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Posted: 3/18/2013
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NCFE Learning Organisation Streamlines Processes with Integrated IT Solutions

NCFE designs, develops, and certificates nationally recognised qualifications and awards for learners. As an Awarding Organisation, NCFE works with more than 2,000 further education colleges, training providers, and schools. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics NAV, it has integrated its IT systems and streamlined processes, leading to better performance monitoring and more effective marketing.

Business Needs

In the past, NCFE had several business management systems in use, many of which were outdated. This was expensive to manage and the IT team struggled to maintain the wide variety of skills needed to support these different technologies.

Customer information was managed using standalone software, and NCFE wanted to bring all of its systems together to work with them in a modular way. Christine Furminger, Project Manager at NCFE, says: “We just wanted one version of the truth, on a single system that we could develop quickly. One place where we could see everything—simple and straightforward.”


NCFE chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM and worked with a supplier to develop the initial system. It then empowered a group of internal super-users to customise the solution for individual teams. “This helped us with user adoption because it meant people were getting the system they wanted rather than one that we’d imposed on them,” says Furminger.

At a later stage, NCFE added several customer relationship management (CRM) modules and replaced its finance system with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Both systems were integrated, together with Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client, to create a seamless user experience.


NCFE found that its new system not only saved time and cut costs, but also helped staff do their jobs more efficiently. Being able to view everything in one place means fewer reports and spreadsheets, and more time saved. Rory McKeand, Project Lead at NCFE, says: “We were able to remove more than 100 spreadsheets on just one project.”

Improved case management. NCFE can now deal efficiently with most of its activities by wrapping them up as “cases” within the CRM system. And because further education is a highly competitive market, good customer service is important. The resulting 360-degree view of everything that’s going on with a particular customer means that NCFE teams serve customers faster, know what’s going on when and where, and can solve problems quickly. Furminger says: “We’ve introduced five different case types: queries, compliments, complaints, centre [customer] issues, and internal issues—and we record activities against these types. So when we look at a customer’s account, we look at the cases rather than the hundreds of activities. This is great for seeing the status of any customer at a glance.”

More powerful dashboards. Each team and each user now has its own dashboard to work on. This helps the sales team identify its pipelines and work on leads and opportunities. It gives them a picture of where things stand across the organisation. “We’ve got better live visibility of management activity and opportunities than in the past. This is really useful for our Business Development Team—and reports are generated automatically,” says McKeand. The Business Development Team calculates that it now saves two days each month when creating activity reports.

Better performance monitoring. More transparent sales and marketing activity has changed the way managers conduct their performance reviews. Everything’s now more visible, meaning that significant savings have been made in the time spent on assessment. McKeand says: “It’s better for everyone with everything out in the open – it makes for more honest reporting and assessment.”

Streamlined financial processes. With Microsoft Dynamics NAV replacing its Sage 200 software, NCFE now has fewer administrative tasks to carry out and has more powerful reporting. Its accountants estimate they’ve not only saved one-and-a-half days a month on reporting, but they’re also getting better, more incisive reports. Credit control is better too, because the accounts team can now efficiently manage credit control through Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which improves cash flow.

Better management reports. With more comprehensive reporting in place, management teams are now able to learn more about NCFE customers. They can get greater insights on important topics such as why customers are calling in and refine any internal activities or processes accordingly. “Thanks to better reporting, we can capture certain call drivers and make an instant fix, such as updating information on our website,” says Furminger.

More effective marketing. The marketing team uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create more accurate lists and run efficient e-marketing campaigns. Sending e-newsletters and emails about products is now significantly easier. And with tracking in place, the Business Development Team automatically knows to follow up on leads where customers have shown an interest. Training and marketing events management has also improved significantly. McKeand says: “We can now rate our venues, see which ones work best for us, who’s attended, and what the profit or loss is on any particular event activity.”

Easy customisation. NCFE super-users are able to enhance the new system themselves and this makes for a happier and more rewarding working environment, where control and ownership is with the people using the solution. “As Project Manager, I feel proud of what we’re doing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and how we’re able to better shape our organisation,” says Furminger. “We’re excited about our future developments, with CRM as our main force.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 170 employees

Organization Profile

NCFE is a national Awarding Organisation and a registered educational charity, which has existed for more than 150 years. With 170 staff, 150 external contractors, and around 750,000 learner registrations, the organisation’s turnover in 2012 was £19 million (U.S.$29 million).

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Vertical Industries
Legislative Bodies

United Kingdom