Engineering Firm Rides the Resources Boom More Professionally with Microsoft’s CRM
“Currently we have a project pipeline worth A$4.8 billion. By helping us to manage that pipeline intelligently, we estimate the CRM system has already paid for itself.” Jenni Campbell, Business Systems Manager, Decmil
Decmil provides a range of project-related engineering, construction and site advisory services to Australia’s resources, energy and infrastructure sector. The Perth-based firm works with many of the resource industry’s key players, including BHP Billiton, Chevron, Rio Tinto and Woodside. Decmil’s business has grown strongly on the back of Australia’s resources boom and it now employs more than 900 staff and contractors around the country. Although the resources industry is large, it is dominated by a relatively small number of companies. And while Decmil works on grand-scale construction projects, it might only win five tenders per year.
“Our clients are large, multi-layered organisations,” says Jenni Campbell, Business Systems Manager, Decmil. “However, there is a fairly small number of key decision makers on specific resource projects, so our main challenge is understanding who is working on which projects.”
“We ended up having all this knowledge sitting just in senior managers’ heads. Besides the inherent inaccessibility, there was always the risk of them walking out the door and taking all the knowledge with them,” says Campbell.
“We didn’t have a formal process for converting those opportunities into real projects,” explains Campbell. “We also lacked a way to maintain that information in a way that other people could access it. We were concerned we weren’t being as professional as we could in chasing up opportunities because there was no easy way to find out who had been in touch with clients and when.”
In early 2009, Decmil went to market looking for a vendor to supply a customer relationship management system that could address these issues by providing a formal lead management process and a central repository of customer information.
In April 2009, Decmil engaged Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Ignia to build a technology system for its customer and lead management processes.
“Our first step was to go in with a business analyst, who mapped out how they wanted their process flows to work,” says Phil Rickson, Managing Director, Ignia. “We looked at how they generated leads, how they qualified them and how they turned them into opportunities. We also looked at the sorts of data they wanted to capture about the lead management process and about their customers.”
Ignia then designed a system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, with a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database backend. It uses Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services to extract data from the CRM system and then generate reports such as the Decmil’s sales pipeline and revenue forecasts. It also uses report data to create dashboards for the company’s Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 portal.
“Ignia was great to deal with,” says Campbell. “It was always very clear what was in the scope of the project so there were no arguments about the account at the end. They’re a good bunch of people to work with, very easy to talk to and to understand.”
The uptake process went very smoothly, because of the familiar Microsoft interface.
“Our staff already knew what the save button looked like and generally how the interface was set up,” said Campbell. “If they knew how to use Word, they could use the CRM system without any training.”
The lead management system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 has given Decmil a single, reliable source of information regarding its pre-contract activities. It can quickly analyse this data and extrapolate information, enabling its managers to make better business decisions.
One source of customer information Decmil can now ensure valuable information about clients is retained within the company in a single location. It also has a means of tracking each opportunity as it progresses through the pre-contract and project award process.
“From the first time we hear about an opportunity, we can keep track of it: from lead to expression of interest to budget to tender to contract,” says Campbell. “The more complex deals might repeat some of those stages numerous times, but we always know exactly where it is and what should happen next.”
For example, the new system provides an estimate of the firm’s conversion ratio from initial leads to contracts. This helps estimate how much to invest in pre-sales activity.
“You only ever win a small number of contracts and the investment can be quite high,” said Campbell. “This way we can forecast how much we need to invest in pre-contract activities to make our revenue budget.
“We need to look at these things two or three years in advance and now we can analyse on a granular level what work we have in hand and what’s coming up.”
Professional client service
The new system’s customer relationship management capabilities also help Decmil ensure staff always treat customers professionally and follow the correct procedure for moving leads along the sales pipeline.
“The system keeps track of who has made phone calls, who has called back, who has emailed,” says Campbell. “This way, no matter who answers the phone, they can have an informed conversation with the client based on our most recent dealings with them.”
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