Based on Magna IV Engineering's October 2015 interview with Microsoft, originally posted here, a customer success story.
Fast-growing electrical engineering company delivers service excellence using Microsoft Cloud for Business
In business for over thirty years, Magna IV Engineering provides electrical solutions for power, control, and lighting systems for clients including petrochemical plants, factories, warehouses, hospitals, ports, office towers, shopping malls, and utilities customers. They aim to inspire trust and a sense of wellbeing with their customers, a feeling they call “electrical confidence.” Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Office 365 help them to continue delivering reliable service as they grow.
Magna IV Engineering is focused on long-term success – for itself and for its clients. Magna IV staff provide technically sound, practical solutions that ensure their systems perform as designed, and operate safely and reliably. That approach to customer care ensures a strong base of long-term clients, and it has fueled the company’s growth across three continents.
Growth requires change
Recently, Magna IV more than doubled in size, growing from just under 100 people to nearly 250 employees, working in offices across Canada, in the United States, and in Chile. Magna IV found that its internal tools and related processes had to change so they could keep up with this expanded volume of business and the challenges inherent in having offices in several locations.
“Information was closely guarded in silos that people were reluctant to give up,” notes Jonathon Abel, IT Manager. “People spent a lot of time working on archiving emails and other data, and we spent a lot of time planning for that process,” he adds. Staffers were using pen and paper to track projects and to deliver quotes, and there were problems with tracking and accessing updates to documents and specs. As Andrew Skinner, Marketing Communications Manager and CRM Lead, explains, “We had a lot of information and no way to record it. We had individually-managed information storage solutions. We had bottlenecks, silos, and so much that was just not accessible.” Looking ahead, it became obvious to Abel and Skinner that the old methods and the tools that supported them would not be sustainable at their new, larger scale. To meet the demands of growth while retaining the core values and excellent service that created that growth, they sought solutions that would enhance the company’s strengths for the long term.
Already familiar with their in-house server running Microsoft Exchange, they sought to support their internal worldwide teams with a jump to the cloud, by shifting to Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online.
Stronger as a group with Dynamics CRM Online
Moving from an on premise Exchange server to Dynamics CRM Online was a big jump in technology that enabled a shift in company workflow. The transition to CRM Online was a “rip the Band Aid off” situation,” notes Abel. “We made the decision to grow our Dynamics CRM Online user base to include our teams company-wide,” says Skinner.
“Dynamics CRM Online has become our key tool for tracking and coordinating sales activities, sales effectiveness, and measuring leading indicators.”
While a number of early adopters jumped in to use it on their own, others benefitted from in-house training seminars and supporting materials (created with the help of OneNote!) that smoothed the transition, making training seamless and allowing people to quickly resume their focus on doing their own work, not on perpetually learning new tools. Says Skinner, “Overall, we had an inclusive approach, and we provided people options to participate in the changes, so they had a sense of ownership in the new tools and the new system.”
They were pleased that CRM Online integrated well with their existing workflows and with what they knew they would need to maintain service standards while keeping up with rapid growth. “Dynamics CRM Online allowed a smooth transition from existing manual systems. IT has significantly contributed to increased efficiency.
“It gave us a tool to organize our lives,”
says Skinner. “Before, we had a lot of information in each office, across three different countries, and no way to efficiently capture it all. We had individually-managed information storage solutions. We had bottlenecks, silos, and so much that was just not accessible. Now users are not depending on us to track their sales and marketing data; we have a centralized system that takes care of it.”
Seamless integration: Office 365 enhances efficiency
They were surprised by just how quickly and completely Office 365 integrated into their daily work life. “Now we refer to Office 365 as an IT staff member,” chuckles Abel. “It allows us to be more efficient without adding more personnel. We are more business-focused in our IT projects, rather than spending time maintaining our own IT tools. With Office 365, we keep forward momentum going, and we are able to deliver on par with large-scale businesses even though we are actually a medium-sized business.”
Each component adds value to processes and output - now Office 365 is a part of daily life at Magna IV. Especially for remote and mobile users, it provides a means to communicate with geographically distant co-workers, to capture project details and seamlessly share them with teams across all locations. For example, Skype for Business quickly displaced WebEx. “Inter-office instant messaging and video conferencing took off dramatically,” says Abel.”Magna IV has multiple sites in north and south America that include many mobile users. “The presence indicator alone makes a huge difference to our staff,” he explains. “We don’t have to rely solely on email to consult team members in other offices - we can use Skype for Business in real time, to see if someone is available right then and there. We can do video conferences from anywhere. It would have to be a special occasion to use WebEx. It wasn’t mobile; now we are not restricted to a certain conference room to share screens, to conduct a video conference, or to chat with someone in real time.”
SharePoint and OneNote replaced the use of file server to store and create operational documents and procedures manuals – an immediate benefit for people in the field using mobile devices. Says Abel,
“Office 365 makes it possible to automatically sync to the current version of the templates used in daily work, whether the user is in the field or in an office.
When people are collaborating on a document, like one of our OneNote user manuals that we keep on SharePoint, we can easily track the contribution from each person.” Yammer is also popular at Magna IV, and has become a peer-to-peer support tool, an efficient way to share best practices, and an internal knowledge base. “Yammer lets us capture expert knowledge, so when someone retires, their wisdom doesn’t retire with them,” notes Abel.
Progress and expectations
“It’s part of our culture now” says Abel of the Magna IV move to Microsoft solutions. “we hadn’t realized the need for any of it before we started using Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365. What is really great is when people, on their own, devise new ways to use the tools in their daily tasks. They have a sense of ownership about the new tools.”
The impact on the company’s culture and efficiency is palpable. Says Skinner, “We’ve taken human beings off the boring tasks that they used to hate but had to do, and now we let Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 handle those – freeing up people from mundane time-intensive tasks. Now they are available to do other things that add value to our company and support our customers.”
This new way of getting things done ensures that teams work more efficiently. Abel sums it up:
“Now people understand that we are stronger as a group, and we are united by the Microsoft solutions. We are no longer divided by the old, disparate tools and processes that encouraged bottlenecking and silos.”