IT Services Firm Equips Employees with Easy-to-Use CRM Tool, Supporting Growth
IT services company Infuse Consulting has experienced 600 per cent year-on-year growth since 2002. With people and back-office systems stretched to the limit by rapid expansion, the firm selected Microsoft Partner Zero2Ten to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Assistance PSA for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Infuse now has complete confidence in sales reporting and the sales, marketing, and invoicing tools to support its ambitions.
In common with many small businesses, the growth experienced by Infuse had created a number of challenges for its Managing Director. Tools that had been adequate for a team of two people were proving ineffective by the time that team had expanded to 27.
Nalin Parbhu, Managing Director, Infuse Consulting, says: “Trying to manage our growth has been a challenge. We didn’t have a scalable model. Much of it was in my head—I was the single point of failure.”
Infuse was using Sage ACT for customer relationship management (CRM). And while it was a practical tool, it didn’t provide the detailed pipeline information Parbhu needed. In addition, he was spending too much time administering the system. “A big problem I had was the way you had to set it up on a laptop. I was the administrator and had to connect to our virtual private network to sync the data—it was fine as a one-man business, but with a growing sales team it was an unnecessary burden on my time,” he says.
Invoicing was equally challenging. Infuse had moved from a simple time and materials (T&M) billing model to a combination of fixed price and T&M contracts. The company had also gone from issuing one or two invoices a month with three or four employees submitting timesheets, to 27 employees submitting timesheets and a corresponding increase in invoices being processed. Parbhu says: “My Finance Director found the invoice system particularly frustrating. It was all on a spreadsheet, but it was out of control. I was the only one who could work out the commission structure. Billing and paying expenses were both extremely time-consuming tasks. The situation was far from ideal, and it was even affecting growth. We couldn’t build a business like this—we needed systems that would give us the room and information to grow.”
Wanting to act fast, Infuse engaged Microsoft Partner Zero2Ten to install Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Assistance PSA, a professional services automation (PSA) module that integrates with Microsoft Dynamics. This provides professional services functionality, including contract and project management, resource planning, timesheet and expense management, and invoicing.
Parbhu had evaluated a number of CRM and PSA applications—including Sage, Force.com, and Kimble—but was particularly impressed by Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. He says: “The two things that really worked for me were the tight integration with Microsoft Outlook and the fact that it was web-based and would always be available and up to date.”
Infuse opted for the Zero2Ten SmartStart implementation, a virtual implementation of a pre-configured instance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, to cut the time it would take to go live with a working solution. Parbhu says: “We needed just one piece of configuration. We went live in just four weeks, including integration with the PSA solution and Quickbooks, our accounting software. If Christmas hadn’t fallen in the middle, it would have taken just two weeks.”
The integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Outlook means that Infuse sales people can access the CRM system from their email accounts, rather than having to open a separate system. They can use the same calendar and synchronise their contacts.
Infuse is using PSA to create project proposals as well as for managing timesheets and invoices. Parbhu also has plans to add Microsoft SharePoint Online to the integrated solution—to provide additional functionality and make it available wherever his employees happen to be.
Infuse now has an easy-to-use CRM system that supports the needs of a fast-growing services business. It has better visibility of the sales pipeline and Parbhu is confident that he can achieve his 400 per cent growth target.
Pipeline visibility. Infuse has to track and report on leads from partners to ensure continued investment. It also uses an outsource partner to run a sales campaign. Parbhu says: “It was giving us a spreadsheet, but it wasn’t very useful. Now, we put it into the CRM system and I can see the pipeline. I can remove conjecture and see actual results.”
Reduced cost. Parbhu says: “We’re paying around £100 a month for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, whereas Sage ACT was costing us £160 a month. What’s more, I was spending 10 per cent of my time supporting ACT. That’s an opportunity cost of between £20,000 and £200,000 a year. The business case is very simple—I got payback in the first hour I switched to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.”
Ease of use. The sales team has found the CRM tool simple to use. Parbhu says: “Now they’re working in Microsoft Outlook, they’re completely at home with CRM. It’s a much better tool, and they’re actually using it.” Parbhu also benefits from Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the cloud. He says: “They can update it in real time and I can get an instant snapshot view.”
Efficient sales process. Technical Account Directors can now close renewal business themselves, leaving the sales team to concentrate on new business. Parbhu says: “If they’re focusing on renewals, they want to be paid twice and they’re not bringing in new customers.” Sales people are also less reliant on the technical team for winning new business. Parbhu says: “They create their own proposals in a few clicks of a button. They no longer need to involve the technical team, which is saving time and cutting costs.”