Microsoft Dynamics Case Study: American Red Cross

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In 2001, the American Red Cross chapter in the Greater Cleveland decided they needed business efficiency software. Of all organizations, the American Red Cross certainly requires cost optimization. Funding for the non-profit organization can be scarce, especially when relying on donations in such a national economic state.

The Greater Cleveland chapter chose to update its ERP resources to Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 as part of a broader, long-term goal of lowering costs through technological advancement. The organization also chose to adopt Microsoft Dynamics CRM for volunteer and training management, to have a more efficient system in place for volunteer processing.

To set the new ERP and CRM systems in place, the Red Cross chapter worked with Microsoft partner CBIZ Technologies. The third party tech company has worked intimately with the American Red Cross for several years, and understood how to set up the business solutions in a way that made the most sense for the organization’s needs.

CBIZ Technologies produced an online portal to make accessing certain features of Microsoft Dynamics easier. “Not everyone needs to work with Microsoft Dynamics GP directly; they may only need to access a functionality specific to their role in the organization. With Microsoft Dynamics GP, we can keep our licensing costs to a minimum and affordably extend the reach of the system to more employees,” says Richard Hankins, CIO and Director of Administrative Services for the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland. “Roughly sixty percent of our staff can get everything they need without ever needing to log in to Microsoft Dynamics GP.”

Since the application of the new systems, efficiency has increased dramatically. The software has been easy to use because of its general similarity to other Microsoft Office programs. Collaboration and data sharing across different departments was made simple. “Because of the systems we have in place, the sales staff, the customer service staff, the finance department, and the fundraising department automatically begin working together once they start seeing data move from their desktop to everybody else’s desktop,” says Hankins. “All that data is available to them at any time they want if they have the correct permissions.”

Less time is spent on information organization, on IT support and troubleshooting. The lucid, automated applications give employees more freedom to focus on the organization’s more critical tasks, like training new volunteers.

The activities within the organization have become clearer, and are better regulated. Administrators are notified by email whenever employees are attempting tasks that require approval such as adding a vendor to the vendor database.

Communication between sales and shipping runs much more smoothly through Microsoft Dynamics automation. For example, after a salesperson has finalized an order, Microsoft Dynamics GP immediately sends a notification to the warehouse. This cuts down on paperwork and the hassle of communicating each new order from salesperson to warehouse employee. The use of Microsoft Dynamics GP is estimated to have cut lead times by as much as 40%.

Since the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics GP in 2001, the organization has reduced its paid staff from 115 employees to 55. The organization’s annual budget has increased from $7.5 million to $9 million. “We are doing the exact same amount of work, but we’re doing it smarter,” says Hankins. “Microsoft Dynamics GP has improved our operational efficiency tremendously.”

The Greater Cleveland Red Cross Chapter was able to accomplish its ultimate goal of returning its employees to the fundamental task of the organization: serving the community. Its success has brought attention from elsewhere in the national organization to Microsoft Dynamics. The chapter hails the business solution as a now essential operations tool and well worth the investment.

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