No compensating on IT

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This article appeared in the 15 September, 2008 issue of CRN magazine.

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Workers’ compensation company, Cambridge Integrated Services, was looking for a new system to improve its ability to track sales leads and better service its existing and future clients.

The company chose to use Microsoft Dynamics 4.0, a CRM application hosted and implemented by Microsoft partner JayThom, to achieve a cost-effective, flexible and time-saving facility.

Founded in the US in 1998, Cambridge Integrated Services is a single purpose company established to manage workers’ compensation. Cambridge provides a broad range of claims services designed to assist injured workers return to a full and productive life as quickly as possible, control workers’ compensation costs and reduce the associated financial risks and exposure.

Clifton Warren, manager business development at Cambridge Australia, said while the company is well established in Australia, it had no systems for following up pipeline opportunities and sales, instead heavily relying on Excel spreadsheets which were not sufficient to deliver on long lead times.

Cambridge wanted a CRM system that would decrease the amount of time spent on
administration, and time wasted on duplicating data.

“Previously, Cambridge’s 250-plus staff were working from spreadsheets and Excel which were cumbersome and too frequently resulted in errors,” he said.

“Our initial problem was that we had no systems in place for following up opportunities and pipeline sales. We needed a system that could help us track leads and improve customer service. I had some background with CRM solutions and quickly identified that we needed a
CRM solution,” Warren said.

However, most vendors did not fit well with Cambridge’s plans. Cambridge looked at CRM solutions from vendors including Seabol, ACT and Goldmine before selecting Dynamics 3.0 in October 2007.

Following this extensive research, Warren came across Microsoft partner JayThom offering a hosted CRM solution that met his requirements: low cost of integration, hosted servers, low training costs, ease of use, ongoing maintenance and low implementation cost.

Having JayThom host Microsoft Dynamics CRM helped Cambridge avoid the installation and maintenance challenges of an in-house system.

With Microsoft’s hosted CRM solution, Cambridge is able to take advantage of sophisticated customer acquisition and retention tools that can help build its business, without a significant, upfront capital investment. Cambridge pays a monthly fee to JayThom to host its new infrastructure, which meant the company did not have to spend a lot of cash upfront to install its own server.

Also, as the solution is hosted, Cambridge was automatically entitled to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 4.0 when it became available last February.
Cambridge staff record a vast amount of data for each case such as contact information, case descriptions and status updates, all previously held in silo systems and duplicated.

Data was also stored on paper and written by hand. Mistakes were frequently made due to misreading scruffy handwritten notes. Documents were often difficult to find, if they could be traced at all.

“With the new system, now all case histories and details are kept in a single, easily accessible place, which avoids duplication, errors and AWOL data,” Warren said.

The integration of Dynamics CRM with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 means Cambridge can easily access information while working in Microsoft applications such as Office Outlook.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 integrates with existing systems to help break down information silos. It harnesses the power of web services through the Microsoft .NET Framework.

This latest generation of technology enables businesses to connect isolated, legacy business systems and applications. Cambridge now has one central repository where its staff can view, access and act on the same data. The integrated structure means anyone can edit saved documents within Microsoft Office Outlook, and some areas of it can be accessed through Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

As the solution is hosted, staff can now access it from anywhere with an Internet connection. JayThom’s hosted Microsoft Dynamics Solution has allowed Cambridge to treat IT more as a service rather than an investment.

Microsoft Dynamics 4.0 also provides Cambridge with room to grow and the opportunity to add more users. “JayThom offered a whole suite of services and a team to support us, and also provided good training,” Warren said.

“What led us to choose this solution was that we could use the legacy Microsoft Office suite and integrate it with the CRM suite using Outlook as the interface. This reduced training time and allowed for a smooth transition and to use the latest technology with existing systems, while making sure the software is up to date.”

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