Economic Development Agency Opens for Business After Transformation

The state of Indiana and its economic development corporation have undertaken massive transformations that make the state more economically viable and improve responsiveness, accountability, and efficiency. Bucking downturn trends, the state is attracting new business and jobs. To achieve these results, the state improved collaboration and data access and automated processes by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, enabling economic development staff to spend more time strengthening existing business relationships and pursuing prospective companies.

*With the business process transformation and Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation, IEDC doubled per-employee productivity and total deal flow while reducing the agency’s annual budget allocation from $60 million to $40 million.*

Chad Pittman
Executive Vice President

To continue to provide vital services despite budget shortfalls, many state and local agencies have been forced to reinvent themselves. Among the more innovative in this category, the state of Indiana is gaining accolades for its fiscal turnaround and job growth despite tepid global economic conditions.

Starting in the mid-2000s, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels led efforts that turned a U.S.$800 million deficit into a $1.2 billion surplus and reduced the state’s overall debt by 40 percent—without raising taxes. To further strengthen the state’s economic well-being, government leaders wanted to attract even more business and jobs to Indiana. These leaders believed that the best way to be more welcoming to business was to function and relate as a business.

With the goal of optimizing responsiveness, transparency, and results, state leaders replaced the Indiana Department of Commerce with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), a public/private partnership, in early 2005. The change is working; a recent survey by Chief Executive Magazine ranked Indiana fifth on its list of best states in which to do business, a jump of 11 positions since 2009. Browse headlines on itswebsite or in its online media center and you’ll see that IEDC continues to rack up impressive results and awards. More importantly, it is winning the hearts and minds of business leaders, who are signing up to pour investment and jobs into the Hoosier State.

Setting the Vision

Economic development agencies fill a unique role, with relationships that reach across organizations in the private and public sectors and a wide range of stakeholders. In addition to being good stewards of taxpayer funds, IEDC’s leaders wanted their corporation to shorten its response time to businesses and other stakeholders, improve outreach and competitive effectiveness, streamline recruitment and negotiation, and improve information sharing and collaboration internally and with external stakeholders.

However, before it could hang out its “Open for Business” sign, IEDC needed to align business processes and information systems that had become fragmented along organizational boundaries. In addition, the handoffs at each stage of the economic development effort involved high-touch manual steps and data entry. Staffers were absorbed in these workarounds, which often resulted in incomplete data, which in turn stifled outreach efforts. These issues prevented leaders from gaining a set of organization-wide benchmarks and tended to inflate administrative overhead. To align the organization with its goals and vision, IEDC leaders knew that changes would need to be extensive and innovative.

Chad Pittman, Executive Vice President at IEDC, who laid out the vision and priorities, says, ”We could spend a lot of money on marketing campaigns trying to convince companies that we are an innovative state. But why not just invest in being innovative?”

The State of Indiana: Open for Business

*We could spend a lot of money on marketing campaigns trying to convince companies that we are an innovative state. But why not just invest in being innovative?*

Chad Pittman
Executive Vice President

As its first step toward innovation, IEDC undertook a business process and technology transformation project. The resulting technology solution, based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft SharePoint, delivers a single, unified system and information repository that the IEDC can rely on to streamline its business. The corporation handles core business functions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, including business development, marketing, incentive management, audit, and legal compliance.

As part of the project, IEDC digitized its existing document management system based on Microsoft SharePoint. Document management is now integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so users can access all the contracts and other records for a given contact in one place.

Stakeholders, such as prospective and existing clients and partners, can interact with IEDC through a customer-facing web portal that connects with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Through the portal they can, for example, request information, apply for incentives, or look up historical records of their reporting and incentive agreements, all based on data stored in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Decision Factors

For IEDC, Microsoft Dynamics CRM offered the right mix of reliability, flexibility, customizability, and price. IEDC considered popular CRM software including Salesforce, SugarCRM, Sage SalesLogix, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, performing a feature-benefit comparison.

Ultimately, they selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the following reasons:

  • Core customer relationship management (CRM) functionality combined with ease of configuration.

  • Familiarity and ease of use.

  • Flexibility and fit with existing software that Indiana state agencies use and support.


IEDC continues to help Indiana rack up impressive economic growth results. The corporation improved collaboration and communication and streamlined operations by relying on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “We delivered some pretty dramatic results with Microsoft Dynamics CRM because it is such a comprehensive tool that affects every area of what we do daily,” says Tom Skidmore, CFO of IEDC. To continue to build on its success, the IEDC plans to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in December 2012.

Greater Efficiency and Better Stewardship of Public Funds

By consolidating information management and automating processes with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, IEDC has improved efficiency and productivity. Pittman explains, “With the business process transformation and Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation, IEDC doubled per-employee productivity and total deal flow while reducing the agency’s annual budget allocation from $60 million to $40 million.”

In 2012, IEDC announced a record number of deals (256) completed for the year. The 256 companies anticipate investing $6.4 billion in their Indiana operations and creating approximately 27,620 new jobs in the coming years.

Equally impressive, the number of deals per employee has significantly improved over the last few years. "Despite having a lower headcount, we're completing a significantly higher number of transactions and attracting more jobs and more investment to the state,” Skidmore says. “Had we not made this transition to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we would have never been able to achieve these kinds of results, and costs for overhead would have stayed significantly higher than they are now."

Greater efficiency and productivity has resulted in better use of public funds. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM helped us streamline operations across the board, enabling us to better safeguard taxpayer dollars,” says Pittman.

Further examples of better productivity and efficiency at IEDC include:

  • Data gathering and analysis for annual report that once required a few weeks to prepare can now be done in under an hour.

  • Writing contracts used to require about an hour each, and IEDC writes several hundred per year.

  • Automated reports vastly streamline reporting, and workflows help move projects through the lifecycle.

  • Built-in “advanced find” queries in Microsoft Dynamics CRM help IEDC quickly uncover important information and efficiently respond to inquiries.

  • Annual certification processing was once labor-intensive but by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, IEDC finishes certifications in less than half the time.

  • By using Microsoft SharePoint, IEDC has essentially gone completely digital. By accessing files digitally through Microsoft Dynamics CRM, IEDC can serve clients quickly, reduce paper and storage costs, and help the environment.

A Dynamic Solution for a Dynamic Business Environment

The environment that IEDC functions in is truly dynamic. As political regimes rise and fall, and programs, business climate, and information needs change, Microsoft Dynamics CRM empowers the economic development corporation to remain flexible and keep in step with the change: in short, to function as a truly dynamic business.

Garth Brazelton, Director of Operations and Business Systems at IEDC, posits, “Flexibility is extremely important in the public sector, perhaps even more so than for private corporations. We need our information management technologies to have the adaptability that Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides.”

Productivity That Leads to New Proficiency

No longer required to spend extensive time manually gathering, de-duplicating, and mining data, employees at IEDC can contribute to IEDC’s mission in more valuable ways. Pittman remarks, “We’re doing more analyzing, creative thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.”

As an example, Kim Roderer, Manager, Business Development, used to spend 8 hours per week preparing a weekly sales pipeline report. Now, she can produce and review this sales report in 20 minutes or less. “One thing I’ve done with the extra time is build a site-selection database to help companies find land in Indiana,” says Roderer. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM has enabled me to grow in my role and develop new responsibilities in the organization.”

Insights for Proactive Outreach and Business Retention

*This type of sharing and collaboration would have never been possible with our previous systems.*

Garth Brazelton
Director of Operations and Business Systems

If a company operating in Indiana falls on hard times and needs to consolidate multi-state operations, IEDC would like to help it consolidate in Indiana. “Real-time insights generated by Microsoft Dynamics CRM help us identify struggling companies, proactively reach out, and ultimately garner job gains for Indiana rather than job losses,” states Pittman.

IEDC also uses sales and marketing capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to efficiently manage outreach, optimize its campaigns, and track deal flow. “By tracking responses to advertising and email marketing campaigns in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can assess the success of our promotions and selectively target our efforts and marketing spending,” says Pittman. “We also track opportunities through the pipeline.”

Increased Satisfaction and Mutual Success with Stakeholders

Although it’s a public/private partnership, IEDC still answers to its public-sector stakeholders and overseers in state government. IEDC recently conducted a perception study, which showed that since they implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the satisfaction rate among external stakeholders has dramatically improved. “Quick, easy access to data informs timely decisions and lets us respond to constituents and companies in a manner that they are accustomed to in the business world,” states Pittman.

IEDC and local and regional economic development agencies share data through IEDC’s extranet, which is integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Local agencies use this data to help them create and offer incentives to companies that strengthen the case for locating in Indiana. “This type of sharing and collaboration would have never been possible with our previous systems,” remarks Brazelton.

It is the flexibility and customizability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that make this kind of collaboration possible. Skidmore elaborates, “We’ve held user groups to gather input at various points along the planning and implementation process, and it’s been fairly easy to customize Microsoft Dynamics CRM so that it’s mutually beneficial. In the past, our systems were rigid; they had none of these customization capabilities.”

Success for the Future

Having been introduced to Microsoft Dynamics CRM through IEDC, other organizations are betting their future success on this relationship-enhancing software from Microsoft. One of the largest private site-selection firms in the U.S. is building its CRM system on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Regional economic development agencies that work with the IEDC are implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Skidmore says that a number of Indiana state agencies are exploring using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and according to Brazelton, “At least one other state is interested in what we’ve done.”

The growth in employment and new business in Indiana is indicative of IEDC’s success. This success testifies to the value of running a government agency as a business, supported by rock-solid technologies that help staff manage both information and customer relationships.

Profile: Tom Skidmore, CFO, IEDC

Tom Skidmore leads the Accounting, Audit, and Development Finance departments. In addition, he volunteers his finance and operations acumen as a board member for several organizations in his community.

Skidmore says, “Over the last several years, the IEDC has focused on improving methods for serving our clients and partners. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has given us a pivotal competitive advantage, enabling us to improve responsiveness and efficiency, and to gain access to real-time data critical to our decisions and progress measurement.”

Profile: Garth Brazelton, Director of Operations and Business Systems, IEDC

Garth Brazelton’s hands-on experience as a financial analyst for IEDC prepared him well for leading the process transformation and Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation for IEDC.

Brazelton says, “I’m excited to be a part of fostering a business climate in Indiana that is at the cutting edge in relationship to its peers. I believe the business systems that any organization uses should mirror how that organization wants to be perceived by its customers. The systems must be flexible to change, easy to understand, interconnected, and dynamic. The image and reality of the IEDC that Microsoft Dynamics CRM casts is crystal clear.”

Next Steps

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published February 2013.

Customer Size: Medium Organization
Industry: State and Regional Government Agencies
Country or Region: United States
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
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