The Best Time for System Change, Improvement or Growth
COVID Doesn’t Have to Halt Progress
Author: Alex Walters | Software Consultant | Formus Professional Software | June 2020
Making the Most of an Otherwise Terrible Situation
I have no doubt that anybody reading this will have been affected by the COVID-19 Global Pandemic in some way – personally, I am now working from home full time, my partner is an NHS worker in her main profession but has a second job from which she has been furloughed and my sister’s new business venture has been forced to close 2 months after opening.
At Formus Professional Software, our team have been discussing the impacts of COVID-19 for all of our customers as well as the business and the team personally. Thankfully, Formus Pro is set up to be as cost-efficient as possible with the minimum environmental impact that we can – as a result of this ethos, the switch for us to 100% home working was a simple one – we went home on the Friday locking the office up as usual, and the only change on the Monday morning was to log onto our phone system portal and divert the phone lines.
We are acutely aware that while we have been fortunate enough to be able to do this, not all businesses out there or even all of our customers have had such an easy time of it.
To that end you may have seen our announcement in March 2020 that in support of Microsoft removing licensing barriers to enable businesses around the world to adopt a Remote Workforce.
To add to Microsoft’s offering, we are donating free set up advice and help to assist you in applying this – It is for a limited time only so please contact us if you are looking to unitise this.
Whilst the vast majority of our customers have been able to transition ok, inevitably some are in industries that this won’t be practical for – as a result, some of our ongoing customer projects are on hold – that left a few members of our team with some time to commit to other projects.
Some of this has been used towards our Remote Working Support offer mentioned above, some of it has been to work on writing articles such as this but we also realised it’s the perfect opportunity to make some changes to our internal systems – these things accumulate over time and like most businesses, they tend to get pushed to the back as we focus on looking after our customers.
Why NOW is the Best Time to Make Improvements
During this period we have planned a series of our own internal system upgrades, both our support system and our internal marketing system. Used the time to plan new programming practices for our Resources Page and started developing new products to bring to market.
Somewhere in amongst this, it occurred to us - we won’t be the only business in this position! This is actually the perfect time for us to achieve these goals for a number of reasons:
- Having access to the Decision Makers and Project Sponsors is a little more achievable.
- We have more internal resource for collaborating without pulling resource from customer projects.
- We can get testing scheduled in and carried out by end users.
- Downtime where needed is easier to schedule in.
- Having everybody working remotely, we can be more flexible with deployment times.
There are many ways to start the process of creating, migrating or improving your CRM or wider overall business systems and you don't have to do it alone.
A solutions architect may help you to project plan, make the most of your existing system data, and maximise the time you have to make these changes.
If you don't want to shell out for one as a contractor you could take up a improvement package with an organisation like ours. Some may offer a similar package to our Continuous Improvement service. that allows you access to supportive consultative advice AND the ability to do some of the work for you when you have decided on the best coarse of action.
Saving an Existing Microsoft Project
A D365 Project Rescue service is also something we offer. It has proved itself invaluable to many organisations who find themselves knee deep in system development or implementation that they weren’t quite happy with or expecting.
In too deep to turn back and in need of a swift turnaround? Its not quite time to panic. Tell us your woes and together we will look at a plan to get your project, team and budget back on track and on the road to recovery.
Where to Start With a New Business System?
If you are starting from scratch it’s always good to look at your options and match them as closely as you can to your needs. That said if you don't know what a system is capable of sometimes it can be hard to know what you want to include.
A good place to start could be to think about your industry or departmental focus and go form there. For example Sales and Marketing, Membership Management, Field Service or Manufacturing. Perhaps you are Charity or NFP and need donor management or marketing automation for fundraising? There are plenty to choose from and some even come with discounts.
Don’t worry too much if you don’t find the exact and perfect match. If you opt for Dynamics 365 as your platform it can be moulded by you. Often there are many better ways to do things than the "tailored" off the shelf option offers.
Know your limitations (or rather the limitations of the software applications you're buying). Read our article on knowing the difference between bespoke, custom, out of the box and Fully Configurable Software so you don't get caught out further along down the line.
7 Productive Things to do When Work Is Quiet
Now I understand that everything I have said above is great if you are in the software industry or have an internal IT/Support/Development team or a Partner that can assist you. Unfortunately, for a lot of businesses furloughing staff was the only option in these difficult times but training is still an option and could offer time for internal improvements.
With this in mind, I wanted to draw on some more general examples of how this idea might be able to apply to your business/industry.
- Does your business hold stock or sell stock (centralised or distributed) whether it’s spare parts, mobile phones, paint, or anything in between? If things get quiet the dreaded annual stock take could be a productive consideration.
- Customer Relationship Management is the cornerstone of business – there are many varieties of CRM system available, whether you already use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, or you have another product, this is an extremely powerful solution. It offers process automation, improved visibility and coordination between your sales and marketing teams. Advanced AI and reporting functions to give you the information you need to make informed decisions. Now could be the perfect time to explore what this can do for you – how it can streamline your business, and if you already use it, how it could be better streamlined for you.
- Does your business have a website? These days the shelf life of a website is getting shorter – it could be time for a review and an overhaul. Perhaps consider the addition of adding a Portal. Pulling different sources into a single user interface it is a great mechanism to introduce a new layer of interaction between your business and your customers, and if you have D365 it also links this to your CRM. Great for your own online booking, membership based access, FAQs, customer service client logs and heaps more.
- Does your business offer product support? If so, have you capitalised the channels available to you by using social media for support? Could your customers tweet you when they have an issue or a question? Omnichannel for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service allows you to unite all of these channels into case management within your Dynamics 365 Customer Service app.
- Does your business or profession require any mandatory training? Re-qualifications or certifications are things that normally take time away from your job and can be a pain to get scheduled in. Why not do it now?
- Do you operate in the Field Service industry? One of the best efficiencies here is if you can achieve a first time fix on as many jobs as possible. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service can give technicians access to in-context help via online guides or knowledgebases. Offline service tracking and support, drag and drop resource management via an interactive scheduling board and effectively manage customer assets. This gives your team the best possible chance to deliver the customer service you are looking for – whether you already have this, Dynamics 365 for other purposes, or neither, the next release of this is set to bring some fantastic overhauls, improvements and features – we will be reviewing this very soon.
- Does your business have a preferred charity, maybe offer support or fundraising during this time? We offer discounts to charities, so if you are one we can help.
If you are looking to migrate or improve your current CRM or Field Service systems, please get in touch and talk to us about the benefits Microsoft Dynamics 365 could provide to your business.