When SOL began to outgrow its old CRM system, it became clear that it was time to update the company’s invoicing and CRM with a modern platform. In cooperation with Digia, SOL built a solution tailored to the company’s needs, with which it has been able to successfully improve the efficiency of its invoicing process. The Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform proved surprisingly versatile and allows for further development of the company’s processes in the future.
SOL, which operates in the service industry, has several lines of business, including cleaning, security, property rental, staffing and laundry. The invoicing and CRM systems are used regularly by approximately 400 people, of which 350 work in invoicing and 50 in sales. As the team grew, it became clear that the old Cobol solution from the nineties was no longer up to the task. When the company’s staff member responsible for Cobol declared their intention to retire, updating invoicing and CRM to a more modern solution became a timely concern.
“In addition to decommissioning the old technology in a controlled manner, the goal of the new system was also to improve the company’s ability to respond to data quality challenges, improve the user experience and allow for more diverse reporting. Additionally, the new system needed to be adaptable to unanticipated use cases,” explains Joni Westman, who is responsible for SOL’s information management.
SOL began the task of implementing a new system in cooperation with Digia. According to CEO Jussi Holopainen, several factors played into the choice of partner, but reference customers were of the greatest importance.
“Digia had completed projects for companies that were relevant from our perspective.”
With the new system, the number of invoicing errors has gone down, and the teams’ actions are internally more transparent, which improves cooperation between them. Overall, the time spent on invoicing has been reduced, freeing up more time for customer work in the field.
Anne Laurila, System Administrator responsible for invoicing, SOL
From needs assessment to a tailored solution
The project was carried out in sections, the first of which was finding a solution for CRM, contract management and invoicing, followed by the needs of sales. Experts from various departments, such as sales, finance, business and information management, were involved in needs assessment. Additionally, the project’s key personnel were present at all meetings to ensure that all relevant considerations were taken into account.
“The core project team fluctuated in size from five to ten people, depending on which stage we were in. Cooperation between the different teams went smoothly, and issues were resolved quickly as they came up,” Westman says.
In the early stages of the project, time was spent analysing the old system and performing needs mapping. Through this process, the company arrived at a partially tailored system for invoicing.
For the technical solution, a combination of a tailored solution based on Node.js, which operates on the Microsoft 365 cloud platform Microsoft Azure, and Azure Logic Apps integrations was selected. Invoicing is performed in the tailored system, and customer data and the sales process are on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform.
“We arrived at a tailored solution even though it would require more work and testing than an off-the-shelf solution. However, invoicing is now working as we wanted it to,” Westman says.
Efficiency and transparency for internal processes
The new system was adopted in two stages in January and September 2020. Additionally, different departments have been transitioned to the new system, which is now in use across the organisation, with the exception of laundry services.
The deployment of the system went as planned and did not have a disruptive effect on the company’s sales or cash flow. Users were offered training in all channels – online, face-to-face and in Teams – and written instructions were also made available.
“I don’t know if you can ever have too much training in these situations, and we could likely have offered even more, but deployment has generally gone according to plan,” says system administrator and person in charge of invoicing, Anne Laurila.
Though the new invoicing and CRM system has only been in use for a short time, according to Laurila, it has already made invoicing more efficient. The number of invoicing errors has gone down, and the teams’ actions are internally more transparent, which improves cooperation between them. Overall, the time spent on invoicing has been reduced, freeing up more time for customer work in the field.
“Of course, we still need use, use and more use before we can get everything out of the system, which will certainly lead to us examining our internal processes and their possible further development,” Laurila concludes.
The versatility of the platform was a surprise
When it comes to system development, Westman explains that the platform consisting of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform offered the greatest benefits of anything in the project. The company was not initially fully aware of the versatility and possibilities of the system, which have only developed further since the commencement of the project. They have been positively surprised.
The easy integration of Microsoft Power Platform and the Dynamics 365 platform allows for new functionalities to be implemented without difficulty. SOL has also developed a logistics application as part of the same overall system, and the objective is to develop the system further in the future.
“The project has officially ended, but the journey continues. Now, we are a customer of Digia’s continuous services and we intend to develop the system further in the future according to our business needs,” Westman says.