Huntingdonshire ditches CRM shared service with Cambridgeshire

By Sooraj Shah
04 Jan 2013 View Comments
A call centre worker

Huntingdonshire District Council is to switch from enterprise software vendor Aptean's Onyx CRM solution to Microsoft Dynamics and Optevia Local Government Essentials (OLGE) to cut costs.

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The council had shared the Onyx CRM platform under an arrangement with Cambridgeshire County Council since 2005.

But as the agreement was due to expire in December 2012, the council started to seek alternatives last year.

"We needed to look at future requirements, so we started a formal procurement process. As it happens, Onyx did not bid through the procurement process," Matt Hinton, information management division (IMD) projects and business analysis team leader at the council told Computing.

Hinton said that there were several big-name public sector CRM providers who bid, but that the proposal from Optevia – a Microsoft partner – stood out.

"Optevia is a Microsoft partner and its whole offering is based on the Dynamics platform, which it has tailored and enhanced for local government. We picked it as it is a Microsoft product, so we knew there was a huge user base. In terms of how we wanted to support it there was a lot of flexibility; we like the fact that it is geared to develop and configure yourself," he said.

"Another advantage is that there are so many users out there who are skilled in using Dynamics and developing it. We could also support it ourselves by skilling up our own people to use the system. As we are a Microsoft house, its integration with other products within our infrastructure is also a benefit," he added.

Costs were a major deciding factor, said Hinton, but added that the process was not driven by the council feeling that it was paying too much for Onyx's CRM product or that it needed to look at ways of saving money.

"The fact that we've identified a big cost saving is a huge bonus. We'll definitely be saving more in comparison to what we currently pay in terms of licences and costs. We are aiming to save around £200,000 over a five-year period in the direct and associated costs of the system against our current [Onyx] system," Hinton said.

The project leader insisted that the new solution would be quicker and more efficient than the Onyx solution, and also offer a greater level of integration.

"The system will also be used by a number of back-office departments as well. At the moment our CRM system is predominantly used by our call centre, and the back office is using different non-integrated systems, on the whole. 

"But we're going to be rolling out Optevia to certain parts of our back office as well, which means we'll have both front- and back-office teams using the same system without the need to translate entries," he said.

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