Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education (Executive Education) is a commercial spin-off of one of the UK’s best-known universities. It uses the facilities and teaching resources of Cambridge University to provide open enrolment and
tailored executive programmes that help to develop the minds of some of today’s leading executives and business leaders. With Microsoft Dynamics, the education provider now has an IT system to match its high-level offerings.
Executive Education has grown rapidly since its foundation in 2006 with a team of just three. It now turns over around £12 million a year has more than 40 staff. Fast growth and an expanding portfolio of programmes placed an increasing burden on its IT systems.
Tim Loynes, Project Manager, Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education, says: “World leaders and successful business executives take part in our programmes, so we have to provide a personalised, top-tier service. Getting the details—such as dietary
preferences—right is important. We couldn’t do this with our existing system because information couldn’t be shared across the organisation. This gave us an incomplete picture, duplicated effort, and ultimately meant that we failed to meet key performance
Loynes wanted an enterprise CRM platform to create and manage Executive Education programmes and keep detailed client data. It had to be linked to the financial system, giving staff access to client and associated budgetary information. A web portal was
also required to automate key administration processes, such as online payment and course registration.
Executive Education assessed leading CRM providers—including Microsoft and Siebel— and event management specialists. As part of the review, it contacted local Microsoft Gold Partner Cambridge Online Systems. “Cambridge Online Systems staff were proactive
and professional. They came to my office on the same afternoon I made the enquiry. I felt reassured because they’re backed by a big brand name with proven technology,” says Loynes.
Cambridge Online Systems worked closely with the education provider to understand its business requirements, extensively interviewing Executive Education staff to get a better understanding of requirements and identify possible barriers to change. It recommended
Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Loynes says: “We’re a young, fast-growing organisation, so flexibility is key. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a modular, scalable product. This makes it cost-effective when compared to offerings from other system
providers, which quoted £100,000 just for the startup project. Microsoft has been a part of our work environment for a long time. Unlike Siebel, there weren’t any large-scale retraining issues.”
Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides staff with detailed client, programme, and attendance records viewable on a single screen. This is important for planning, especially when booking accommodation where hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent annually. This
was an expensive and time-consuming process in the previous system. “Booking hotel rooms is a real issue in Cambridge, where there’s restricted availability. We can’t put our clients in poor-quality accommodation,” says Loynes. Cambridge Online Systems helped
to create a centralised database, while at the same time undertaking extensive data cleansing. This was an involved process because staff in many cases had created their own Excel databases. The move to the CRM system required a culture change.
Migrating the custom team—responsible for finding new clients—to the CRM system was a big challenge. Loynes says: “We had to be patient with the sales people and there was also the important matter of better governance. For instance, the business development
fund is a significant part of the client acquisition process. We needed to define opportunities to allocate budgets more clearly, judge risk better, and put more effective forecasting in place.” High on the organisation’s priority list was launching a web
portal for alumni to self-register for open programmes. The old administration and contact records system was inflexible and outdated. Attendees are now responsible for updating their own contact records, so client records are kept current with minimal administration.
In addition, programme payments can be processed automatically online.
Executive Education now has the IT infrastructure to match its high-level aspirations. Before deploying Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, client interaction and programme registration was inefficient. Today, the CRM process is a big improvement
and provides its high-level achievers with the quality service they expect. Loynes says: “The client liaison experience is much faster and more efficient now.”
True integration. The organisation’s previous processes were time consuming and duplicated effort. And, critically, there was limited understanding about meeting inter-departmental targets.
“Thanks to Microsoft Dynamics, we now have a 360-degree view of all critical administrative and financial data, which is fully accessible and up-to-the-minute,” says Loynes.
Improved budget control.
Executive Education oversees a £1 million hotel accommodation budget annually. Formerly, there was no up-to-date, complete picture of where this money was being spent or how much was potentially lost. With an integrated CRM and financial system, the
organisation can allocate budgets more effectively, mitigating risk and helping planning.
Better accountability. Programme managers can allocate and utilise budgets for programmes with ease. They can put together a budget, define it by finance code, and link it through to suppliers. Loynes says:
“Budgets now match because they sit in both finance and CRM systems at the same time. This has made finance a visible process.”
Greater transparency. It’s now easier to measure the sales pipeline accurately and there’s greater transparency within task management. Despite the rapid growth of the education provider, month-end reporting can be achieved
in hours, rather than days.
Client interaction. The previous system was inefficient because attendees often had to be chased for information or payment. The new portal has transformed the way alumni apply for open
programmes. The self-service process ensures that applicants are responsible for inputting their own records and keeping them up to date.
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