by Tim Lohman

Mission Australia rolls out Salesforce CRM

May 14, 20095 mins
CRM SystemsGovernmentGovernment IT

Mission Australia has rolled out 1155 licences of Salesforce’s CRM Enterprise edition aimed at boosting the efficiency of its employment services unit.

The unit, which assists the government in matching current job vacancies to unemployed people, had prior to implementing the CRM system, previously relied on a range of manual processes and spreadsheets to match jobs to the unemployed, track monies spent on job seekers, and manage relationships with corporate donors.

Deriving much of its income, about $200 million per year, from the Federal Government for assisting job seekers in gaining employment, the not-for-profit required a better way to document its employment services work and processing of detailed claim forms.

The organisation also needed a better method of tracking the progress of job seekers well after they start their jobs, both for compliance reasons and to ensure successful outcomes for job seekers and their employers.

Mission Australia also needed a system that could manage the data for more than 27,000 job seekers per month, and easily integrate into the Federal Government’s Job Network System, EA3000, to receive automated weekly information updates about job opportunities.

According to Mission Australia’s CIO, Ross Hawkey, the not for profit, which also has a community services arm and about 3500 staff at 400 locations across Australia, a RFP for a CRM system resulted in a showdown between an on-premise Microsoft Dynamics and a cloud-based’s Enterprise Edition.

“We didn’t go looking for a cloud solution — just a CRM that matched our needs,” he says. “The fact that Salesforce was hosted wasn’t part of our initial thought process, but it became part of it when we could see that it would cost so much per user per month and there was no infrastructure cost, no up-front licensing cost.”

Mission Australia rolled out Salesforce CRM to four major pilot sites in two states in April 2008. After successful trials with these sites, it was rolled out to the rest of Mission Australia’s sites and was finalised from start to finish in nine months, Hawkey says. (For more, see the sidebar, Five Tips on Implementing CRM.)

“We brought in a project manager who, along with the business experts, spent a significant amount of time with Salesforce to get them to understand what we were trying to do, and to ensure the solution fitted into the Salesforce architecture,” he says.

“We found that was the best way to do it: having a person who knows Salesforce intimately to understand what we needed, rather than us getting a product and developing it ourselves.”

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With the CRM system in place, Mission has since streamlined, standardised and automated many of its business processes, Hawkey says.

“In some instances there were up to 150 validation rules for interactions and getting certain types of input into the system,” he says. “There were so many things to track, so much data, and we were managing the best we could before Salesforce.”

Integration with the government’s EA3000 system was a simple process, and did not require the use of any third party middleware, Hawkey says. Now job opportunities are populated directly into Salesforce and are updated on a weekly basis.

“We can also look at the individual job seeker and see what experience they have and what they want to do, and we can track them through the employment seeking process,” he says. “We can also show the government what we have done for that individual as a process to get payment from the government.”

Once Mission began using Salesforce it began to see other parts of its business which could benefit from using CRM, Hawkey says; particular in managing the relationship between corporate partners/donors and our staff.

“In our corporate partnership division we have implemented Salesforce for the 25-30 people managing relationships there,” he says. “We have also made some deployments for government relationships and managing apprenticeships for apprenticeship seekers and organisations offering them.”

Another benefit of opting for an in-cloud provider was that Mission would not have spend time and resources considering how the organisation’s branches could access the CRM application.

“We didn’t have to think about how we would deploy the application or whether we needed some sort of remote desktop environment if it was on on-site application,” he says. “Because it’s in the cloud, as long as you can get to the Internet it’s OK.”

Admittedly, Mission has experienced an up-tick in its network activity and cost as a result of opting for the cloud option, however this has been a limited concern, Hawkey says.

“Our network traffic is now higher as a matter of course as people are accessing the Web more as a general trend,” he says.

Hawkey says that the decision to move to a CRM system was a big one, but one that has already justified the investment.

“What’s important for us is that this allows us to run the business more efficiently: having information at your finger tips, having a consistent interaction process with clients, being able to track the performance of sales reps. We can make sure things aren’t slipping through the cracks,” he says.