Stellar wanted to consolidate its core IT and data systems onto a single platform that would enable it to boost operational effectiveness and gain a 360-degree view of the business.
“Over the years a variety of independent systems, supporting front and back of house elements of the business, had been implemented. All these disparate systems created silos that made it difficult to access data efficiently. And that necessitated significant labour-intensive manual data input to ensure different parts of the business could collaborate and coordinate when supporting clients. All of which created operational inefficiencies that put service quality at risk,” explains Daryl Hine, Chief Operating Officer at Stellar Asset Management.
To ensure that Stellar’s IT infrastructure became an enabler, rather than an inhibitor, of competitive advantage and future innovation, Daryl Hine wanted to transform these fragmented systems by initiating a single powerful and fully unified platform that would bring everything together.
“Our goal was simple. Integrating data from our sales and marketing, client, and finance and office systems into a single repository would enable us to boost productivity and operational effectiveness. It would deliver a single view of the business that would enable us to drive improved customer interactions and deliver differentiated insights to our clients – using this intelligence to introduce future service innovations down the line.”
To make this vision a reality, the decision was taken to implement Microsoft Dynamics Core CRM together with Azure Cloud Services.
“Microsoft’s suite of products delivered all the functionality and future-proofing we were looking for. As a business that is constantly evolving, Microsoft’s solution gives us unlimited agility when it comes to adding new features and functionality into our environment,” Daryl Hine explains.
Making it happen, however, depended on finding the right implementation partner to design and deliver a solution built around the unique operational DNA of Stellar’s business units.
“Serversys came highly recommended by another firm we’ve worked closely with over the years,” says Daryl Hine. “Operating as we do in a highly regulated industry, we needed to be certain that the partner we selected had a strong track record where Microsoft CRM implementations are concerned – and a deep understanding of the finance industry.”
Creating a consolidated CRM, sales and customer service solution designed around the specific operational and data transparency needs of the business was just the start. Alongside delivering ‘joined up’ business value, Serversys needed to implement a robust and performant core design that could flex to support future new demands. After which, Serversys would need to engineer a flawless migration to the new platform.
“Failure was not an option,” says Daryl Hine. “We knew this was never going to be a simple ‘Microsoft out of the box’ type scenario. Fortunately, Serversys utilises an agile methodology that meant, following their detailed scoping sessions with each business unit, we were able to proceed in a highly collaborative way to define the initial wireframe architecture.”
This iterative development approach meant design changes could be quickly accommodated and detailed decisions on the next level of functionality assessed and verified. This enabled Stellar to adapt the framework, refining and evolving its vision with each revision.
“Serversys were incredibly flexible when it came to supporting all our change requests, and their deep understanding our business and operations meant that at times they were able to challenge our thinking in a highly constructive and productive way,” continues Daryl.
To optimise the development and design process, Serversys encouraged the active participation of subject matter experts from across the business. This ensured that critical processes and procedures were clearly articulated, understood and captured.
“Involving a wider group of staff in the project generated considerable buy-in and excitement among front-line users. Engaging fully with a wider group of staff meant we could collect real-world feedback and make value-add add modifications and customisations organically as we went along,” confirms Daryl.
Following a challenging and highly technical migration of huge volumes of very granular data to a live production environment, Stellar was finally able to reap the reward from months of hard work.
“It’s true to say that it’s changed the way we work. Users are very positive and we now have single sight of every client interaction across the business. This improved transparency has empowered our people to be more productive and transformed how they engage with clients. Plus, we’re now harnessing our new reporting capabilities to make better business decisions,” says Daryl Hine.
By eliminating historic data silos, Stellar has significantly reduced its data management burden and streamlined reporting. Today it takes just hours to undertake a portfolio evaluation that previously would have taken days and considerable effort to complete.
Aside from the anticipated productivity and performance gains, achieving a global grasp of its data has enabled Stellar to take advantage of tools that support more intelligent and data-driven decision making. “Achieving a single consolidated view of our portfolios means we can now undertake faster and more meaningful analysis of our portfolio. Using these insights we’re able to better support advisors and make changes that improve their customer journeys,” explains Daryl.
“We now have a foundational platform in place that both boosts organisational efficiencies and delivers the business intelligence and analytics we need to make smarter decisions for the future,” he continues.
Serversys’ technical expertise and extensive experience working with financial services organisations, for whom data security and compliance with regulations such as FCA and MiFID II is a must-have, proved a winning combination for Stellar.
“We needed to be confident that we worked with a partner that had experience in our sector, understood our strategic vision – and could deliver it,” affirms Daryl.
But it was Serversys’ collaborative mindset and approach that truly elevated the working relationship between the two organisations.
“They were incredibly transparent and very hands-on throughout the process. Alongside weekly project meetings that enabled fast and informed decision-making, they gave us access to smart project management tools that captured all the high level issues and focused us on the decisions we needed to consider.”
With everyone singing from the same song sheet, measurable, relevant and time-bound goals could be actioned and met. Which meant progress was sustained in a highly structured manner.
“This ultimately proved highly beneficial for us. Not only were we able to refine and evolve our vision in a controlled and highly collaborative way. We were able to combine our skills in a highly constructive way, without hampering timelines,” says Daryl Hine.
“Looking to the future, we’re confident that Serversys will help us build on our foundational platform as we push our vision forward. In the coming months we intend to take advantage of AI and predictive analytics to further enhance our internal and external decision-making processes and unlock value for our clients.”