ClubLINKS was established in 2002 with the aim of providing accounting and financial support services to two PGA LINKS clubs, Sandhurst and Sanctuary Lakes. Since then it has expanded both its range of managed services and the number of properties that it works with, to create a portfolio that includes outsourced accounting, payroll and IT functions; concierge services; private security, utilities management and an architectural review committee to ensure consistency and appropriateness in residential properties.
As ClubLINKS' business model evolved, different software packages were introduced to support new services, but according to Chief Operating Officer, Nick Hanvin, the additions followed no particular plan.
The result was that by 2004, ClubLINKS found itself dealing with many different systems that were unable to share basic data. Hanvin explains, “The main problem was with our finance and point of sale (POS) system which was written in a very old computer language. It was not user friendly which made it difficult to interrogate the data, so we had to engage external consultants every time we wanted to write a new report.”
With the system only designed to handle two of the company's growing stable of services, no ability to integrate with common tools such as Microsoft Excel, and increasing stability and performance issues, the problems soon came to a head. Hanvin went to the Board and recommended it was time to develop a new approach to IT.
ClubLINKS began by examining the functionality of international golf management software packages and then applying this knowledge to help define its own needs.
High on the list of requirements was a single database to house all customer data. In addition, ClubLINKS wanted the ability to replicate each club's individual set of business rules within the CRM. Hanvin notes, “We had a scenario where one person could be in up to five different systems and this raised issues for maintaining accuracy of data. We wanted to be able to add a member to the CRM system once and have that information made available to all the relevant business applications.”
Other items on the wish list included centralised IT administration, improved data security, better communication with staff and clients including a member's portal, improved access to quality management data and a platform that would support ClubLINKS continuing growth.
Although Hanvin found one overseas-based solution that came close to meeting ClubLINKS needs, his final choice was to replace all existing software applications with a suite of Microsoft products including the Microsoft Dynamics GP, CRM and Retail Management Solutions, plus Microsoft SharePoint Server.
“We went with Microsoft because, through Professional Advantage , they have a local presence and we were very comfortable working with the PA people. Microsoft is an industry leader and we were confident that their products would evolve to incorporate new technologies and functionality.” Hanvin says.