Having reviewed its existing systems, it was apparent Farrier Registration Council (FRC) needed a secure and resilient solution to protect customer data, ensuring compliance with Data Protection legislation. By implementing Microsoft CRM Cloud, now known as Dynamic 365, the company is now able to guarantee world-class security with built-in disaster recovery and data back-up.
In summary, Microsoft CRM Cloud has enabled FRC to benefit from:
- A scalable cloud CRM solution which allows FRC to maintain 5,500 personal records, increasing annually by approximately 350.
- World-class data security, enabling FRC to meet its obligations under data protection regulations, plus enjoy bullet-proof disaster recovery and data back-up.
- A CRM solution that integrates seamlessly with existing software e.g. Sage 50 Accounts, as well as the FRC website.
- Enhanced reporting capabilities, including historical data, in both tabular and graphical formats, to drive informed management decision making.
The search for a cutting-edge cloud CRM solution
David Greenwood is FRC’s Registrar and Nicola Finck is the Deputy Registrar. They explained the thinking behind the upgrade to Microsoft CRM Cloud. “Our existing database was old, unstable and prone to losing data,” explains Nicola. “Producing management reports was tricky and whenever we wanted to make any changes we had to employ a third party to do it.
“There was zero integration with our other software, for example Sage 50 Accounts, which meant any data had to be input twice. Most important of all, it was vulnerable to security risks and as an organisation we are required to meet certain security criteria under the Data Protection Act.
“So, around 15 months ago, we began to look for a replacement – we wanted a cutting-edge CRM solution that would offer high levels of stability and security, integrate with other software, offer advanced reporting capabilities, stretch with our growing database and dovetail seamlessly into the unique way we do things. After all, we don’t sell anything, we simply maintain a register.”
The decision to go Cloud
“As a small organisation, it was vital we minimise any risk,” David says. “We needed to find a partner who could recommend the right product, put it together, get it up and running with minor modification and basically shoulder all the risk. We chose Xperience Group for the simple reason they took the time to listen to what we needed and understand our business, and then come up with a solution that would work for us: cloud-based Microsoft CRM.”
“We were already familiar with cloud,” says Nicola, “So a cloud-based solution made sense. There are no infrastructure costs, no need for expensive servers, server operating system software, SQL licences, anti-virus software, specialist backup software, software updates or anything like that – all of which are attractive benefits to an organisation of our size.”
“The installation itself went seamlessly. Xperience came in during the first week in January to get to know everyone and explore our expectations. Then they went away, customised the product a little and came back with a prototype which we tested over the following two weeks. They then made final changes before going live in April. They spent a further two days training users and making sure everyone was happy - and it’s been fine ever since. There were a few teething problems, which is only to be expected, but nothing major.”
“It’s still early days,” says David, “But Microsoft CRM definitely has the cutting-edge capability we wanted. We know instinctively we’re dealing with a better product. The look and feel and the way the data is displayed makes it easy to use and comprehend. It’s just a far more stable and secure platform, as it’s hosted in Xperience’s secure data centres rather than on-premise. So security, something that was our primary business risk, is now a negligible risk.”
“Microsoft CRM dovetails seamlessly with our website as well as our Sage 50 Accounts software," says Nicola. "Instead of having to enter data into two systems, we only have to enter it once. For example, I can log payments on Sage and know they’ve been updated in Microsoft CRM. Or, if I want to update anyone’s personal details, I can enter them into Microsoft CRM and know they’ve been updated in Sage - it works both ways."
“The advanced reporting has been a huge benefit,” says David. “We used to be knee-deep in data yet we didn’t have a single piece of useful management information. Now we can turn data into management information that allows us to drive informed decision making rather than simply sticking a wet finger in the air and having a guess. It also gives us stretch when it comes to maintaining our 5,500+ personal records, which increase every year.
“We haven’t had time to exploit Microsoft CRM to its full potential; we’ve made a conscious decision not to rush ahead and to wait until everyone’s completely comfortable. For instance we know we can access it from anywhere and on any device. I’ve already accessed it from home, but we haven’t yet tested remote access data handling in a serious way. We see this as a journey, not a one-time thing.”
“It was definitely the right decision,” says Nicola. “Xperience have held our hands which for us, as a small organisation, has been really helpful because we don’t have any IT expertise in-house. The look and feel of their initial business pitch gave us a sense that we were dealing with people we could trust and who we would be happy to get into a relationship with. And, when it came to selecting a product that looked, felt and transmitted itself as being the best solution to meet our needs it has turned out to be that way. So it’s all come good from this end!”
About Farriers Registration Council
Based in Peterborough and established in 1975, the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) maintains and develops standards of equine foot welfare. In addition to keeping a register of all registered farriers in the UK, FRC also approves training courses and qualifications.