The Electoral Commission has benefited from a new CRM system designed to improve productivity and customer service across the organisation.

The Commission maintains records for over 9000 stakeholders – including 400 political parties, so it was no mean feat for Microsoft and its Microsoft Dynamics CRM system.

As part of the project, Dynamics had to integrate with the Party Election Finance system online.

Microsoft partnered with IMGROUP on the project, which designed and implemented the system.

The project came about after staff at the Commission found it difficult to undertake customer requests, or prepare for customer meetings because of insufficient information due to uncoordinated data sources.

Dynamics CRM was rolled out with specific aims – to combine and keep up to date 25 disparate sources of information, eliminate data duplication, increase accuracy and manage sensitive data, among other others.

It also had to be supportive and play a larger roll due to government cuts.

Phil Tucker, Head of ICT for The Electoral Commission worked on the project, and spoke to to reveal four key considerations that had to be made when working on the project:

1. In-house support

“It is very important to have a good support organisation to provide technical back up on a long term basis. But we also found that it was essential to have a member of staff dedicated to providing user support to deal with the smaller day to day issues, to provide training and guidance and to act as the liaison and filter between users and the 3rd party support organisation. We lacked such a person in the early days of implementation and this held us back.”

2. Training

“A certain amount of general training in CRM is useful but it is really essential, as implementation progresses, to have someone who understands the business to provide tailored training to specific groups of staff.”

3. Implementation

“Don’t underestimate the effort required for a successful implementation. Even in a small organisation, a phased approach is preferable to a big bang. Start with those who are keenest to adopt and use them to demonstrate benefits to the sceptics.”

4. Cost savings

“These are hard to determine and the temptation is to over-estimate when the business case is being developed. Make sure that any claims you make will be measurable and demonstrable when it comes to evaluating the project.”