Successful digital transformation isn’t a destination – it’s a journey, as finance business FlexiGroup has discovered. But it’s a journey with rewards at every stage.
FlexiGroup works with 60,000 merchants, retail and online partners such as Harvey Norman, Flight Centre, JB Hi-Fi and Michael Hill to provide finance to their customers.
A key process for FlexiGroup is accreditation where it confirms the relationship with the merchant. Traditionally this involved a series of manual processes conducted by different teams in different locations who relied on email to alert one another. Delays arose, errors crept in – setting up a store could take weeks – by which stage the store may have lost interest or signed with a competitor.
The company had attempted to overhaul CRM in the past, with vendors shoehorning systems into the company without properly understanding the processes. Lacklustre results prompted FlexiGroup to take a different approach – to map its processes and then incrementally inject technology to expedite those processes.
Transformation would be effected one step at a time. If something didn’t work as expected there was the chance to pivot away and try something else.
But taking that approach means having robust foundations and strong integration allowing a more plug and play approach to transformation.
The first step saw FlexiGroup deploy PowerApps, Azure, ClickDimensions and SharePoint. There was an impact; store set ups took 15 minutes instead of 45 and documents were back in ten days rather than 15.
More recently FlexiGroup has rolled out Dynamics 365, 365 Notify and automation across marketing which have delivered even more significant benefits. Processes that once took 9 weeks are now taking 2 weeks – a 72 per cent improvement.
FlexiGroup’s not done yet – with Dynamics 365 as the foundation platform it has access to a huge array of third-party solutions that provide specific functionality – such as 365 Notify which allows instant notifications when key information is available. This has stripped away the risk of an email between employees being overlooked and injecting delay into a process – now, for actions needing an immediate response, a notification is issued real-time and acted on.
Dynamics 365 is also the foundation for further transformation – FlexiGroup for example is exploring how it might infuse artificial intelligence to make the process even smarter and is looking to integrate with LinkedIn to bring more data into the mix.
FlexiGroup business architect Brad Rudduck explains that the solution has also created the opportunity to alter business processes and in turn generate significant wins for the company. “We put a profitability indicator on our quotes, in our commercial business, which basically tells the user, when they create a quote, how profitable it is, and if it doesn’t hit a minimum threshold, it triggers approval workflows. And that radically changed the profitability of the quotes that we were writing, literally overnight. Microsoft’s platform enabled this simple data visualisation with plug and play components.”
“We’ve also got examples of where we’ve used Logic Apps to automate fulfilment, where a customer might go through a ClickDimensions marketing campaign, they might qualify to get a cash back on their credit card, and we’ve then used a Logic App to take that fulfilment, package and send it to a 3rd party API, process the result and update the record to show it’s processed. And Logic Apps means we can deliver this solution in days, not weeks or months.”
“So now all of a sudden we’ve got the ability to demonstrate end to end, closed loop processing, so the business user knows whether it’s worked, what happened to it, how to trace it.” This means we can empower our users like Jem Corden and his Internal Sales team. Now, our IT focus is about delivering the data, functionality and apps they need. They take this capability, and create solutions themselves to achieve their sales outcomes. The 72per cent improvement was achieved with this approach”.
The cloud-based platform also injects flexibility and mobility for staff who can now access CRM information when and where they want.
FlexiGroup has been a long-term Microsoft user with Windows as the base platform, Outlook and Exchange deployed for communications. The integration of Dynamics 365 and Outlook 365 which both run on Microsoft Azure opens the door to even more transformation journeys, says Rudduck.
“As soon as you take away the integration, you immediately speed up who can do it, how fast they can do it, and what they can achieve by doing it. You’re putting the control in the hands of the business user or a business analyst, rather than a developer.” It means, he says, that new solutions can be created on the fly and on demand, adding, “We’re spending all of our time building business solutions, rather than building infrastructure.”