can imagine, this many spreadsheets within a company can cause major confusion. Each spreadsheet was segmented in different ways and made it nearly impossible to compare data in order to capture a true picture of their operation. For example, billing would call district contacts about invoices and also have an overall conversation about how things are going. Then marketing would call the very next day to see how things are going, not realizing they had already spoken to billing the day before. This miscommunication put their customer satisfaction at risk and wasted time within every department.

In addition to keeping track of contact information, district name, address, superintendent, upcoming school information, students in district, as well as how many they can serve inside that district, they also had to keep track of all-up information for each school year. They needed the information in a standardized view so they could easily see where each district stood in terms of services they could offer.

As a Certified Microsoft Dynamics Partner with dual Gold competencies in ERP and CRM based out of Michigan, The TM Group extended the functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 through XRM customizations and workflows specific to ATS’s unique educational services provider needs. Their solution included the implementation of the major components of CRM including accounts, contacts, and marketing, but also went further with key enhancements. By simply re-purposing the information CRM already captures, we made it possible for our client to see all the different records for all the different schools in an all-up dashboard view. In addition to current information about contracts, invoices, and number of students, they can also see previous school years and make easy comparisons for optimal business intelligence.

By simply putting all their information into one system, our client is reaping benefits left and right:

  1. Event Tracking: In their weekly meetings, they can now quickly report on how many events were attended and for which districts. They can also view how many more events are required for a particular school year.  Dashboard views help here so they don’t need to conduct manual counts or cross-check multiple documents.
  2. Streamlined and Effective Marketing: The marketing department is now on the same page as everyone else in the company AND everyone else can see the notes they make while communicating with prospects and existing districts. They can easily keep track of how many phone calls they made on a weekly basis and can also share this information easily in weekly meetings.
  3. Collaboration Made Possible: Now that everything is recorded in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, they have insight into all departments. Contracting department can see into invoices. Marketing can see into contracts. It has made collaboration possible and growth, limitless.

This is an extreme case of the over utilization of Excel spreadsheets by multiple users within an organization to run the daily operations of their business.  Excel wasn’t designed for this, but Microsoft Dynamics CRM was designed to help organizations collaborate and perform at optimum levels. If you feel your company manages one too many spreadsheets, causing confusion instead of helping, contact us at The TM Group to learn how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help.

Also, we’ll be spotlighting some  key add-on solutions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM at our upcoming Microsoft Dynamics Conference called Vision 2011.  Vision 2011 takes place on October 11, 2011 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Management Education Center in Troy, Michigan.  It is open to organizations considering new  CRM or ERP solutions and provides an excellent in-depth view of Microsoft Dynamics.  No cost to attend, but reservations are required. For more information, call Jennifer Swiderski at 888.482.2864 or email jennifers@tmgroupinc.com.


By The TM Group, Michigan  Dual Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM Partner for Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint


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