At the outset of the 2017 American football season, several players chose to take a knee (versus stand with hand on heart) during the singing of the national anthem. A national uproar ensued. Sports television channel ESPN hired Global Strategy Group (GSG), to conduct a survey to determine public feeling on both sides of the highly charged issue, featuring the results on ESPN Sports Center.
Fortune 100 companies, political leaders, associations, and nonprofits depend on GSG—headquartered in New York City with five additional offices nationally—to help them change minds, influence public opinion, build and protect reputations, navigate crises, manage legislative and regulatory landscapes, and win campaigns. GSG helped New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanual get elected, and institutions as diverse as the University of Pennsylvania, Major League Soccer, and Google devise communications strategies and mitigate bad press.
How are we doing?
Despite its successful track record with clients, the data assessment expert needed help figuring out how its own business was doing. Explains Andrew Ho, Chief Information Officer at Global Strategy Group, “We don’t have dedicated salespeople; our senior VPs sell and deliver work, so their revenue targets include both forecast sales and work in progress. Management couldn’t easily disentangle these two revenue streams and get a point-in-time sense of how the business was doing. We especially struggled with year-end budgeting and forecasting, trying to determine how much business we could take on in the coming year.”
Since 2008, GSG had used Salesforce to manage sales deals, but Salesforce had no out-of-the-box professional services automation capabilities, such as billing and time and expense tracking. Employees copied and pasted Salesforce data into spreadsheets and otherwise cobbled together reports. “Our project-based tools were held together with baling wire and bubble gum,” laughs Ho.
When Salesforce announced yet another price increase, Ho said no more. “What we were paying for Salesforce outstripped its benefits,” he says.
Switching from Salesforce — Data Nerds Win in the End
Being the data nerds that they are, Ho and team performed an exhaustive evaluation of no fewer than 13 sales management, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource planning solutions. In the end, they chose Microsoft Dynamics 365.
“We were looking for a system that included both sales and project management functionality and had a much lower price than Salesforce. Dynamics 365 hit that sweet spot,” Ho says. GSG initially licensed Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, with the intent to roll out other Dynamics 365 applications in the future.
Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation is a holistic solution that billable project-based organizations use to manage all aspects of client-facing activities, from sales through project staffing, project delivery, and invoicing.
GSG engaged Microsoft Partner Velosio to handle implementation and train employees. Velosio also connected GSG to the Microsoft FastTrack for Dynamics 365 program, which provides implementation best practice and assistance.
Better visibility, smarter actions
With Dynamics 365, GSG has much better insight into the state of its business. When GSG pitches a project, there are many components—surveys, focus groups, media relations, digital platform building, analytics—and in the basic Salesforce product, each of these activities was a separate project, making it difficult for GSG to relate them, know who was doing what for a client, and determine which activities had been successful.
Better staff utilization
GSG also has much better insight into staff utilization. Its 85 employees work in six offices, and employees usually work on multiple projects at once. “With Project Service Automation, we can see who’s available, who’s oversubscribed, and who has expertise or interest in certain topics, such as environmental regulations or gun control,” Ho says. Previously, figuring all this out was done by word of mouth and emails—or, Ho says, by sticking your head above the cubicle maze and seeing who was at their desks.
Licensing savings yields more funds for innovation
GSG watched its licensing costs drop a whopping 34 percent by switching from Salesforce to Dynamics 365. The company is reinvesting savings in new technology projects, such as deploying Microsoft Power BI and additional Dynamics applications and further customizing its existing Dynamics applications.
“Until recently, GSG considered IT a back-office function rather than a strategic directive,” Ho says. “But management now believes that technology is critical to the business and a big competitive differentiator, and we’ve embarked on multiple digital transformations. There is an endless list of technology projects that we want to pursue, so every penny counts. We are getting far more for our money with Dynamics 365.”
Check out the full story here. Are you a professional services firm struggling with the same things as GSG? Check out our video: The top five features of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for PSA.
Director of Corporate Account Sales, SBS Group
Joe Gulino has spent 30 years growing and running mid-sized ERP and CRM consulting organizations. Recently, he has focused his career on helping large and mid-sized services companies select, procure and implement ERP and CRM solutions. He has experience in several industries including manufacturing, distribution and professional services.
Today, Joe serves SBS Group customers in his role as Director of Corporate Account Sales where he helps customers solve business problems using Microsoft Dynamics 365 technology. Joe holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Computer Science from Rosary College, and is based in Naperville, Illinois.