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Posted: 11/20/2009
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Plante & Moran Accounting Firm Boosts Productivity Through Rapid Adoption of Easy-to-Use CRM Solution

To drive continued growth, Plante Moran, a leading U.S.–based financial services firm, needed to automate business development efforts. The company sought to replace its IBM Lotus Notes contact management system with an easy-to-use customer relationship management system built on a flexible, scalable platform. After evaluating a number of packaged solutions, Plante Moran chose Microsoft Dynamics® CRM based on its intuitive interface, powerful built-in toolset, and integration with line-of-business systems and productivity applications. Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Ascentium helped Plante Moran tailor the solution to automate key business functions, such as its client acceptance process. Since deploying the solution to 1,600 consultants, Plante Moran has strengthened its business development efforts and gained the agility to pursue strategic growth initiatives.

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* By taking advantage of workflows in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage key business activities, like notifying our managing partner of key new client wins, we can better track our success and recognize the teams that worked so hard to make the success possible. *

Jeffrey Antaya, Chief Marketing Officer, Plante Moran
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Business Needs

With 1,600 consultants and annual revenue of around U.S.$260 million, Plante Moran is the 12th-largest accounting firm in the United States. The Southfield, Michigan–based company has 19 offices and serves clients throughout the United States and around the globe. In addition to its locations in the United States, Plante Moran has offices in Shanghai, China; Mumbai, India; and Monterrey, Mexico.

Plante Moran used an application based on IBM Lotus Notes to manage client contact records and track its sales pipeline. However, client contact and sales data were stored in separate databases. Moreover, the system lacked a unified, easy-to-use interface for accessing these different functionalities. Plante Moran’s consultants could not quickly or easily merge data stored in a variety of formats in the Lotus Notes–based system with the applications they rely on each day, such as Microsoft® Office Excel®.
 
“Because our old system wasn’t easy to use and didn’t support the way our people work, adoption was extremely low,” says Jeffrey Antaya, Chief Marketing Officer at Plante Moran. “So, it was difficult for us to track and measure the effectiveness of companywide business development efforts. We realized that it was time to find a new customer relationship management system that all of our people would be excited to use.”

Solution

In conjunction with a firmwide move to the Microsoft platform, Plante Moran reviewed several customer relationship management solutions. The company opted to implement Microsoft Dynamics® CRM based on its ease of use and integration with core line-of-business systems and desktop productivity tools. Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Ascentium helped Plante Moran deploy the solution across its entire operations.

Integration with Line-of-Business Systems and Productivity Applications
The Ascentium team worked with Plante Moran to link its billing system to the database in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Employees now have access to service history within each client’s record. This lets consultants quickly determine which additional or related services might benefit clients. “The integration between our billing system and customer relationship management systems means we can efficiently mine our own data to gain intelligence around what new services a client may want or what types of services are most appropriate for various client profiles,” says Antaya.

In addition, consultants take full advantage of the seamless integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and applications in the Microsoft Office system, including Office Excel and Microsoft Office Outlook®. Says Antaya, “Our people love the fact that they can work in their e-mail program or in a spreadsheet without needing to open another module or switch programs to view client information.”

New Business Pipeline and Referral Source Management
With help from Ascentium, Plante Moran tailored lead qualification functionality in the solution to align with its own unique three-step sales execution process. The company now uses an automated workflow that alerts partners and consultants of required tasks at each stage of the account development process. The company also tailored the solution to launch its client acceptance process and to track and analyze referrals from banks, law firms, and other key sources. This gives partners greater visibility into which relationships are helping the firm grow and lets them track referrals extended to clients and other contacts. 
 
Centralized System for Managing Multiple Client Touchpoints
Plante Moran creates and manages up to five distinct direct-mail campaigns a month. Because all client and prospect data is stored in a single, centralized database, people throughout the firm can quickly see whether a client or prospect has already received correspondence from the company, such as a notice of an upcoming event, firm brochure, or technical bulletin.

Plante_Moran’s_corporate_headquarters_in_Southfield,_Michigan.
Plante Moran’s corporate headquarters in Southfield, Michigan.

By using the Advanced Find function in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, staff members are able to analyze their marketing lists to strengthen their personalized outreach efforts. In addition, to improve the effectiveness of its practice development efforts, Plante Moran has tailored the solution to improve tracking of partner and staff contacts. With 1,600 consultants, the company has found it extremely difficult to manage contacts and identify interrelationships among these contacts, especially when relationships span geography and time zones. This function helps staff and partners determine if existing connections can further business development efforts—a key competitive advantage for the firm.

Benefits

At Plante Moran, all partners and staff across the firm use Microsoft Dynamics CRM each day to seamlessly share leads with colleagues, manage client activities, and identify opportunities for additional services to existing clients. Since deploying the solution, the company has strengthened its business development efforts, boosted productivity, and enhanced service delivery to clients.

Increased Productivity
By using automated workflows, Plante Moran has eliminated its reliance on paper-based processes for many of its core business functions, including lead qualification and sales pipeline management. “By taking advantage of workflows in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage key business activities, like notifying our managing partner of key new client wins, we can better track our success  and recognize the teams that worked so hard to make the success possible,” says Antaya.

Greater Business Agility
With operations standardized on the Microsoft platform, Plante Moran expects to gain increased business agility, enabling the company to pursue exciting new projects. For example, the company plans to connect Microsoft Dynamics CRM to its main Web site to track and respond to requests for information around specific topics. Says Antaya, “Plante Moran is about helping clients find the services that address their needs, and this will open up another way that we can connect with potential clients to help them solve the challenges they face.”


Additional Resourceswww.microsoft.com/video/en/us/details/40e82087-d9c5-4cc4-927a-7b2cec0fb14f
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Solution Overview



Organization Size: 1600 employees

Organization Profile

Founded in 1924, Plante Moran is a full-service public accounting and consulting firm offering more than 70 distinct services to its clients. In 2008, Forbes Magazine recognized the company as one of America’s Best Places to Work.


Hardware


Third Party Software


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Vertical Industries
Accounting & Consulting

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

IT Issue
  • Document and Records Management
  • Personal Productivity

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Ascentium Corporation

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