ASK Europe Plc is a global organisational development consultancy that provides customised management and leadership solutions. Services include executive coaching, leadership development and workshop driven events that help companies to improve workplace performance. Established in 1994, ASK Europe now have 16 employees and work with over 200 associates worldwide.
ASK Europe Plc had been using Goldmine, an on-premise CRM solution, for more than 10 years. When it was first implemented, Goldmine met the needs of the business but the ASK Europe employees began to feel that it was too antiquated to meet their needs as their business processes changed and developed in line with today’s business environment.
Diane Fenner, Business Systems Manager at ASK Europe Plc, explains, “As our company evolved over time, Goldmine failed to meet our needs on three levels. Firstly, email marketing was an issue because we needed integration with MailChimp. Secondly, we were looking for functionality that could automatically synchronise contacts, meetings and emails in Microsoft Outlook with our CRM system. Thirdly, remote access was important to us as our sales team works on the road, therefore, we needed a cloud-based CRM system rather than an offline, on-premise solution.”
Diane found Workbooks whilst she was doing research on a comparison site. She was given an online demo and was sold on the solution from that point onwards.
Diane said, “Not only could the Workbooks system solve the three problems that we were experiencing with Goldmine, but it also offered us a solution that would be able to adapt and grow to meet our needs in the future. Having gone from one CRM that had become dated and unable to meet our requirements, we wanted to go with a long term solution that could grow and change along with our business. What I loved about Workbooks is that you can just start using it ‘out of the box’ but it also very customisable and flexible.”
She continued, “We really liked the fact that it is a hosted solution, so there is no need to invest in hardware and it provides business continuity because we can access the system anywhere we have internet access.”
Diane did look at other solutions, but felt that Workbooks offered the whole package. “We looked at Microsoft Dynamics, but the implementation was very costly. With Workbooks it was a real bonus that even with all the functionality we were getting, we didn’t have to spend a fortune on the license or the implementation.”
She goes on to say, “Sage would have given us Act! for free but it wasn’t a hosted solution, it felt very antiquated and it really didn’t have the functionality that we needed. For instance, it wouldn’t handle multiple currencies, whereas Workbooks offers a multi-currency extension as part of our licence.”
Diane’s team liked the fact that they could buy directly from Workbooks. “In my experience, having to work through a reseller can be tricky as it is often very difficult to get hold of someone,“ says Diane, “It was comforting to know that we are working directly with the Workbooks team on our project and that we could go to them directly for support. We also liked the fact that Workbooks are a local, friendly vendor who we felt we could trust.”
Diane has extensive experience of CRM implementations and she was very impressed by how quickly she was able to get the ASK Europe employees comfortable with using the system. The training was tailored based on job function so that employees were only trained on the specific functionality that they would be using. She remarks, “Feedback has been universally good. Even people who had previously been adverse to change have been very positive about Workbooks. In particular, our operations team, who were initially reluctant about having to learn a new system whilst keeping on top of their busy workload, were very impressed with how easy it was to start using the system and how quickly they could get value from it. They first thing they told me is that it will save them so much time”
Diane went on to say, “Having implemented CRM for so many years, this has been the easiest implementation with the best responses. Normally, implementing is a nightmare for a project manager but not only was the process smooth and well-planned, we didn’t need to buy any expensive tools to help us with exporting/importing our data, which I was quoted for on some of the other CRM systems we were looking at.”
ASK Europe use Workbooks to manage their sales pipeline, contacts, clients and organisations. They are also able to use it as a revenue schedule, in other words, to track what they have sold and when they will receive the money.
The company manages hundreds of associates around the world and custom fields in Workbooks allow ASK Europe to record a wide range of data about each associate, making it easier to search the database and find an associate who meets a specific set of criteria.
Diane also uses Workbooks to manage the holiday system at ASK Europe. “Previously we used a spreadsheet and it was a labour intensive process. Now, we have a customised meeting type in Workbooks for holidays with a template email that employees can send out as a holiday request.” says Diane, “It is now really easy for employees to apply for annual leave and it takes no time at all to run a report on the holiday that has been taken. It has removed a lot of manual work and given us more time to focus on other parts of the business. All of this has been made possible because of the ability to customise the Workbooks system.”
“The reports are a delight to create!” says Diane, “It is so easy that I have been able to teach staff how to create their own reports rather than having them rely on me to not only write the reports but also run them. This means that people can get access to information quickly and easily and so aid business discussions and business decisions.”
The fact that Workbooks offers email marketing and campaign management is a big win for ASK Europe. “This will really transform our marketing,” says Diane, “It enables us to manage the whole email process and create better content.”
Workbooks allows ASK Europe to restrict access to certain information in any given record through customisable views. Whilst management might be able to see certain data in an organisation, other employees can be restricted from seeing it by creating a separate ‘view’ for them that hides that information.
“The customisable views in Workbooks are really useful," says Diane, "Knowing that we can restrict access to the more sensitive information in the system has given us the confidence and ability to have more information documented in our CRM system than ever before. For instance, we have added a field to opportunities to allow us to record the potential value of a sale (as discrete from the sales forecast) in the early stages of the sales process. The view that includes this field is only visible to our sales staff, not the rest of the business so they can feel confident to record this information but it will not be misused by other staff. As a result, we can better manage and report on our sales pipeline."
A common theme in the feedback from employees at ASK Europe is that Workbooks has saved them a significant amount of time in their day-to-day work. An example of this is the use of opportunities to create the ASK Europe revenue forecasts. Diane explains, “Our operations managers have to manage this process. They were extremely impressed with how quick and easy it is to add the data, and also the clarity provided by the organisation of the data. Adding new information into Workbooks showed where we had made an error in our previous CRM. In addition this will save us many hours of administration each month. Each operations manager will be able to save about 1 day per month – we have 5 operations managers so that is 5 days saved each month.”
Diane has been thrilled with the results of their CRM project. “I would thoroughly recommend Workbooks,” she says, “It has met every requirement and everything that we were promised in the sales process has been delivered plus more, which is unusual in my experience of sales of software. Within only a few weeks, we got the wins we were hoping for and we’ve also come across numerous other wins that we hadn’t thought of.”
“It is software designed for end-users to get on and use it and customise it. That is the big difference between Workbooks and Act! and Microsoft Dynamics, with Workbooks I can just get on and use it.” Diane adds