Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Navantis from Toronto, Ontario

Describe the solution or service provided
As one of the top Microsoft partners in Canada, Navantis only decided to develop a CRM practice 3 years ago. Since that time we have grown from zero to $7.5 million in annual revenues for this aspect of our business. Navantis offers an integrated approach that combines business understanding, industry focus and deep technical expertise. “We are entirely focused on solutions and not a traditional out-of-the-box partner. We combine our custom development focus and create unique CRM industry solutions for customers. Whether it is Donor Management for not-for-profits, our Association Management solution Peopleworks®, our Conservation Demand Management CRM for Utilities or a custom configured solution, Navantis offers an integrated approach that combines business understanding, industry focus and deep technical expertise. We have successfully deployed CRM solutions to over 40 customers.” Kevin Oakes, VP CRM.

This submission profiles our project with one of the largest chemical distributors in North America. The client needed help modernizing an aging CRM solution. In order to improve efficiencies, reduce repetitive work, consolidate data and create dynamic business intelligence, the client needed a partner who could provide excellence in business strategy and processing along with superior skills implementing complex technologies and data migration. The client elected Navantis to navigate multiple and distinct lines of business, understand complex processes and eradicate duplicate data residing throughout the organization. The client is a charter member of the Canadian Association of Chemical Distributors and the leading specialty chemical distributor in Canada. They boast a proud history of providing premium quality chemical products and keen market intelligence with an enviable service ethic to brand name clients in food, plastics, adhesives and the oil industry. The client was running several distinct aging Lotus Notes solutions that had been highly customized and developed for individual lines of business (LOBs) in disparate databases. No longer supported and with valuable client data contained in several places across the organization, staff were often required to enter the same data several times. Finding information was even harder. This meant ineffective processes, lost productivity, employee frustration and difficulty obtaining reliable business insight. The client began the process of understanding the effort to migrate their Lotus Notes environment into a more agile, flexible and current CRM solution. They quickly realized that to get this project right, they needed to complete an in-depth requirements gathering that would address the many LOBs along with an extensive plan for data migration, training, and continuous support. Achieving stakeholder consensus would also be a critical success factor and very challenging. After reviewing other CRM solutions and solution providers, the client selected Navantis to deliver a state-of-the art CRM solution built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. A solution built specifically with future growth in mind. Certified CRM technology and business process experts at Navantis used their collaborative approach to understand the challenges, needs and goals that the client demanded to remain competitive and a leader in the industry. Using Dynamics CRM as the platform, Navantis addressed the unique elements required within each line of business. Ultimately, allowing the client to finally reach the “one record” mantra by combining all their data into a single integrated system. Navantis worked with the client through a series of live Proof of Concepts (POCs) during the process. POCs are important because they test that the rules, data migration, business logic and reporting requirements are sound prior to investing in a full-scale roll-out. Navantis helped the client’s team understand how to work more efficiently with the technology which eased user concerns and assisted in the adoption process. As users became familiar with the system and its intuitive nature, it was trusted that the data was sound and this helped improve user adoption. Now that everything is connected in an efficient and consumable way, the client has new insight into their business that was not available before. Deeper knowledge of company and customer activities has enabled the business to make more informed decisions and forecast in a more efficient and reliable manner.

What makes this solution original and innovative?
This was an end-to-end solution that changed the business focus of the client from a product-centric culture to a customer-centric culture. Prior to this implementation each division or line of business acted as a separate “mini-company”. Data was decentralized and customer information was not shared across the enterprise. There was no cross-team collaboration or strategy which was frustrating for customers who wanted to do business across multiple product lines. Information was often entered twice increasing needless time wasted and introducing higher potential for error. The cultural and political challenges for project success were as significant as the technology challenges. This project involved complex business rules and processes, data migration, integration to back-end systems, in parallel with a huge corporate shift from product-centric to customer-centric. In particular, this project: Consolidated multiple highly customized point CRM solutions onto a single CRM platform; Integrated the front-end CRM solution into the back-end ERP system; Changed the business focus and processes from a product-centric culture to a customer-centric culture – this meant a significant cultural shift within the organization; Eliminated double-entry for data; Improved security with SSO; Reduced the footprint with a virtualized environment. Mapping out all of the existing business processes from the multiple point solutions and then creating a Master Overlay Business Process Map was extremely complex but a necessary element so that no critical steps that any one LOB relied on would be missed once the old solutions were replaced by the new single CRM. This project dissolved the walls between the Lines of Business and switched the internal thinking so that a customer would now be viewed across its entire relationship with the client. This meant massive changes to business process, internal team dynamics, customer ownership and cross-team collaboration. There was significant internal resistance to the shift in thinking and success required a technology partner who could manage the politics and cultural changes as well as the technology challenges. In addition to replacing several customized point solutions sitting on Lotus Notes, the project required tight integration to the AS400 system running the client’s ERP so that their client financials could also be accessed seamlessly through executive dashboards or other interfaces such as smartphones. Navantis was honoured recently at the Microsoft World Partner Conference with a win for the best Pre-Sales Technical Specialist (Mark Aucoin) as well as a finalist (one of 3) for CRM implementation. There were over 3,000 submissions from around the globe competing for these awards.

What were the benefits to the customer’s sales, revenues, and/or efficiency? Provide measurable evidence.
Our client has completely shifted from product-focussed to client-focussed with this technology roll-out. As described earlier, this means that a client is viewed across the entire relationship that it has with the client – not as a separate entity with each product group. This simplifies how a customer buys or services product from the client. With all customer data unified across multiple LOBs, it is much simpler for a client to get answers from the right people, have problems addressed quickly and work seamlessly with cross-departmental account teams who understand the full impact of the client’s relationship with the customer. The client has realized: Improved reporting and levels of intelligence about the business; Eliminated redundant work processes; Automated many manual processes; Customized dashboards providing new perspectives and insights; Changed its culture from a product perspective to a customer focused perspective. As a result the client has: Reduced admin support and improved productivity by 25%; Created a connected and real time view of the business; Improved profitability through better management of time and data; Improved revenues through deeper insight into customer needs; Improved ability to plan and forecast for the future. The client has not publically released sales figures but has advised that revenues are improved because they have deeper insight into the customers’ needs overall. For example, a customer who has had a strong relationship and purchasing history in the speciality chemicals division can now be penetrated more successfully by other divisions such as plastics and adhesives because: Sales teams have visibility across the entire purchase history of a customer; Account planning is now accomplished as cross-functional teams rather than in silos; Teams can leverage strong relationships that have been built in one LOB to successfully grow business with the customer in other LOBs.

How did your organization achieve customer satisfaction and how was this demonstrated by the customer?
“Navantis provided expert guidance and support throughout this complex project. With multiple lines of business affected, there was a need to be extremely detailed and thorough in addressing a vast array of what appeared to be sometimes competing goals. By ensuring all of the business was represented, clarifying goals and responsibilities along with building a consensus-driven culture, we were able to rapidly move from design to POC to roll-out in record-time. User adoption is high and our clients are reaping the benefits of our ability to serve them better.” stated the client’s Vice President. “It’s my pleasure to recommend Mark Aucoin, Sales Technical Lead from Navantis. From our company’s perspective, Mark’s contribution to the pre-sales cycle was a key factor in us engaging them in the partnership. Mark displayed the unique ability of packaging together listening, observing, analyzing, assessing and solution mapping skills together with the product’s capabilities. He was also excellent at producing pointed and applicable demonstrations and solutions that we could see would benefit our business. Mark clearly understands the technology behind CRM and this enabled him to speak confidently, clearly and concisely on which technical functions could marry with our business functions. Mark was also an extremely responsive, professional and “can-do” type of representative that ensured timely and pertinent communication throughout the process. The Navantis proposal team was excellent and Mark was clearly a big part of their offering. Navantis regularly surveys its clients on their satisfaction with solutions they’ve provided. We recognize that delivering a great project-based solution is the start of an on-going partnership, and the key to maintaining that partnership is to ensure that we meet our customers particular needs, adapt existing technologies to suit their organizational challenges and provide long term strategic value. In order to effectively measure customer satisfaction, Navantis issue surveys to all of our clients. Surveys are distributed in regular intervals, ensuring that every client we provide services for has the opportunity to give feedback through our surveys. Results from our customer satisfaction program to date have been excellent. Since we implemented our CUSAT program in 2008, we issue over 100 surveys annually to our customers and have received a cumulative average score of 4.19/5. On the question of overall satisfaction the average is also very high (4.40/5), which indicates “Very Satisfied.” Navantis was recognized at a global level by Microsoft for this implementation. First as a finalist in the CRM category and second as having the top Pre-Sales Technical Specialist in the world, Mark Aucoin. 

Describe the benefits of this solution to your organization in terms of new skills, certifications, products, and services.
Navantis has 3 offices across Canada with 340 employees and growing. As a Microsoft partner since 1998, and a Microsoft Dynamics partner for 3 years, Navantis has bet its business on Microsoft solutions and partnership. Our focus is on strategy, design and technology to help mutual clients realize new opportunities and solve business challenges. As a user of CRM internally, it elevates every interaction Navantis has with our customers and we are able to share that experience as part of our sales engagements. Our CRM business has grown from $0 to $7.5m in 3 years. Navantis offers an integrated approach that combines business understanding, industry focus and deep technical expertise. Proudly, we have been recognized by Microsoft as the top Dynamics CRM Partner in Canada for two years running due to our strong customer advocacy and results and for the past two years have made it as one of three partners recognized at a global level.  Navantis has established new business focus areas within our CRM practice including Mobility and on-line. According to Gartner, over 450 million mobile devices will be shipped this year. That’s in addition to the 1.9 billion already in market. With faster network access, video options, BYOD demand and increased functionality, companies are betting on cellular applications to keep business moving. Our mobile CRM offerings extend applications to any device, providing role-based information to individuals who need it. We continually maintain our leadership in the CRM space by ensuring all of our staff remain current with the right certifications and Microsoft competencies. With 11 Gold and 15 Silver Microsoft competencies, we are uniquely positioned to build a full platform solution for customers all based on Microsoft technologies. We have growth trajectory that has been strong even through the difficult recessionary times. That is a testament to our talented team and their customers who have been retained year over year.

How did the solution improve your customer’s ability to serve its internal and external clients?
The business benefits to Navantis are clear – rapid growth from zero to $7.5 million in revenues in only three years. In terms of the benefits to the client, they have realized the successful adoption of a new customer-centric corporate cultural. This shift in behaviour has been enabled by the successful roll-out of enabling technology which has translated into improved efficiencies and higher revenues: As a result the client has: Reduced admin support and improved productivity by 25%; Created a connected and real time view of the business; Improved profitability through better management of time and data; Improved revenues through deeper insight into customer needs; Improved ability to plan and forecast for the future. Our internal re-alignment to create industry teams across verticals has enabled us to bring deep business acumen to every technology engagement. By leading with teams who have adopted the highest levels of technology certification and combine that with specific business expertise we are able to better scope and deliver projects that deliver business value. Our expansion into mobility means that we are able to offer our clients the best end-to-end solutions that comprise the latest thinking in technology innovation today.

How does the solution or service go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?
The team created several live POC’s during the initial phases of this project. Each POC was designed specifically for each line of business and used their terminology, data and business processes. This was a critical step in ensuring buy-in was achieved from each unique LOB at the outset. This varied from a more traditional approach of doing a single unified POC. By having each POC focus exclusively on the problems of each user group, trust and alignment to the project goals was gained across all divisions from the outset. User buy-in is a critical component of any new technology project. This project was exceptionally unique in that IT was driving corporate change across multiple lines of business. Each LOB was controlled by a Senior Vice President so buy-in across all of the product teams at senior levels was critical. Competing agendas and shifting of control meant that each member of the executive team had to be assured that their ability to influence and manage their business units would not be impacted. This required senior resources who understood business strategy, business process re-engineering as well as the subtleties of the undocumented power-bases and politics within the client environment. The ability to guide senior leadership teams to reach consensus throughout the life-cycle of this project was a critical factor in project success.

How does the solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?
The founder of our client was an avid conservationist and the company has always been conscientious about making choices that are good for both the business and the environment. Their website chronicles several initiatives that they have spear-headed across the years. This solution reduced the number of servers required by consolidating multiple point solutions onto a single virtualized environment reducing power and energy requirements. Dashboards that can be accessed from any device reduced the need to print out reports on paper – business intelligence is available online at a glance.

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