Norfolk Electrical & Communications (E&C) is a division of Norfolk Group Limited, a building and engineering services provider based in Australia and New Zealand. The division acts as an electrical contractor for on major construction sites, including commercial property, mine site and railway infrastructure projects. With a widely distributed workforce of 1,700, E&C had a number of business units that were using a range of different systems to track their sales opportunities. In August 2008, E&C sought the assistance of DWS Advanced Business Solutions Ltd and implemented a customised system based on Microsoft Dynamics® CRM 4.0. The new system gave management far greater visibility and control over the division’s sales processes and outcomes. In addition, it enabled E&C to gain a better insight into future revenue forecasts and how the division was tracking in relation to its competitors.
Norfolk Group Limited is a leading international provider of integrated building and engineering services. The company is based in Australia and New Zealand, with a presence in India and the United Arab Emirates. The company operates across three divisions – Electrical & Communications (E&C), Mechanical, and Fire & Property Services – and employs approximately 3,500 staff.
|We had no real visibility on our sales pipeline and we were just relying on the data that was passed up in monthly reports.|
| Les Cate, Business Manager, Norfolk Electrical & Communications|
E&C, the largest of the three divisions, carries out the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of electrical and communications systems for major infrastructure projects, including commercial property, mine site and railway infrastructure projects. Around 1,700 people are employed in this division, the majority of whom are electricians. E&C is headquartered in Sydney but has more than 70 business units distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand.
The various business units within the division used different systems to keep track of their sales activities, ranging from basic spreadsheets through to established customer relationship management (CRM) packages. There was no centralised system to effectively manage the overall sales process.
The result was that there was no consistency of approach to pursuing opportunities and the company’s senior management was extremely limited in its ability to monitor sales processes and outcomes.
“We had no real visibility on our sales pipeline and we were just relying on the data that was passed up in monthly reports,” says Les Cate, Business Manager, Norfolk Electrical Communications.
The lack of a consolidated customer database and sales pipeline also meant that the division had an ad hoc approach to assessing the value of pursuing particular projects, while the cost of tendering for each project could reach tens of thousands of dollars.
A particular challenge that E&C faced was the need to deal with multiple bids arising out of one opportunity. For example, in the development of a retail site, the owner might approach three separate contractors and they, in turn, might contact Norfolk to be part of their bid. So, for the opportunity to create the shopping centre, Norfolk might have to bid three times. The existing CRM systems could not accommodate these scenarios, and as result, management did not have the visibility on each of its bids.
In August 2008, DWS Advanced Business Solutions Ltd, a Microsoft Gold Partner, was engaged to implement a division-wide CRM solution. Microsoft Dynamics® CRM 4.0 was selected and the new system went live in December 2008.
One of the key drivers of the decision to implement Dynamics CRM 4.0 was its ability to integrate with other Microsoft applications that were already being used by E&C, such as SharePoint and Outlook.
“That functionality was extremely attractive to the organisation, and also being a major Microsoft user made it attractive from a licensing perspective,” says Brett Reedman, ICT Business Consultant & Program Manager, Norfolk Group Limited.
|We created a system such that even if you had no sales background, you could easily track and manage sales, and without needing additional training.|
| Les Cate, Business Manager, Norfolk Electrical Communications|
Another reason for choosing the Microsoft solution was its inherent flexibility. “I’ve worked on numerous projects and implementations with other CRM systems and it’s Dynamics’ capability to change so quickly that far exceeds anything else I’ve worked with,” says Reedman.
“My initial brief was just to take what was in one of the existing CRM systems and feed that into Dynamics,” he adds. “But the executive sponsor, Les Cate, and some of the other general managers had meetings with Microsoft and we were able to demonstrate that we had the potential to incorporate a lot more capability than Les had originally envisioned.
“So we obviously broadened the scope of what we were doing for the project. We created a system such that even if you had no sales background, you could easily track and manage sales, and without needing additional training.”
The attraction of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 was increased because of the ease of customisation. This flexibility allowed Norfolk employees to influence how the system would work – for example, making it accommodate multiple bids on one end contract.
“We were able to empower the business analysts and internal people at Norfolk to do a lot of the work themselves inside the system,” says George Freney, National Microsoft Alliance Manager, DWS. “So they were able to configure and change parts of the system, which empowered their imaginations and meant that the system was able to be evolved very quickly.”
“What we essentially did was take Microsoft CRM’s quotation module and convert it into a tender module,” says Reedman. “So we used native CRM functionality and we just converted it and tailored it to our needs.” Particularly useful to E&C was the ability to create a customised workflow around opportunity assessment, which enables an opportunity to be assessed against a range of specified criteria to determine whether it is worthwhile pursuing.
“Basically you answer a series of questions, each of which had weightings,” explains Reedman. “Depending on whether you answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a particular question, certain questions further down the line will appear or disappear. Once the opportunity has been evaluated, it will come up with a red, amber or green traffic light.”
Opportunities flagged with a green light are those most likely to be worth pursuing, while those with a red light are considered the least valuable.
The implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 has created a single, consistent approach to the sales process across the whole of Norfolk’s E&C division. This, in turn, has enabled the company to better assess potential opportunities and revise strategies where appropriate. In addition, the ease with which Microsoft Dynamics can be customised has also enabled the division to develop a solution that addresses the issue of having to deal with multiple bids arising from a single opportunity.
Enhanced reporting capabilities
Now that E&C has a consistent approach to sales reporting, the management team has far more control over sales processes and outcomes. “We now have one consolidated customer database and one consolidated sales pipeline where everything gets reported,” says Cate. “That was what we were aiming to achieve.”
This centralisation of reporting is particularly important for Norfolk given the fact that the organisation is so widely geographically dispersed. It has also helped to develop a more sales-oriented culture within the division.
“Engineers often regard sales as something they don’t like to do and this system helps engineers to work like top-rate salespeople,” says Avner Ottensooser, Consultant, DWS.
|At any one point in time, we can see which opportunities are at each stage in the sales process, how long they’ve been there, how long it has taken them to get there, and therefore what sort of a backlog we’ve got.|
| Les Cate, Business Manager, Norfolk Electrical Communications|
A more transparent sales pipeline
The improved reporting capability has also enabled E&C senior management to make better evaluations of potential opportunities and whether to proceed with them.
“This means our staff aren’t wasting time on things that are not going to be productive,” says Cate. “From what information we were able to gather before we introduced Dynamics, we know that we have a rough tender success ratio of about 1:5.5. We are sure that it’s going to improve over time because we are going to have much greater visibility on the opportunities we know are more likely to be successful.”
The new system has also streamlined the approval process. This has been especially critical for the general manager, who is often required to assess around 30 projects per week.
“Whilst the true value of our new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 solution is still to be realised, we are already seeing much greater visibility of our sales pipeline and prospect opportunities,” says Cate. “The integrity of our customer data and of the business intelligence around specific market segment activity is also noticeably more robust. This opens the way for us to make better-informed and more strategically appropriate decisions around our key sales activity.”
Business intelligence gained from this reporting process will be used to forecast revenue and modify strategy as required.
“A key driver was to find out the base information and get it recorded into a system so that we could then develop strategy around our market segments,” says Cate. “Obviously this then ties into our growth strategy.”
The system can also be used to determine whether there are enough prospective sales in the pipeline.
“At any one point in time, we can see which opportunities are at each stage in the sales process, how long they’ve been there, how long it has taken them to get there, and therefore what sort of a backlog we’ve got,” says Cate. “We can then determine whether we need to do some sales and account management work in particular areas to ensure that we do get more work across the line and decrease that backlog.”
Detailed competitor analysis
Microsoft Dynamics can also help E&C systematically do something which it has only been able to do intuitively until now – competitor analysis. As data within the CRM system becomes more comprehensive, E&C will be able to perform detailed analysis of competitors, which will again feed into the company’s growth strategy.
“They are identifying their competitors, and who wins when they are unsuccessful,” says Reedman. “So over a period of time they’re building up a detailed profile of their competitors. They have the capability of doing a SWOT analysis within the CRM system on their competitors, so they will get a very good grounding over time and be able to improve their hit rate.”
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 DWS Advanced Business Solutions Ltd products and services, call (03) 9650 9777 or visit the Web site at:www.dws.com.au
For more information about Norfolk Group Limited products and services, call (02) 9933 1000 or visit the Web site at:www.norfolkgl.com