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Tapping technology in troubled times

How IT can help businesses survive—even thrive—in a down economy

What began as seemingly isolated showers in business markets has evolved to an economic storm that some experts predict will bring on a lengthy recession. In response, businesses worldwide are tightening budgets, cutting costs, and changing direction to weather the storm.

But where should you cut, and where should you invest to safely pilot your company through these tumultuous economic waters?

Don't shortchange strategic IT investments

The crisis is creating new challenges for corporate officers and other business decision makers. The knee-jerk reaction to cut spending across the board, however, can be counterproductive when it comes to reducing risks during economic slumps. Instead, strategic investments in specific areas can actually cut costs as they improve operational efficiencies, personal performance, and customer service.

In addition, according to a recent McGraw-Hill study, companies that continue strategic spending not only outperformed nonspenders during a recession, but also experienced revenue growth of 275 percent during the first full year of recovery.

Evaluate ERP and CRM solutions

Business information technologies are a perfect example of IT investments that you can turn to for resilience during economic hard times. With careful selection and experienced implementation, solutions for enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) can help a company move ahead in economic hard times by:

  • Controlling costs and reducing expenses

  • Improving efficiency and performance

  • Strengthening customer service, value, and loyalty

  • Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) to stay both on course and agile

“We were able to trim down a lot of the staff time the accounting department needed to process month-end closing. We were able to go from three people in three weeks to one person in three days [to complete month-end closing], and that was almost an immediate benefit moving to the system.”

Kevin Sayre
Chief Information Officer,
AllChem Industries

Here are several examples of how ERP and CRM business solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics can help you meet these goals:

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

  • Maintain tight control of your finances and manage them with a high level of efficiency and accuracy.

  • Make complete, up-to-the-minute financial information and reports easily accessible to anybody who needs them to perform business planning and achieve regulatory compliance.

  • Simplify and automate routine and repetitious functions, so your employees can focus on more-important tasks to drive your business forward.

  • Increase efficiencies in distribution to improve customer satisfaction and reduce the cost of doing business.

  • Offer sophisticated communicative, collaborative, and self-service capabilities to make it easy and compelling for other companies to do business with you.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

  • Maintain close contact with your customers and prospects to strengthen satisfaction and loyalty during downturns.

    Retain and win more customers and market share even during difficult economic times.

  • Centralize customer information for easy, reliable access to maximize your people's time.

  • Help your people recognize individual customer preferences and overall trends to seize more sales opportunities.

  • Provide automated and self-service options to customers to reduce costs and increase response times.

  • Identify your best customers so you can target efforts to them.

  • Discover emerging customer needs and respond to them before competitors do.

  • Better manage sales and marketing initiatives and track their results to optimize marketing spending.

  • Automate and streamline workflows to increase agent productivity and efficiency.

  • Improve efficiency of field services with online tools.

Why choose Microsoft Dynamics for ERP and CRM?

  • It's familiar to your people. It looks the same and works the same as other Microsoft products, including Microsoft Office, so it's familiar to many people, ensuring faster adoption, reducing training time, and accelerating return on investment (ROI).

  • Its role-tailored user experience enables your people to easily perform tasks and access information relevant to them.

  • It offers workflows to eliminate manual, inefficient processes.

“Microsoft Dynamics CRM is faster and more reliable, so our agents can solve customer problems in 30 percent less time than it took with NetSuite CRM.”

Jeff Hislop
CIO,
Service Repair Solutions

Take advantage of low-cost financing to stretch your budget

You can lower the upfront costs of IT investments and other long-term business assets by taking advantage of low-cost financing on purchase and licensing.

"Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions are business assets that pay off in the near term and over the long haul by helping companies drive productivity, maximize efficiency, and adapt and grow their business in today's fast-changing market," says Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions.

Leverage service plans and partner expertise

Whether you are looking to invest in new ERP or CRM solutions, or you already have ERP and/or CRM systems in place, make sure you're aware of services available to you. If your company is already using Microsoft Dynamics, encourage employees to use CustomerSource often and discuss your current service plan with your Microsoft partner to ensure your people are optimizing your Microsoft Dynamics solution.

You can also talk to your solution provider about any advantages you might gain by upgrading to a newer release, purchasing additional user or site licenses to address new business requirements, or expanding the product's footprint and/or replacing applications. If you need help finding a local Microsoft partner, contact us.

If you invest in or already use Microsoft Dynamics, you can choose from a variety of support and service options and select the plan that best fits your business needs. Combine this with the services provided by your local Microsoft partner, and you'll have a winning combination to give your staff what they need to use their software to its full potential. Get an overview of Microsoft Dynamics support and service options.

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