Digital transformation of fourfront group with preact

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 / CRM Case Study

BACKGROUND

Fourfront Group is a family of companies that create inspiring workplaces which embody an organisation’s culture and values to foster productivity and wellbeing.

The Group’s service offering includes office design and fit-out, detail and build (Area Sq), traditional fit-out (Cube Interior Solutions), workplace consultancy (360 Workplace) as well as commercial furniture solutions and move management (Sketch Studios).

In July 2017, Area Sq and Cube Interior Solutions merged to create Area, one of the largest workplace design and fit-out specialists in the UK market.

Area Sq was founded in 1999 and started out using Act! CRM which was installed and configured by Preact.

Preact has supported the business ever since as Area Sq has grown and they have been at their side as Act! was subsequently upgraded and rolled out to other companies in Fourfront Group.

THE REQUIREMENT

Act! was used by the telesales teams within these businesses but as these grew in size and scale the software was proving restrictive as Justin Bass, Special Projects Director - Fourfront Group explains:

“For some years we’d struggled to make progress with Act! CRM. Preact had previously suggested this was no longer capable of meeting our requirements and they presented Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a more suitable system.

We were growing at a phenomenal rate and we had other priorities so with Preact’s help we made some customisations to Act! and persisted with it but it was soon clear that we would need a new solution.

When we started out, we needed an easy to use application that would track our sales calls and Act! handled this perfectly. As the Group grew there was less reliance on Act! which was solely being used by our telesales teams for lead generation.”

“Once a lead was qualified the process left Act! and all these details then ended up in a sales ‘black book’. This meant there wasn't visibility as to what happened next and this was just one example of how our processes weren’t connected and we weren't effectively leveraging our data for centralised reporting.”

Justin highlights another significant issue that increased the need for Fourfront Group to find a new solution:

“One business-critical piece of data that we need to know about our prospects is the length of their current lease-break agreement.

Having analysed our data it was clear this wasn't being consistently tracked, as some of our telesales processes were fairly slapdash.

We urgently needed a more robust process that would enforce a rule to make sure this data is captured in CRM before a lead could be qualified. It was apparent to us that this couldn’t be achieved effectively using our Act! system so we started to investigate alternative options.”

THE SOLUTION

Fourfront Group were already using Microsoft Office 365 across its businesses and had a history of using Microsoft technology but Dynamics was not its immediate choice:

“Dynamics CRM was clearly a massive system but we weren't certain it was right for us. As a construction business we initially focused on systems that were closely aligned to our market but as our existing supplier, we wanted to involve Preact in the discussion to understand what they would offer.”

Justin and his colleagues saw that Dynamics was much changed from the system they’d previously looked at:

“From the outset, Preact demonstrated that they understood our business and they were very straightforward in demonstrating exactly how Dynamics would deliver what we wanted, both now and in the future. They showed us how we could use a guided process flow to enforce our business rules to ensure that we are consistently tracking all the critical data that we need during the lead qualification process before it reaches sales.”

Preact implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM (now Dynamics 365) for Fourfront Group in 2016 and it is now shared by over 100 users across its companies.

THE RESULT

Reflecting on the successes that Fourfront Group has achieved with Dynamics 365 / CRM, Justin first points to a series of reporting improvements:

“We’ve seen a sea change in how we report. Previously this was a manual process and often subjective but it is now entirely based on facts being driven by CRM data.

We now take the view that if the data it isn't in Dynamics, it won't be included in our reporting. We have even altered our staff contracts which now make each individual personally responsible for updating Dynamics 365. Previously, our directors would spend several hours every month updating our finance team about the timings for on-site work delivered. All this data is now available to Finance in real-time through Dynamics 365 and this alone has saved in excess of 20 hours each month across our companies. For the first time in the Group’s history, I’m now able to take an accurate group-wide pipeline report into our board meetings.”

Dynamics 365 data is now driving sales decisions across the Group as Justin explains:

“At the start of every week our sales team meet to review their pipelines. The quality of data we now have in Dynamics has transformed the quality of these conversations. It exposes our activity and it has helped to educate everyone as to the levels of activities that are needed to reach our goals.

As well as helping us coordinate short-term sales activities it also gives us radar so that we can plan as far as 2 years in advance.

Our sales team are fully engaged with the system, they can see what deals are hot and what they'll be pitching for next month. Within one dashboard they have a stream of all the essentialinformation they need.We now have a unified sales process which is saving us considerable time. This includes integrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 with LinkedIn Sales Navigator so that we can leverage our personal networks to help close out deals.

Dynamics 365 has helped us to connect our processes which gives everyone involved in the sales process clear visibility of the customer journey from lead all the way through to payment.”

“Preact did a great job in scoping our requirement which really helped to plotall the steps and stages in these processes, and define how these would be mapped to Dynamics. This added to the considerable value that we are now seeing across sales and other teams.”

By centralising its data and consistently tracking business-critical information, Dynamics 365 has helped Fourfront Group enrich its data and empower its mobile workers:

“We have carried out work in more than 9000 buildings in London and across the Thames Valley. The progress we have made in Dynamics is such that everyone can now easily access all the maps, contacts, companies and background detail in one place wherever they work.”

Looking ahead, Justin is excited by the prospect of gaining new data insights from Power BI:

“We are not at capacity with Microsoft Dynamics 365 but we have an appetite to do much more. Power BI is the catalyst for much of this as we are getting excellent insight from these visuals which is helping us optimise more aspects

of our operation.The focus for the immediate project was to improve our process from ‘research to win’ and now we are looking at Dynamics 365 and Power BI to help us improve our processes from ‘winning to delivery’.

In our business it can prove to a challenge to manage resourcing and sometimes an opportunity can move quickly from ’hot’ to ‘order’ within a week.

By connecting Dynamics 365 data to Power BI we have clarity about the state of the sales pipeline as well as start and finish times for our active projects. Combined, this means we can plan our resources far earlier and be proactive in using this insight to optimise start times.”

Turning to their long-standing CRM partner, Justin credits Preact’s work:

“Microsoft Dynamics has been the single biggest systems purchase in the Group's history and our longest internal project.Throughout this, Preact has been excellent. They have given us great guidance, especially to help us build a project team and in stressing the need to appoint some CRM super users which has proved invaluable.

Preact have been utterly honest with us. They were very clear on what would be achieved in the initial phase of our CRM rollout. From then on they've supplied what we wanted and delivered what they promised, on time and on budget. We could not have asked for more!

Fourfront Group has grown from a start-up to a £160m+ business within 20 years and Preact has supported us throughout this time. Their work on this latest project has enabled us to digitally transform our business and this will help us continue our incredible growth.”

To learn more about Fourfront Group, visit www.fourfrontgroup.co.uk