Mainstream Renewable Power designs and operates renewable energy installations around the world. This comes with significant enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) challenges—from stakeholder management
to regulatory compliance—and involves a global network of partners. Mainstream addresses these challenges with an integrated set of Microsoft products, including Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Dublin-based Mainstream operates from 12 offices in eight countries and specialises in large-scale wind and solar energy projects. Mainstream Chief Information Officer John Shaw, cites Smart Wind—a 4,000-megawatt wind farm off the Yorkshire coast, developed
in partnership with Siemens Project Ventures—as a good example of the ERP and CRM challenges faced by the company.
When it comes to ERP, for instance, each of the company’s projects—underway
on four continents—must operate as its own legal entity. People work across multiple projects, but costs and revenues are unique to the legal entity in question—yet also need to be factored into a single Mainstream chart of accounts. From a CRM perspective,
there are extensive stakeholder relationships to manage.
Partners, regulators, landowners, and utilities are among the host of parties that must be consulted about the presence of offshore wind farms in busy coastal waters. Inevitably, too, Mainstream makes extensive use of subcontractors and third-party specialists.
“In fact, the number of actual customers is quite small—it’s basically those companies that buy a completed renewable energy installation from us, when it has been built and commissioned,” says Shaw. “But the challenge of stakeholder relationship management
is very real, and in such a highly regulated industry, it’s vital to deliver CRM comprehensively.”
Microsoft was the obvious front-runner when Mainstream—founded as a startup in 2008—was deciding its overall IT strategy. It quickly chose to deploy Microsoft Dynamics AX as the firm’s ERP system and Microsoft SharePoint as a collaboration and document management
tool—both of which were fully operational by mid-2009.
With its built-in links to Microsoft Project and Microsoft Outlook, SharePoint provided an ideal way to keep project teams in touch with each other as the business grew worldwide.
Next, in 2012, Mainstream deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM to help it deal with the challenge of increasingly large and complex projects with numerous stakeholders. The firm needed a full audit trail of consultations, permissions, lease agreements, and other
project documentation—all safely recorded and stored.
“Although we use 33 Microsoft products, the core pillars are Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft SharePoint,” says Shaw. “Microsoft technology underpins everything we do—from project management to paying the bills.”
And the role played by eBECS has been critical. “eBECS fully understood what we needed to do. It has played a leading role in enabling our business growth,” says Shaw.
With Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM at the core of its environment—along with other Microsoft technologies including Microsoft SharePoint—Mainstream has an IT infrastructure that will grow as the company expands. The firm already plans
to move to the cloud and extend its use of Microsoft Dynamics.
A future-proof strategy. “With Microsoft technologies, Mainstream was able to quickly grow from a small startup into a multinational business. And we’ve done this while retaining the same core set of applications with the certainty that
we have a future-proof IT strategy,” says Shaw.
Cutting-edge technology. What’s more, Shaw points out how each pillar of the Mainstream enterprise architecture has made full use of powerful niche capabilities not always found in competing solutions. From the document management functionality
of Microsoft SharePoint, to the ability of Microsoft Dynamics AX to handle multiple legal entities, Microsoft technology underpins almost every aspect of the firm’s operations.
Roadmap for future growth. The Microsoft technology roadmap and extensive investments in new capabilities are already helping to drive growth at Mainstream. “The coming year will see us moving our Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics
CRM functionality to the cloud, and upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012,” says Shaw. “We also plan to fully evaluate the project accounting module, and earned value analysis functionality in Microsoft Dynamics AX.”
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