Professional Advantage implemented an integrated finance and CRM solution for Active Tree Services to replace their outdated information systems.
Active Tree Services is a major vegetation management company in Australia providing arboriculture services, power line vegetation management, vegetation recycling and emergency response services to clients such as utilities and local governments.
The company employs over 570 full-time staff and 300 contractors, maintains a substantial fleet of specialist equipment, and reported annual revenues in excess of $100 million in 2010.
Active Tree Services wanted an integrated, whole-of-business information system with comprehensive financial, CRM and collaboration capabilities.
Active Tree Services employed information systems that were very limited in function to meet current needs.
The company’s two most critical systems, finance and customer relationship management (CRM) were aging with limited functionality, offering only the most basic form of integration.
Key drawbacks included difficulty in data sharing and obtaining meaningful financial reports.
Justin Sheppherd, Active Tree Services’ Chief Information Officer led the search for a replacement solution capable of managing the entire business.
Key project goals included:
- Faster, more accurate management reporting and financial information
- Reduction in manual re-keying of data
- Improved ability to analyse management information while maintaining data integrity
- Increased user acceptance of the core system to ensure uniformity of use across the business
- Standardised platform to enhance the ability of IT to support the applications
Sheppherd additionally wanted to retain an existing application, Microsoft SharePoint Services in the upgraded integrated solution that they had been using to provide document management and aid collaboration on projects across the enterprise and between branches.
Since the software was well accepted by the company’s 200 IT users, Sheppherd could see great potential to develop more services using the software.
After evaluating a range of CRM solutions and financial packages as well as all the major ERP vendors, Sheppherd identified Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Scribe Insight as the core elements of the integrated solution with Scribe functioning as an integration tool.
Sheppherd says it was important for the new solution to offer flexibility and scalability because of the unique demands of their business that required their contractual obligations from operations through to invoicing and data collection to be primarily driven by their customers. This, he says required them to have the ability to quickly change to adapt to their clients’ demands.
With Microsoft recommending Professional Advantage as the implementation partner and after reviewing their previous software implementations, Sheppherd was convinced of their capabilities.
According to Sheppherd, Professional Advantage had the reputation, experience and expertise in the three core pieces of the project, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Scribe Insight.
Given the scope of the implementation, the deployment was divided into stages.
The first application to go live was Microsoft Dynamics GP, forming the company’s core financial system and including cash book, payables, receivables and fixed assets.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM was deployed six months later to provide sales process management, training and certification management, insurance notification as well as audit management.
Key applications of the CRM solution at Active Tree Services include:
- Used as invoicing front-end by administrative staff
- Records and reports OH&S data such as audits, injuries and incidents
- Manages staff qualifications
- Integrated into the HR and payroll system to enable flow of employee information from HR into the CRM
Professional Advantage integrated Microsoft Office SharePoint Server with the CRM and financial systems. All the services previously developed in SharePoint have been retained and new functionality has been added.
The portal includes a time sheet processing system used by HR to advertise positions available as well as by Finance to keep staff informed of corporate news.
Some of the benefits derived by Active Tree Services from the implementation:
- Greater visibility of all business information for management and operations staff with SharePoint and Reporting Services
- Information can be accessed from Microsoft Dynamics GP, payroll and various other operational SQL databases or from the CRM system
- SharePoint provides a single, secure place to access all the information on the web
- Significant savings in transaction processing time and costs
- Improvements in efficiency and information availability help manage costs
- Improved invoicing processes with less effort and fewer errors
- Time-saving from reduction in re-keying data
- Reduction in off-system processes and introduction of greater standardisation across the business
- Customer satisfaction from the ability to provide timely, accurate information on demand
- Self-service reporting reduces time spent by staff in gathering data
Microsoft Dynamics has provided a solid platform for transaction processing while SharePoint enables a compelling environment for employees to interact with each other.
For Sheppherd and his team, one of the most important aspects of Professional Advantage’s implementation was the knowledge transfer offered to Active Tree Services staff.
According to Sheppherd, Professional Advantage’s mentoring allows them to maintain and modify the systems on their own.
He adds that Professional Advantage managed a very smooth implementation with everything delivered on time and on budget.