Crimson Consultants: CRM of the Crop

Conference hears of CRM impact at the University of South Wales, writes Simon Fry

Crimson Consultants is a consultancy and development company specialising in assisting universities implement Microsoft Dynamics customer relationship management (CRM.) When the company was invited to recommend a client to present to November’s UCISA Corporate Information Systems Group conference, Ioan Evans, director of student recruitment at the University of South Wales (USW) was a natural choice. The University has worked with Crimson for around seven years, and in the last 24 months has been upgrading their CRM system with Crimson’s input. 

Ioan’s presentation, entitled: ‘Making a Success of CRM’, covered many issues. “Universities face an increasingly competitive climate when recruiting students, with rising costs and greater focus on student satisfaction. There is a need to communicate effectively with them, from the enquiry stage onwards. Measuring the success of CRM is not just by how many students are recruited, but also by brand value, social media rankings and perceptions of prospective students and their parents. We have carried out a three-phase development with Crimson – it was not a case of buying a product off the shelf, plugging it in and off you went. There was an element of upgrade as we had existing CRM capability but on a number of levels it was limited. Our requirement was not just for an IT product, we also reviewed our business processes and examined our culture and working practices.”

The existing CRM system was based on an earlier version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Crimson Consultants was engaged to upgrade this to the latest 2015 version, introduce its range of HE-specific functional accelerators and move the system into the Cloud. “When talking to Crimson about the AS IS position and the TO BE solution it was clear they had an understanding of our requirements. 

They hit the mark for us.”

Microsoft Dynamics is a world-leading CRM system providing rich, generic functionality but its degree of fit with the specific requirements of most individual businesses is about 60%. For good user adoption, the functional fit should be closer to 100% and, although this can be achieved by configuration and customisation of the core system, it is time-consuming and expensive for a customer to undertake.

The Crimson Dynamics solution builds on Microsoft Dynamics CRM to achieve this close functional fit by means of its pre-built accelerators, which deliver sector and application-specific functionality ‘out-of-the-box’ together with a consultative implementation process known as Crimson Fusion. For example, the Student Recruitment Accelerator provides specific functionality in CRM to create a student record within which enquiries can be recorded together with subsequent applications and enrolments, whether these are captured directly in CRM or via integration with a university’s record system. In USW’s case, Ioan is delighted with the results of working with Crimson and anticipates great functionality ahead. “It has moved us to a single source of truth in organising and managing our potential student enquiries, making us much more able to integrate our marketing and communications effort. 

“In October’s early experience survey for new starters at USW campuses, 96% said they were happy with their contact with the university prior to arrival. This would be due to multiple factors but CRM has played a part. A benefits realisation assessment we conducted identified in the future there will be technological, customer behavioural and sectoral changes requiring universities to look at CRM more regularly. What we have installed is not the start-and-end but an agile system which can develop – we need to be fleet-of-foot and responsive.” 

As for Ioan’s presentation, it went well.  “Given it was quite a technical conference I arrived slightly unnerved – given I’m not technical! I was grateful for the opportunity and pleased to receive the response I did, shown by the audience’s questions and level of interest. They were responsive and understood the challenges, which was great.”


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