Overview

Country or Region: United States

Industry: Information services

 

Customer Profile

Inacom Information Systems is a business solutions provider specializing in the areas of technology consulting, education, and procurement. Headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, Inacom has 140 employees.

 

Business Situation

Inacom wanted to consolidate accounting, sales, and marketing information into an integrated system that would be easy to implement and run, and that could scale to support the company’s growth.

 

Solution

Inacom implemented a comprehensive, integrated solution using Microsoft® Business Solutions—Great Plains® and Microsoft CRM 1.2, both now part of Microsoft Dynamics.

 

Benefits

n  Accelerated business processes

n  More efficient work environment with familiar tools

n  Better decision making and reporting

n  Increases sales opportunities and better team collaboration

n  Strong foundation for business growth

 

 

 

“Now we can pull data together from numerous sources and display it in a consolidated, meaningful way. The value we’ve added to the process is phenomenal.”

Bryan Bechtoldt, Vice President of Information Management Systems, Inacom

 

 

 

As a business solutions provider, Inacom Information Systems focuses on technology consulting, education, and procurement. The company specializes in application development, network platforms, project management, security, storage, training, and the convergence of voice, data, and video. Inacom also provides ongoing service, sales training, and education for its clients. It needed a cost-effective, scalable information management system that would help enable its business teams to work more efficiently. It implemented Microsoft® Business Solutions–Great Plains® software and upgraded its customer relationship management (CRM) software to Microsoft CRM 1.2, both now part of Microsoft Dynamics. Inacom has greatly improved its accounting team’s productivity, and it has empowered its sales and management teams to excel by making comprehensive business information easy to access.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Situation

Inacom Information Systems provides consulting, planning, design, and implementation of client/server-based technology solutions. Of its 140 employees, 70 are specialized consultants. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, Inacom markets its services primarily to Wisconsin businesses and educational institutions, and sells its services internationally through a partnership.

 

In addition to consultative sales, Inacom provides comprehensive service and support after the sale, as well as ongoing training and education for its clients. As a growing business solutions and services provider, Inacom sought an affordable business management solution that would be easy to implement and maintain, allow the company to consolidate accounting, sales, and marketing information, and support the company’s changing business requirements.

 

Complex Financial and Business Management Needs

More specifically, Inacom was looking for a better way to manage its financial and sales information. The company used a dated SouthWare accounting system that did not meet the increasing demands of its accounting team. Inacom’s breadth of services was stretching its old system beyond what it could effectively handle:

n  The PC repair business, which includes parts and inventory, needs to be managed efficiently.

n  The procurement sales division sells hardware and must track rebate and warranty programs.

n  The training business has a unique pricing structure and includes subsets of services.

n  The special services business includes five distinct profit-and-loss areas requiring diligent financial control.

 

Additionally, Inacom needed to revise its electronic forms for reports and invoices. The company also wanted to have the ability to add written notes to reports.

 

Automation and Data Sharing Requirements

The accounting department had been spending too much time on basic financial management. Financial data needed laborious verification before further processing, and frequent system crashes had forced the company to resort to stopgap fixes to safeguard data. Inacom needed a much more automated accounting process. The company also needed to ensure that once information was in its system, it could be used by management and sales teams, as well as by accounting. Inacom also expected the business management solution to help improve employee efficiency companywide, and to easily integrate with Inacom’s existing Microsoft® CRM 1.0 as well as its Microsoft Office 2003 applications.

 

Solution

After evaluating the options of either updating its current accounting software or adopting Microsoft Business Solutions–Great Plains® software, Inacom chose to adopt Microsoft Great Plains. Simultaneously, the company upgraded to Microsoft CRM 1.2. Having established a strong relationship with Microsoft Gold Certified Business Partner I.B.I.S., which specializes in the sales and service of enterprise resource planning solutions as well as customer resource management, Inacom relied on I.B.I.S.’s expertise to help analyze needs and recommend the best course of action. Inacom’s selection of Microsoft solutions was based on a desire to achieve a quick implementation and to be able to easily upgrade and improve its new system.

 

Although the incorporation of Inacom’s array of business lines was somewhat challenging, I.B.I.S easily met Inacom’s requested “go live” date. The Microsoft Great Plains implementation, which included a number of customizations, was accomplished in only six weeks. At the same time, Inacom performed its upgrade to Microsoft CRM 1.2, and, with its new accounting database, synchronized its customer list, which now contains 2,400 accounts and 12,000 contacts.

 

“We have several business lines and were concerned that the migration of several sets of data while replacing our old system would be very difficult. It was an involved implementation,” says Bryan Bechtoldt, Inacom’s Vice President of Information Management Systems. “Nevertheless, the whole process went very smoothly.”

 

Inacom also integrated Microsoft Great Plains with its already-present Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database and business analytics software. The newly integrated

“We’re accessing information much more quickly now. I can tell you at midnight on the last day of the month what my earnings were for every one of my divisions.”

Bryan Bechtoldt, Vice President of Information Management Systems, Inacom

 

 

 
information system is being used companywide by management, sales and consultant teams, and financial managers. The financial management tools of Microsoft Great Plains, including general ledger, financial analysis, bank reconciliation, and sales order processing, are being used by 16 Inacom employees.

 

Benefits

The integration of Microsoft Great Plains and Microsoft CRM has delivered several key benefits to Inacom. It can understand its business opportunities better and can help its employees do their jobs more efficiently and profitably. The Microsoft solutions have enhanced Inacom’s ability to succeed by making it less challenging and more rewarding to offer its valuable services.


Accelerated, Automated Business Processes

Microsoft Great Plains helped enable Inacom to streamline its business processes by automating time-consuming manual procedures.  Sales orders are processed smoothly and more accurately. Bank reconciliation is quick and easy. Inacom’s accounting cycles are now much more efficiently managed, saving the company an estimated 1,000 hours and $25,000. Its year-end close exemplifies the time savings Inacom’s accounting team experienced. They were pleasantly surprised at how much more efficiently they could work. “Based on past experience, we thought we’d have to spend the entire weekend closing. But because the process was so well automated, we were done in five minutes,” says Jennifer Hanner, Office Development Specialist at Inacom.

 

More Efficient Work Environment with Familiar Tools

Inacom’s accounting department also works more efficiently because it can access and transmit information easily through familiar Microsoft applications. The accounting team uses Microsoft Office Word 2003 and Microsoft Office Excel® 2003 spreadsheet software to import such information as sales commissions and outside reporting service data into Microsoft Great Plains. The ability to quickly run a query, then export data to Excel 2003 is particularly useful to the Inacom team on a daily basis.

 

Like Microsoft Great Plains, Microsoft CRM has increased the efficiency of Inacom’s employees. Because Microsoft CRM integrates with Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 communication and collaboration client, Word 2003, and Excel, the sales staff can be more productive. “Our sales team is quite comfortable with the [Microsoft] CRM interface. They’re using it regularly, and we’re all looking forward to getting the upgrade. We’ve got some great ideas for more customization,” says Bechtoldt.

 

The interoperability of Microsoft CRM with Outlook 2003 helps Inacom’s sales staff to focus on selling, rather than data entry. Salespeople can organize their sales strategies at home or on the road, accessing Microsoft CRM through Outlook 2003 internally or on the Web. “Our salespeople can enter information just one time. It’s not necessary to create new information in each application; and wherever they are, they can get up-to-date information out of [Microsoft] CRM,” says Hanner.

 

Better Decision Making and Reporting

Inacom’s management team uses SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services daily to produce and manage more than 20 reports. “Now we can pull data together from numerous sources and display it in a consolidated, meaningful way,” says Bechtoldt. “The value we’ve added to the process is phenomenal.”

 

With advanced reporting capabilities and readily available, consolidated information, Inacom managers can respond to market trends quickly and make better strategic decisions. For example, Bechtoldt can see immediately at month’s end what orders have and have not been billed and delivered. He no longer has to wait 20 to 45 days, as he did

“Based on past experience, we thought we’d have to spend the entire weekend closing. But because the process was so well automated, we were done in five minutes.”

Jennifer Hanner, Office Development  Specialist, Inacom

 

 

 
in the past. “We’re accessing information much more quickly now. I can tell you at midnight on the last day of the month what my earnings were for every one of my divisions,” says Bechtoldt.

 

Increases Sales Opportunities and Better Team Collaboration

The integration of Microsoft Great Plains with Microsoft CRM also helps provide the opportunity for increased sales. Easy access to the customer database through Microsoft CRM and to sales and delivery information through Microsoft Great Plains helps enable Inacom’s sales team to target its marketing efforts more effectively. The integration provides more sales opportunities and offers more customer insight with the possibility of more profitable sales. Turnout at Inacom sponsored seminars has increased 50% as a result of targeted market made possible by the new system. “[Microsoft] CRM and [Microsoft] Great Plains together give us a way for our sales team to collaborate and share account information. It’s very exciting what we can do now. Our salespeople can review each other’s notes to see what products are or aren’t selling. It provides a real team environment for sales,” says Bechtoldt.

 

Strong Foundation for Business Growth

“We’re delighted with the capabilities the integration of Microsoft Great Plains and Microsoft CRM has delivered so far,” says Bechtoldt. “We’re really beginning to understand our business better and to react more quickly to market conditions.”

 

Bechtoldt looks forward to even better opportunity when Inacom’s scheduled upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 takes place. Microsoft CRM 3.0 will make it even easier for Inacom to customize the solution and help make its sales team even more effective. Through increased customization, Inacom can allow salespeople several ways to access account information. By using the marketing automation capabilities in Microsoft CRM 3.0, sales staff will be able to send and track bulk mail-merged e-mail messages, letters, and faxes. Microsoft CRM 3.0 also automatically tracks responses to such communications. “The ability to track who’s been contacted within the past 60 days, for instance, is critical. We don’t want any overexposure,” says Bechtoldt.

 

Inacom is taking advantage of Microsoft’s commitment to innovation by taking a step-by-step approach to improving its accounting processes. Microsoft Great Plains and Microsoft CRM 1.2 allow Inacom to plan improvements and add them when they are affordable and appropriate. Among the company’s other plans are better marketing and sales campaign and expense tracking by using the Project Management module, migrating customer data from proprietary systems, and developing forms so that salespeople can further organize information. “[Microsoft] CRM is a very rich environment for us. And because we know it works well with [Microsoft] Great Plains, integrates easily with third-party applications, and is so well supported, we’re confident both systems will support our growing business in the years to come,” says Bechtoldt.


Text Box: Software and Services
n	Microsoft Dynamics
−	Microsoft CRM 1.2
−	Microsoft Business Solutions–Great Plains
n	Microsoft Windows Server System™
−	Microsoft SQL Server 2000	n	Microsoft Office System
−	Microsoft Office Excel 2003
−	Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
−	Microsoft Office Word 2003

Partner
n	I.B.I.S.

© 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Microsoft, Excel, Great Plains, Microsoft Dynamics, the Microsoft Dynamics logo, Outlook, and Windows Server System are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

 

Document published March 2006

 

 

 

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: www.microsoft.com

 

For more information about I.B.I.S. products and services, call (770) 368-4000 or visit the Web site at: www.ibisinc.com

 

For more information about Inacom Information Systems products and services, call (608) 661-7700 or visit the Web site at:
www.inacom.com

 

 
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. 

 

For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to:

www.microsoft.com/dynamics