Sustainability Victoria has improved internal workflow and data visibility, plus enhanced stakeholder targeting and engagement, by deploying a new cloud-based CRM.
The government organisation, responsible for facilitating and promoting environmental sustainability initiatives across Victoria, chose to adopt a cloud-based CRM after a siloed working environment resulted in the consistent mishandling or loss of information, poor understanding of relevant customers and inefficient procedures.
Previously, up to 60 per cent of staff claimed they didn’t have the information required to perform their role. Employees were also undertaking a significant amount of duplicated effort—spending an average of 30 minutes per contract printing and hand-delivering documents due to a lack of workflow automation.
“We needed to understand who our stakeholders were, so that was one of the main drivers for the CRM, but also we needed to automate a lot of our business processed which were previously all paper-based and required lots of manual handling of data,” said Chris Moon, information systems business manager at Sustainability Victoria.
“This meant data often got lost in translation, or mistyped between systems, so we now use the CRM to also link all of our other processes together. It now runs virtually all of our corporate services.”
The deployment of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM Online represented SV’s first adoption of a CRM system, as well as its first foray into the cloud.
Benefits of adoption
Following the agency-wide rollout of the Dynamics CRM earlier this year, Moon said information is now more accurate and accessible. Data can now be seen and managed by everyone in the organisation, providing insights around stakeholders, productivity, goals and milestones.
The new system has also led to a significant reduction in the time it takes to carry out everyday jobs, with some tasks for event managers going from taking 12 hours manually, to 30 minutes with the CRM.
“To prepare a contract previously required up to 24 manual signatures, now the entire system handles it and the only signature is on the final contract at the end of the process, as opposed to a lot of the internal paper-based signatures,” Moon said.
The organisation now also better understands their relationship with stakeholders more deeply, engages with them more effectively through targeted communications, and tracks the associated outcomes.
“Instead of brainstorming who might be interested in this campaign or event, we can use the CRM to say ‘show us everyone we’ve had an interaction with about recycling in Gippsland’, and you can pull that query out of the system and then you’ve got a lot more accurate list of people to go to.”
The new capability of staff has also led to some innovative thinking, with more advanced members of the stakeholder management team and events management team proposing new ways to use the new system, in addition to current improvements.
Integration and implementation
Moon says the choice to go with the Microsoft offering over a SalesForce CRM was due to the ease of integration with existing Microsoft systems in place.
“We use Office 365 for our email and communications, and we also use SharePoint extensively, and Microsoft Dynamics GP is our finance platform. The Microsoft CRM plugs into all of those things very easily and just works, and it’s a big win for us,” he said.
Though the new CRM has been utilised by a number of eager employees, Moon said facilitating staff take-up is an ongoing challenge, and more encouragement is needed for individual departments and projects.
“It’s working well, we’re really pleased with the use of it, but staff take-up is always an issue with something as big as a CRM because it requires a mindset shift,” he said.
“We’ve got a very diverse workforce working on lots of different projects, and we’re not in a position of having a big call centre where we could say ‘everyone has to do this with everything’, so it’s more about encouraging people to really see the benefits of logging their stakeholder transactions.
“It takes time to identify parts of the business that haven’t yet recognised the full potential of that, but generally the take up has been particularly good for those customer engagement areas like events, and marketing campaigns.”
SV also adopted an agile methodology for the implementation of the new CRM, working in two week sprints as opposed to the traditional waterfall approach of most government organisations.
"That took a while to get used to, but once we actually moved to that model, and people could actually see that their feedback was getting entered into the system on a week-by-week basis, we got a lot of buy-in to that,” said Moon.
The organisation has now embraced 'agile' and has been working under this model for IT upgrades and internal program development since, relying on a new co-design system with relevant partners. Feedback is now provided early in the process, rather than seeking interested parties after it’s complete.
Removing the data centre
Following the successful roll-out of the CRM, SV has continued to pursue further opportunities in the cloud. The shift to cloud services became attractive as altered government funding meant that the challenges of building and maintaining a large on-premise system were too great, Moon said.
SV has now also shifted its email and OneDrive accounts to the cloud, which will be followed by moving all of its SharePoint services. The agency hopes to get rid of its data centre entirely within the next 18-24 months.
“For a government department focusing on sustainability, that is a great achievement, because the data centre uses far and away the most power in our premise,” said Moon.
The foray into cloud services has also greatly eased the strain of ongoing maintenance and upgrades within the organisation too, Moon added. This was evident in the 2016 upgrade to the Dynamics CRM, which became generally available as part of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Spring 2016 update, announced on Monday.
“Having just upgraded the CRM to the 2016 model, this previously would've required us to do a fairly extensive period of onsite work, but instead it’s just been scheduling the upgrade with Microsoft, doing it Friday night and logging in Saturday morning to make sure everything has gone across smoothly, he said.
“For us that is a great benefit and it gives us the enterprise-level features which, as a small government agency, we would never be able to afford using our own on-premise environment.”
The ongoing cloud adoption and IT upgrades also represent the organisation’s contribution to the Victorian Government’s digital strategy, with the goal of making government services more accessible to relevant stakeholders, improving outcomes and eventually making data publically accessible.
“Making our data publicly accessible is part of our long-term plan. Now that we’ve got it in systems we can manage it more easily,” said Moon.
“We’re also not pursuing huge projects that potentially can cost hundreds of millions of dollars; instead we’ve got smaller projects being undertaken with a more agile method, with very small prototyping and then quick iteration.”