For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit: www.microsoft.com/resources/casestudies “I want my vendor to rely on me to execute and deliver its solutions. The Microsoft partner-centric business model is reassuring because our success is mutually dependent.”
Frank Lee, President, Workopia
When Workopia executives wanted to better address the customer relationship management (CRM) needs of smaller businesses, they turned to the Microsoft® Partner Program and Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM. Workopia took advantage of technical, strategic, sales, and marketing support from Microsoft to establish its new business model. As a result, Workopia has experienced 200 percent annual growth and revenues are expected to increase by even larger percentages in the coming years.
Founded in 2000, Workopia serves small and medium-size businesses with 5 to 100 employees throughout the United States, by deploying customer relationship management (CRM) systems. At its inception, Workopia partnered with Siebel, which offered CRM solutions that were more appropriate for organizations with 500 or more employees. “The Siebel product often was too big and complex for our target market,” notes Frank Lee, President of Workopia. “Most of the time, Siebel was much more than our customers wanted or needed, but the business climate in 2000 was such that companies were willing to spend, even if it wasn’t the perfect fit.”
After the dot-com bubble burst, smaller companies were no longer willing or able to commit the significant resources necessary to deploy a Siebel solution, so Workopia found itself exploring alternative business strategies. “We entered an experimental phase of our business, where we were looking for the right technology to bolster our revenues,” says Lee.
Workopia settled on selling a solution that was produced by an alliance between Siebel and Great Plains: Great Plains Siebel Front Office, which was aimed at smaller organizations. “We were experts in deploying Siebel, so moving to Great Plains Siebel Front Office made more sense than any of the other options,” recalls Lee. “But smaller businesses are our passion, and the product still didn’t perfectly suit our customers. We needed to find a better way to meet our customers’ needs.”
When Microsoft released a CRM solution in 2002, Workopia immediately joined the Microsoft® Partner Program. “Microsoft focused on the needs of businesses with 5 to 100 employees, making Microsoft technologies a good fit for our target market,” says Lee. “With Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM, we can implement affordable solutions that customers can actually use.”
Adds Lee, “Plus, Microsoft is known for being partner-centric, which makes a huge difference to a small company like Workopia. With other vendors, we had to compete against that vendor’s direct sales force. In contrast, Microsoft relies on us for sales. Microsoft provides the products—we deliver the service, so our customers can work with a fellow small business that understands their challenges and needs.”
For example, when RightNow Business Development Systems needed a scalable, flexible sales and account management solution for optimal team productivity, it turned to Workopia to implement Microsoft CRM. Workopia integrated the solution with the customer’s other Microsoft products and technologies. Says Michael Davis, Director of Sales and Marketing at RightNow, “We didn't want to change our business model to match predefined processes of CRM software. Microsoft CRM is very adaptable and offers us this flexibility.”
Adds Lee, “We had the technology and support from Microsoft to quickly deliver the right solution so that RightNow could keep focused on its business.”
As a Microsoft Certified Business Solutions Partner, Workopia takes advantage of technology training, “sneak previews” of new products, strategic planning, and targeted marketing. “Microsoft gives us a plan that addresses aspects of our business that we need to attend to, to be successful,” says Lee. “We invest in the technology and acquire the right skill sets; Microsoft provides the guidance to walk us through the process and helps prepare us for growth.”
Since joining the Microsoft Partner Program, Workopia has experienced rapid growth and an expanded customer base. In 2004 and 2005, the company’s managers saw revenues grow by approximately 200 percent annually, and they anticipate that this growth will continue over the next few years as Workopia reaches more of the 2.7 million small- and medium-size businesses in the United States.
Marketing support. “Microsoft provides us with everything we need to effectively reach our target market with only a few customizations on our part,” says Lee. “It’s almost a ‘franchise in a box’—if you follow the Microsoft partner routine, you’re going to be successful.”
Customer-facing opportunities. “As a Microsoft partner, we get access to customers that we might never meet on our own because the Microsoft reach is so much greater than that of a small business,” says Lee. “And when we have great CRM customer stories to tell, Microsoft highlights them, which gives us publicity that we could never generate on our own.”
Strategic guidance. “In addition to all the technology-related support, Microsoft helps us understand more about how to run a successful consulting practice. The company has a whole network of people who are there to help support our business,” says Lee.
On-site sales support. “There’s nothing better than face-to-face communication for building customer relationships,” says Lee. “Microsoft helps us build those trusted relationships by coming along on customer visits, lending us credibility, and increasing customer confidence.”
Trusted, affordable technology. “Microsoft CRM brings the advantages of CRM to smaller businesses that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to correctly implement and use [these solutions] to their full advantage,” says Lee. “Plus, our small business customers know that we’re bringing them trusted, proven technologies, which helps them feel more comfortable with their IT decisions.”