Live in the Time of Covid-19 

By Bluelight CRM, August 2020

Company Overview 

The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) is the agrisupply industry’s leading trade association. Formed in October 2003 by a merger of three trade associations, AIC has over 230 Members in the agrisupply trade and represents £8 billion turnover at farmgate. 

The trade association represents several sectors within the agrisupply industry including: Animal Feed; Crop Protection and Agronomy; Fertilisers; Grain and Oilseed; Seed. 

AIC works on behalf of its Members by lobbying policy makers and stakeholders; delivering information; providing Trade Assurance; and offering technical support. The Confederation aims to promote the benefits of modern commercial agriculture in the UK and support collaboration throughout the foodchain.  

AIC engaged with BLC initially in April 2019 with a requirement to replace the existing CRM as part of a wider project which would also include a new website. The implementation phase started in February 2020. 

The Challenge 

The project was a tale of two halves. At first the challenge was shaped by a deadline. The legacy technology estate was ageing both in terms of CRM and Web and the one member of staff who knew the systems well was retiring summer 2020. That was enough to focus minds on the imminent need for an upgradeThe other challenge at the start of the project was logistics. The large number of different organisations invested in the success of the project were spread across the world and the UK. AIC’s Project Manager worked remotely, the Technical Lead was in Canada, the Web Developers in London, AIC headquarters in Peterborough and BLC worked out of Birmingham and Kent. Meetings needed to be carefully co-ordinated and the comms scrupulously managed.  

Then came Covid-19. Midway through the project there were no longer six different locations to factor in; with everyone working from home there were suddenly 20! With face-to-face meetings an impossibility, Playbacks, Training, Data Migration Handovers, UAT all had to be delivered remotely 

The Approach 

Impossible to imagine before the pandemic,  but lockdown presented the Project Team with an opportunity to find ways to do things better. First, remote working helped the team to focus and gave people time to push the project forward. The dynamic use of video calls  meant it was possible to communicate more widely, and more flexibly. Meeting could be arranged at short notice. A wider range of stakeholders were available to attend and with less travel and more availability decisions could happen faster. This allowed the project to move into a more responsive way of operating.  

In addition, as many of the more formal elements of doing business – dressing up, business travel, meetings in conference rooms – fell away, so interactions became much more human. With everybody’s pets, kids and tweeting birds periodically invaded the traditional business space, relationships within the project became more relaxed, less determined by the traditional client / supplier relationship and instead built on the firmer foundation of genuine teamwork. 

The Outcome 

The CRM went live in July 2020, as planned, which allowed AIC to switch off legacy systemsWorking together collaboratively, all outcomes were achieved. 

Key outcomes included 

  • Detailed analysis of business requirements 
  • Dynamics CRM implementation  
  • Data migration from legacy CRM 
  • Finance integration with Xero 
  • Integration development ahead of new AIC Website being implemented 

The Benefits 

  • The CRM will give AIC a muchimproved overview of member engagement by having a complete 360degree view of interactions. This intelligence will allow AIC to gain an insight into their members’ needs and optimise engagement. 
  • AIC will be able to track member activities more effectively, for example through improved integration with the website, and use the insights gained to deliver improved value to members 
  • The CRM will be more fully embedded into the working culture and processes of AIC. With the old system one staff member acted as the conduit for all CRM related information. Now, everyone throughout the organisation has access to the information they need in the most effective format 
  • Improved automation means that the manual processes the AIC have to go through are vastly reduced, particularly around membership  processes like renewals. 

Quotes 

Bluelight were quick to respond to the changing project landscape as lockdown was imposed and with their support the project moved forward with renewed focus and momentum. We are thrilled to reach our Go Live milestone and look forward to reaping all the benefits of our new cuttingedge CRM. John Kelley, COO, AIC