The University of Bolton has been providing companies with help and support for more than 50 years. In 2007 the Business Support and Development Unit (BSDU) was formed offering a unique brand of bespoke programmes for companies.

The University is unrelenting in its desire to stay abreast of commercial, social, cultural and economic change and incorporate its impact in its courses and work with partners. In 2009, in line with this ethos, the BSDU commissioned a project to improve the effectiveness and transparency with regard to the way it managed relationships and engagement with current and potential business customers.

Luke Stansfield, Information Systems Developer at the University, explained. “We had no real system to manage relationships and interactions with our customers and business contacts. This was identified as a real risk which could potentially damage the excellent business relationships we had developed. We knew that if we could improve the effectiveness of our Continuing Professional Development marketing campaigns, these could provide a valuable source of additional income. We also wanted to effectively manage the diversity of relationships between individual companies and different parts of our organisation.”

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CRM platform to fit existing processes

It was recognised that a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution would provide the required platform and after looking at a number of options the University decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “It was the logical choice for us”, said Luke. “We are predominantly a Microsoft-based institution and unlike some of the alternatives it offered out-of-the-box installation with the capability to customise it to fit our processes. It also enabled us to complete the project within budget.”

Recognised for its category-leading capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps to increase productivity and create a connected organisation that is equipped to please customers. It provides a powerful set of CRM capabilities within the familiar Microsoft Outlook application, helping to reduce learning time and leverage existing investment on Microsoft Office.

“Once we had decided on the application, we needed to find a partner to help us implement it”, continued Luke. “So we invited three companies to tender and eventually chose Collabco.” Collabco is a specialist Microsoft Partner focused on SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Lync, UAG and mobility. They deliver a complete portfolio of services including: technology consultancy, IT strategy consultancy, development, project implementation, support and training.

“We chose Collabco mainly because of their approach”, said Luke. “They offered to develop the platform with us, which gave us the opportunity to build a solution around our refined business processes”

Maximising cross selling

Collabco consultants initially carried out a functional requirements analysis. This identified a number of issues with regard to the non-sharing and collation of information and the need to centrally monitor responses to enquiries for BSDU services.

A key part of the new solution was to enable academic staff within all schools to add and maintain their contacts and interactions with external businesses in a central CRM database. This would enable monitoring of the response to enquiries and highlight and escalate those that were not being dealt with within an acceptable timeframe. It would also facilitate the cross-selling of services to existing and past customers and allow for the effective management of marketing campaigns to ensure response was maximised.

With these requirements established Collabco were able to work closely with key University staff to produce a detailed functional requirement that covered: BSDU, marketing, data migration, security, integration and reporting. This then facilitated a gap/fit analysis together with a comprehensive gap resolution list as the basis for the design of the new CRM solution.

Managing contacts across the university

After implementing a pilot, the full solution went live in Mar 2011 and since then the University has continually increased the use of the new platform. “We have so far run a number of successful marketing campaigns utilising it”, said Luke. “It has proved its worth and more people within the University are now beginning to see the benefits it can bring.”

Importantly, the solution will eventually be used to manage contacts across the entire University, something that was identified as an issue at the outset of the project. This centralised approach will help to monitor the response to an enquiry, regardless of which department within the University handles it. It will also move the University towards their desired endpoint of having a more efficient and responsive marketing function that maximises the selling of its services to customers and prospects.

Platform for the future

“We have developed a strong working relationship with Collabco”, concluded Luke. “They took the time at the outset of the project to understand the way that we worked and how we wanted to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This gave us the confidence that the final solution would meet our needs, rather than us having to change to meet the software’s functionality.

“I was impressed with their attitude and professionalism during the actual implementation. On a number of occasions they worked out-of-hours to ensure that project deadlines were met and we came in on time and within budget. I feel confident that with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Collabco we have the right solution and partner to enable us to achieve our aims both now and into the near future.”

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About Collabco:
Collabco is a specialist Microsoft Partner focused on SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Lync, UAG and mobility. They deliver a complete portfolio of services including: technology consultancy, IT strategy consultancy, development, project implementation, support and training.