Better business decisions, enhanced communication, and more staff time spent with students resulted in reconfiguring the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system
FareStart is a Seattle-based culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. It provides opportunities for nearly 7,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving more than 6 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.

Getting more from a CRM investment
FareStart implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, but the system did not support the organization’s business processes as expected. Specifically, FareStart instructors could not easily view a student’s activities throughout his/her learning program; rather, the system only generated reports based on student status and displayed results in aggregate showcasing student activity from a single point in time. As a result, FareStart instructors spent considerable time obtaining required information and worked “around” the Dynamics system by maintaining data in multiple spreadsheets.

FareStart sought to reduce manual effort and free up time for greater staff student interaction by enabling the
system to produce:

  • Student data that enables better support throughout an individual’s participation in the program—from application to six months following job placement
  • Enhanced metrics for compliance reporting—including output metrics such as number of applicants and
    referral sources; outcome metrics such as wage progression and housing upgrades; and program and staff efficiency metrics such as program retention rates

More than just CRM expertise
For assistance, FareStart turned to West Monroe Partners, which offered extensive Dynamics CRM expertise. Just as important, West Monroe communicated with key stakeholders in a non-technical way and demonstrated willingness to understand FareStart’s unique processes and develop a solution that met the organization’s business needs.

Configured for requirements
The West Monroe team observed FareStart’s processes for tracking information and asked questions about
expectations and information needs. From this analysis, it was apparent that the system was configured to focus on programs rather than on students.

After working with FareStart to improve information flow, West Monroe Partners then reconfigured the Dynamics
application, including:

  • Updating report-creation functions to pull data more efficiently
  • Producing metrics that FareStart previously could not track, such as job retention and housing progression
  • Creating custom workflows with triggers for specific events that update data automatically and ensure visibility of and action related to next steps

Better information, greater value
FareStart realized many benefits from working with West Monroe Partners to reconfigure its Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 system—from enhanced communication to greater efficiency. Most importantly, the system enables
staff to spend more time with students and, as a result, supports FareStart in delivering valuable service to its community:

  • 229 students enrolled in 2013
  • 55-60% program retention rate and 110 graduates in 2013
  • 90% graduate job placement
  • Six-month job retention rate of 80%
  • 70-80% of students moved from the street or an emergency shelter to long-term housing