|Given that we rely on Microsoft Dynamics AX for our ERP, moving to Microsoft Dynamics CRM was a very natural progression. It has made sense in terms of our overall technology direction, and it has made life easier for the IT department as well as the sales field.|
| James Fleming|
As the market leader in an extremely competitive industry, Speedy Hire is constantly on the lookout for ways improve efficiency and differentiate itself from the competition. The company, which also does business in the U.K. under theSpeedy Services brand, has captured more than 10% of the market for equipment rental and sales, serving approximately 100,000 customers and generating annual revenue of £350 million (approximately US$558 million).
A solid long-term IT strategy, which values core systems as strategic business assets, has played a major role in this success. “Technology is crucial to the success of this company,” explains James Fleming, CIO at Speedy Hire. “Whether we’re creating a slick sales experience at the point of sale, delivering superior service when we interact with an account, or leveraging customer and sales information to more accurately predict where the market is going, technology makes a difference in everything we do.”
A Business Strategy Built on Microsoft Technology
When Fleming assumed the role of CIO in 2009, Speedy Hire was using Microsoft Dynamics AX 3.0 for ERP functions and had deployed Salesforce.com to 250 sales people. Among Fleming’s first orders of business was replacing Salesforce and planning the company’s long-term migration to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
“When I took over as CIO, I didn’t hear many good things about Salesforce.com,” comments Fleming. “It was not a great system for us—people were not getting enough useful information out of the product and it lacked offline functionality.”
On the ERP side, the company was committed to Microsoft Dynamics AX, and wanted to ensure that it could easily share information among AX and other core business systems. “As CIO, integration is very important to me,” says Fleming. “Given that we would continue to rely on Microsoft Dynamics AX for our ERP, moving to Microsoft Dynamics CRM was a very natural progression. Considering all the possible points of integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and AX 2012, it makes sense that this is the way we should be going.”
Other important considerations in the selection of Microsoft Dynamics CRM were facilitating rapid adoption among the sales teams, and providing a platform for eventually delivering mobile functionality to people in the field.
Outstanding Usability and Strong Business Intelligence Capabilities
In early 2012, after a small pilot project, Speedy Hire deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in its on-premises data center and made the solution available to 250 sales professionals. Adoption has been immediate and universal: sales teams appreciate the flexibility to work within Microsoft Outlook or in a web browser, as well as the ability to work online or offline without worrying about synchronizing or re-entering data when they return to the office—two issues that had prevented widespread use of Salesforce.com. Today, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution hosts 40,000 active customer accounts and serves as the single, central repository for sales and account management activities.
Single Source of Customer Information
Speedy Hire is currently rolling out the Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution to its central call center, giving the 100 customer service representatives there visibility into the same data as their counterparts in the field. Because call center staff frequently interact with the same customers as field sales teams, the ability for people in either area to enter orders, record issue resolution, update account histories, and have this information immediately visible across the company ensures that everyone who interacts with a customer is better informed.
“We see much more accurate and comprehensive information in Microsoft Dynamics CRM than we had in Salesforce.com,” says Fleming. “Having a single, consolidated source of customer and sales data gives us confidence that our decisions will be sound. Sales representatives are better informed about their customers and are spending their time more productively.”
Fleming further notes that after implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, information will flow seamlessly between the CRM and ERP systems. Sales and customer service teams will have access to financial and inventory information, and orders entered in CRM will flow through to AX.
Highly Usable ERP System with Valuable Business Intelligence
Speedy Hire first experienced Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 through participation in the Microsoft Technology Adoption Program, and is upgrading its existing AX 3.0 implementation incrementally, with plans to go live on the new version in early 2013. “We have two main goals for the ERP implementation,” says Fleming. “One, we want to make the best use of the solution’s elegant user interface so that employees will readily adopt it and use it productively. Two, we will take advantage of the wide-ranging business intelligence capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX to enable a level of informed, effective decision making that will play a big role in making Speedy Hire more competitive.”
Fleming envisions that the tight integration between Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and Microsoft SQL Server, SQL Server Reporting Services, and SQL Server Analysis Services, will enable deeper business intelligence, allowing Speedy Hire to replace the current Business Objects reporting solution.
The stability, ease of deployment, and straightforward integration between ERP and CRM systems have provided Speedy Hire with a platform on which to build and extend the solution. Speedy Hire plans to configure Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 to deliver capabilities that are unique to its business, for example, to support a complex, negotiated pricing and discount model that results in custom pricing for almost every customer. “Incorporating the proper pricing for each account into the ERP system will ensure that orders and invoices are correct and that our process reflects customer expectations,” says Fleming.
As users become increasingly comfortable with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the company plans to add usage scenarios and build out workflows to automate additional processes. Fleming also plans to make the solution available to mobile users on a range of devices, including tablets running Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7 smartphones, which are replacing Blackberries in the field and should be deployed to all sales people by the end of this year.
“We are constantly assessing ways to create more value from our technology investment,” explains Fleming. “In addition to planning how we can benefit from new Microsoft technologies, we are always looking at opportunities for industry-specific functionality we can find in such resources as the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace.”
Profile: James Fleming CIO, Speedy Hire
|James Fleming, |
CIO, Speedy Hire
Fleming has been with Speedy Hire for six years and assumed his current CIO role in 2009, when he took on the relationship between Speedy Hire and Microsoft as a kind of special project. “When I became the CIO, we didn’t have any sort of a relationship with Microsoft at all,” he says. “We worked very hard at building that. Now, I can call almost anybody at any time of day and know that I can get help. I even have the phone numbers of people in Seattle and we speak frequently. Microsoft assistance is immediate and provides us with a great sense of comfort. When you think of a company as big as Microsoft, you might think communications and service are somewhat remote, but we’ve actually had really personal service. That’s absolutely crucial and feels very different from some of the other vendors we deal with.”
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