Nanyang Technological University
University Automates CRM, Improves Business Productivity, Customer Relationships
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is a Singapore-based university delivering science and engineering courses to more than 27,000 students. Its Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) links the university with its alumni and the wider community by providing continuing education courses. As a result of increasing enrolment, CCE was looking for a system to support its large cohort and better manage the work processes and customer relationships. In 2006 CCE partnered with Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner, Business Process Solutions to deploy Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM 3.0 to automate its customer relationship management (CRM) processes. This technology solution has resulted in improved quality of service delivery, increased staff productivity, and has enabled CCE to make faster decisions through enhanced tracking of course enrolments and the ability to plan for new opportunities. Situation
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is ranked as one of the top 20 technology universities in the world. Based in Singapore, the university focuses on science and engineering and is organized across 12 schools under a four-college structure. NTU has two autonomous entities, the National Institute of Education, and the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Providing education for more than 19,000 undergraduates and 8,600 graduate students, the university employs 2,500 teaching and research staff.
||The solution supports end-to-end customer interactions, from the initial enquiry right through to the completion of the course and marketing of future courses.
||Lew Choong Heong , Director, Business Process Solutions
The NTU Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) was established in July 1991 and acts as a link between NTU and the wider community by providing continuing education courses for alumni and members of the public. CCE employs 16 staff to administer and teach its courses. CCE wanted to support the growing business by improving its workflow systems. Improved workflow would enable the organization to better connect with customers, deepen its understanding of participant profiles, and provide support for effective marketing campaigns.
Potential participants can register for CCE courses through its website, in person, or with a call, and historically the centre relied heavily on separate business tools and applications to manage this process. The registering of participants for CCE courses was processed using Microsoft® Excel® 2003 spreadsheets and Microsoft® Office Access® 2002 databases. Enrolment data on the website was stored in a central Access database. These separate and non-integrated processes proved labor-intensive and time-consuming, affecting staff productivity.
Course administrators needed to check the database frequently to ensure courses were adequately subscribed to, and they manually emailed registered participants using Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2003. CCE was looking to improve its workflow for enrolment acknowledgment and course confirmation by linking all the processes together and automating them when certain pre-determined conditions were triggered. CCE wanted to improve its ability to communicate in a timely manner with registered and potential participants, as well as be able to send automatic notifications to inform course administrators of new enrolments, and inform participants of successful registration.
Course offerings are also advertised on the CCE website in an attempt to reach out and market courses to working executives, but keeping track of current online registrations was a time-consuming exercise. Besides taking many hours, it required multiple information transfers and increased the risk of data errors made by staff. CCE wanted to reduce data entry duplication by having data captured in a centralized system when participants registered on the CCE website. The organization also wanted course information to be captured in the same system and automatically published on the website.
To speed accurate decision-making and facilitate future planning, CCE required a technology solution that would produce up-to-date statistics and easily create filters for a personalized analysis of various businesses. The organization wanted to integrate its processes, enhance its customer relationships, offer a high level of service, and support its growing business.Solution
CCE chose to partner with Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Business Process Solutions (BPS) to deploy Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM 3.0 and Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2000, to automate its customer relationship management processes. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a solution that provides the tools to create bio-data and track records of participants, from first contact through to purchase and post-sales. This enables organizations to make better business decisions. The project took one year to complete and BPS was involved in the deployment and customization of business processes for course administration, and the software needed to create course records. This provides seamless integration with the CCE website to publish courses and seminars for online registration.
CCE chose Microsoft Dynamics because of its fit with existing business model and environment, its flexibility to adapt to the needs and its high usability. “The solution integrates well with Microsoft® Office, which means CCE staff are already familiar with the user interface. We are also able to make use of out-of-the-box tools such as the embedded customization wizard to support user creation of new course management systems and participant registration records,” explains Lew Choong Heong, Director, Business Process Solutions.
The tight integration of Microsoft Dynamics with the Microsoft Office system allows CCE employees to maintain and develop new CCE course curricula. This is done by pulling information from Microsoft Dynamics into Microsoft Office system applications such as Microsoft® Office Excel® spreadsheets and Microsoft® Office Word documents. This means users have access to the complete set of Microsoft Dynamics functionalities without ever leaving Microsoft Office. They also have the option of working offline and automatically synchronizing the next time they log on.
Outlook messaging and collaboration now provides CCE staff with a tool for communicating with participants and prospects, driving improved service quality, and storing contact information. Participant information can be easily managed from Outlook using the ‘Microsoft Sales’ feature for Outlook in Microsoft Dynamics. This information is also available to all CCE staff, so that they can view customer history, maintain regular contact with participants, and respond effectively to queries and requests.
CCE now has a centralized repository for all information on its external customers, partners, participants, and prospects, supporting its aim to be a strong service-focused organization. Microsoft Dynamics enables personalized interaction with participants and automates several previously time-consuming workflow processes. Email confirmations are now automatically generated to registered participants.
The CCE website is automatically updated with new course offerings entered into Microsoft Dynamics. This allows interested members of the public to view new and updated courses and developments. “Course offering details in the Dynamics CRM database are automatically populated on the website. Likewise, registration details entered to the website are captured in Dynamics CRM using Web Service,” explains Lew.
To minimize course cancellations that could cause disruptions to registered customers, participant numbers are tracked in Microsoft Dynamics, ensuring that under-subscribed courses are highlighted early for follow-up action. “The course administrator can easily track the enrolment numbers for each particular course, allowing them to conduct further advertising and marketing to increase student numbers,” says Lew. Benefits
CCE uses Microsoft Dynamics to provide staff with direct access to course and participant information, to improve service quality, make timely decisions, and reinforce CCE reputation as a world-class educational establishment. After deploying Microsoft Dynamics, CCE has streamlined its workflow processes and improved productivity. The Centre now has a technology solution that adapts easily to dynamic business changes, with a minimal learning curve for employees.Streamlines Workflow
Manual processes are now automated, resulting in streamlined workflow and improvements in productivity. With this full integration with Microsoft Office and Outlook platforms, Microsoft Dynamics increases staff efficiency when administrating CCE courses and conferences. “The entire logistics of course administration and communication between external parties and the centre has been automated. This streamlines workflow and provides maximum support to the business,” comments Lew. Supports Sales
Microsoft Dynamics provides a centralized repository for all information on external parties. This means marketing efforts can be easily tailored to the right customers, at the right time. Tan asserts, “CCE now has an effective tool for centralized marketing. Microsoft Dynamics enables staff to view and analyze individual and group participant records and current course enrolment numbers, and then send out appropriate information to potential participants based on pre-determined interests and past participation.”Improves CRM
CCE relies on Microsoft Dynamics to improve its relationships with participating members and the public. “The solution supports end-to-end customer interactions, from the initial enquiry right through to the completion of the course and marketing of future courses. In the past CCE could not see the history of enquiries. Now with Microsoft Dynamics all interactions with potential and existing participants are accurately and carefully tracked. Furthermore, the information can be easily made available to CCE management for their reference” says Lew. Simplifies Business Change
One of the key advantages of Microsoft Dynamics is the ease with which the application adopts ongoing changes from the business. “It can be fully customized and integrated into changing business needs, with little impact on users due to its familiar interface and integration with existing software applications,” says Lew. Microsoft Dynamics also minimizes the familiarization time required for new users and speeds user adoption, especially for participant-facing personnel. “Because it partners seamlessly with Office Outlook, using Microsoft Dynamics requires little training.
Users are already familiar with the interface and so the technology platform can be utilized throughout CCE, rather than just be limited to IT staff,” asserts Lew.For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about Business Process Solutions products and services, call +65 9682 7876.Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success. This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published September 2007
For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to: