Melbourne Business School (MBS) was founded in 1954 through the University of Melbourne, and its graduate degrees have been ranked in the Financial Times’ list of Top 100 Global MBAs since 2005. The school wanted to strategically align its brand positioning message, ‘Global. Business. Leaders.’, to every facet of its business. Its well intentioned but departmental approach to managing data on students (called ‘constituents’) hampered efforts to deliver services and develop relationships to a standard that was commensurate with its brand. In 2007 MBS began a comprehensive process of organisational change. It introduced a customer relationship management (CRM) system based on Microsoft Dynamics® CRM 4.0 and Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007. By introducing a common platform for data management and taking a life-cycle view of constituents, MBS improved communications with applicants, students, participants and alumni and projected a more professional image.
Melbourne Business School (MBS) offered Australia’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1963. The Executive Education arm, which currently has 5,000 participants, was ranked by the UK’s Financial Times as the No. 1 executive educator in Australia and the Asia Pacific in 2008, as well as a global top 40 business education provider. The school has 690 permanent students and 12,000 alumni.
||If you’re spending $50,000 to $100,000 on postgraduate education, you naturally expect a very high level of service and you definitely don’t expect to be mucked around
||Ric Lamont, CIO, Melbourne Business School
MBS took its brand positioning message, ‘Global. Business. Leaders.’ very seriously. In a crowded marketplace, it aimed to stand apart from other business schools in the region by consistently delivering a world-class experience for the people who deal directly with MBS.
However, the school’s disparate approach to data management adversely affected the interaction staff had with applicants, students, participants, employers, alumni, donor and friends of the school – a group identified by MBS as its ‘constituents’. In particular, MBS wanted to improve communications with constituents at all stages in the relationship, from when applications are first lodged to the way the fundraising committee interacts with alumni donors.
“Areas such as Marketing, Admissions, Fundraising, Facilities, IT, Alumni and Student Services maintained and protected their own constituent data on separate systems,” says Ric Lamont, CIO, MBS. “It meant there were tiny pockets of really good data but the vast majority was very out of date. Additionally, information was being diluted as it was transferred, so that it lost its richness, and much of its potential was wasted.”
To present a sleek, businesslike appearance that lived up to its brand message, the school wanted to improve its web presence and unify departments on one data collection platform.
In 2005–6 the IT department unsuccessfully attempted a customer relationship management (CRM) implementation.
“Instead of approaching the introduction of the CRM system as a business improvement and unification project, staff saw it as an IT project and just kept using their entrenched legacy systems,” says Lamont. “By this stage, CRM had become a byword for ‘nasty’. We needed a unified, single data management tool, but to be successful, we had to win over the staff.”
To transform the mindset of staff and ensure that the introduction of a single, unified CRM tool would be successful, the school underwent a comprehensive process of organisational transformation. Microsoft® Certified Gold Partner Oakton assisted MBS in the planning and implementation of the school’s new system, which commenced in January 2008.
“Oakton were chosen because they demonstrated the understanding that this project was three-parts organisational change and two-parts technology,” says Lamont.
To eliminate the ‘silo’ culture and encourage cultural change, MBS banned terms such as ‘CRM’ and indeed ‘technology’, thereby forcing the focus onto the business process changes. Program Unity was the name given to this initiative and it was supported by a new organisation-wide CRM system based on Microsoft Dynamics® CRM 4.0 and Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007. It utilises a Microsoft® SQL Server® 2005 legacy system with Active Directory® and Microsoft® Office 2003.
Each department migrated its existing database onto Unity and all other systems were decommissioned. In addition, workflows built into Unity direct constituents’ profiles from the moment they download a prospectus to when they become an alumni and prospective donor.
The admissions process is controlled through MBS Direct, a web portal devised specifically to act as the external interface of the Unity CRM system. Every detail of a candidate’s application, including their resume, academic transcripts, referees, awards and employment details, is entered into MBS Direct and captured in Unity. Members of the selection committee are emailed a link to each candidate’s application, depending on their category of specialization, for example finance, technology or marketing.
The selector can add and save notes to each applicant’s record in Unity. Once the application has been circulated among the specified selection committee members, it is automatically forwarded to the Associate Dean as a web link for a final check and approval. Lastly, an invitation or rejection letter is automatically generated and emailed to each applicant.
When the applicant accepts their position, another workflow creates an active account in Active Directory. It generates a Microsoft® Office Outlook® account and gives the student access to the Office SharePoint Server 2007–based student portal, which contains pre-reading, information about campus life, online discussion groups and an events calendar.
By successfully transforming its business processes and unifying each department on a single data collection platform, MBS is living up to its brand positioning message. Constituents, from prospective students to alumni, benefit from more efficient, businesslike transactions across each aspect of their relationship with the school.
Improved relationships with constituents
Eliminating the possibility of data duplication has improved the level of service MBS delivers to constituents. By removing the risk of data entry errors or information being lost during the application process, applicant information is smoothly and quickly processed into the school’s records.
“If you’re spending $50,000 to $100,000 on postgraduate education, you naturally expect a very high level of service and you definitely don’t expect to be mucked around,” says Lamont. “Unity now provides us with the ability to be very strategic about the way we interact with constituents. By drawing on a rich data source that includes every transaction we’ve ever had with a constituent, we can improve our interactions, making them more personalised, targeted and meaningful.”
||We’re improving the school’s reputation by developing stronger, more intimate relationships with constituents
||Ric Lamont, CIO, Melbourne Business School
Increased staff satisfaction levels
Manual processes are now automated, resulting in streamlined workflow and improvements in productivity across many departments. The integration of Microsoft Dynamics® CRM with the school’s legacy Microsoft Office 2003 and Outlook platforms increases the ease of administrating courses and constituents.
“There’s been an increase in constituents’ user satisfaction,” says Lamont. “As the Dynamics CRM system becomes more established, these higher levels of satisfaction will translate into increased revenue, through repeat business, word of mouth and general reputation.”
Realised brand position messaging
In MBS’ 2007 annual survey of students and staff, the question of whether MBS provided “the online services of a world-class business school” had an average score of 3/10. Following the successful implementation of MBS Direct in November 2008, the annual survey score for the same question rose to an average of 7.5/10. “We needed to live up to our market positioning in everything we do,” says Lamont. “In order to have the branding, you’ve got to live the branding. Dynamics CRM is now helping us develop lifelong relationships, which is just one of the important pillars in delivering a world-class education for business leaders.”
More effective marketing campaigns
By tracking the frequency and type of marketing communications sent to constituents, the school can reduce the number but increase the quality and sophistication of its marketing campaigns. The Advance Find tools in Microsoft Dynamics® CRM are used by the marketing department to create targeted marketing lists.
“Before Dynamics CRM, departments would all send out separate newsletters and emails to constituents,” says Lamont. “We had no way of tracking which department sent what and our constituents would routinely complain about the email barrage. With Unity we can mitigate this risk and, at the same time, improve the school’s reputation by developing stronger, more intimate relationships with constituents.”
Microsoft Dynamics® is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics® works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics® brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success.
For more information about Microsoft Dynamics®, go to: www.microsoft.com/dynamics
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call 1800 197 960. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com/australia/dynamics/
For more information about Oakton products and services, call 03 9617 0200 or visit the web site at: www.oakton.com.au
For more information about Melbourne Business School products and services, call 1800 00 66 80 or visit the web site at: www.mbs.edu