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A springboard to transformation with Dynamics CRM
Gymnastics NZ is the NSO (national sports organisation) responsible for the development, promotion, governance and leadership of gymnastics throughout New Zealand. This covers sports from artistic and rhythmic gymnastics to aerobics and trampoline.
The organisation has over 42,000 members and 184,000 casual participants drawn from 108 affiliated clubs, ranging from incorporated societies to charities and businesses. Some clubs have as few as 15 members, while the largest has around 2,500.
A legacy of old IT systems, substantial membership growth and the need for more streamlined and transparent processes set Gymnastics NZ on an eagerly anticipated journey to digital transformation.
Gymnastics NZ used what their Operations Manager, Andy Adams, described as “a labyrinth of isolated IT systems” to manage everything from membership data, training, events and invoicing. Their systems included a heavily customised Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, MYOB, Mailchimp and numerous Excel spreadsheets.
Each of the 108 clubs supplied quarterly membership updates to Gymnastics NZ on spreadsheets in a range of formats. The data had to be massaged into shape before uploading it into the NSO’s database. This complex task took internal admin two weeks every quarter to complete – a solid eight weeks a year. This resulted in a piecemeal approach for the Gymnastics NZ Finance Manager who could only issue invoices as each dataset was verified and drip-fed through the spreadsheet process.
An impressive 67% increase in membership over the last five years was exciting for Gymnastics NZ, but it came at a price. “The need for data cleansing grew substantially and our service delivery capability wasn’t improving,” says Adams. “We knew that automating the process of receiving membership data and invoicing was critical going forward, notwithstanding the need to drive insights from an ever-expanding data source.”
At the same time, Gymnastics NZ wanted to address the administration-heavy registration process for existing and aspiring coaches and judges. With no easily accessible ‘Directory’ anywhere, clubs and members alike had to contact Gymnastics NZ directly to identify existing and in-progress qualifications.
As well as maintaining current qualification records, the NSO takes bookings for their 100+ training courses per annum. Previously, members submitted their qualification details, training course enrolments and registrations for international events to Gymnastics NZ via a Google eForm. Unfortunately, as a security measure, Google eForms don’t automatically populate data. Which meant, for example, an athlete touring overseas 4-5 times a year still had to give their passport details every time they registered to compete. Frustrating. Gymnastics NZ staff too were slowed down by painful processes such as receiving the member data from Google, manually copying it into the main database, then generating and sending out invoices by hand.
Club purchases of certificates and other NSO collateral also involved a tedious combination of Google eForms, emails, spreadsheets and individually generated invoices.
To top it all off, Gymnastics NZ had $400,000 cut from a significant funding partner in 2016. It was a massive financial hit to an organisation turning over approximately $3 million a year.
Unsurprisingly, cost efficiencies and driving revenue became a sharper focus. The NSO wanted to reduce long-term IT costs by investing in a solution that would move expenditure away from external contractors and streamline their cost recovery process.
Critical to this process was building closer and more effective communication channels with their 42,000 members.
“We needed to communicate better with our members,” says Adams. “But because our data sat around in multiple non-integrated systems, it wasn’t possible. Much of the time, people just wouldn’t be aware of need-to-know information.“
“The administration inefficiencies and funding cut provided a significant impetus for identifying an integrated solution,” says Adams. “We needed to strip down our administration costs and drive up revenue, while reducing administration for our member clubs and gaining valuable insights.”
As well as an NSO system, Gymnastics NZ needed a reliable club management system to reduce the cumbersome administrative tasks that clubs encountered and to enable effective data management. A number of clubs were using a proven club management system, so a partnership between Fusion5, Gymnastics New Zealand and Friendly Manager was a logical solution to provide an integrated platform to meet a host of requirements and specifications.
Gymnastics NZ issued an RFP in early 2017, and over the course of the year took a close look at a range of options. They selected the latest version of Dynamics 365 as the solution and chose Fusion5 as their new partner, with a project start date of early 2018.
“We looked at bespoke as well as out-of-the-box solutions. Fusion5’s proposed solution already had a lot of the elements we needed for our NSO system. Dynamics 365 and Fusion5 came out on top when using a cost and functionality matrix and importantly, their support management approach. That really sealed the deal.”
Along with the requirement for integration with the third-party club management system, Gymnastics NZ decided that it was time to change from MYOB to Xero – so some serious teamwork and planning was needed. Fusion5 worked closely with Adams throughout the complex solution development and integration process.
“Fusion5 were great to work with,” says Adams. “We were sold from the outset on their approach, and that was a key reason why we chose them. They have a very sound methodology. We could understand the process and what the outcomes were going to be along the way. They took us on the journey with them and gave us the surety that we were in safe hands.”
Dynamics 365 is now at the hub of everything Gymnastics NZ does. The solution includes two portals (with a third one – for schools – to come). The first is a place where ‘tour’ members can update their personal and passport details and upload profile pictures. The system automatically highlights passport expiry dates to avert last-minute renewal panics. Adams says the ‘tour’ portal can support all 42,000 members, but they’re focusing on those it will most benefit first.
The second is the ‘club’ portal, where club administrators, coaches and judges register for courses, view qualifications, and search for suitable resources across all facets of gymnastics and club capability. It includes a newsfeed with all the latest sports information, and content is tagged and categorised, so it can be found quickly. The portal also provides access to the NSO’s e-commerce site. Members can place online orders for collateral and invoices are issued automatically.
Integrating the club membership system with the CRM means Gymnastics NZ’s membership data is now pushed through to Dynamics 365 every hour on the hour - so everything is live. They can create invoices automatically and effortlessly, based on exact membership numbers, and send them to their affiliates every quarter.
“The eight weeks this process used to take every year is now done and dusted in just four days,” says Adams. “It’s unbelievable. We can invoice more quickly too, so that helps our cashflow.”
MailChimp connects directly to the CRM, and Gymnastics NZ is now working to establish a communication cadence that will inform their members, but not overwhelm them.
To help Gymnastics NZ meet their compliance reporting, Fusion5 also integrated Microsoft Power BI with Dynamics 365.
“Power BI is a phenomenal tool,” says Adams. “We have massive reporting requirements to Sport New Zealand. We’re now the envy of all the other NSOs due to the speedy, high-value information we can get from our data without having to go near Excel. Fusion5 built us a report that shows our membership data using a wide range of variables – from sport, to date, to demographics, with the added value of measuring retention rates. It’s magnificent – the insights it provides enables us to support club delivery and to develop education and programme resources for enhancing our service level and offerings.”
The ability to accurately filter membership data also helps to precisely target members with relevant information and offers from Gymnastics NZ and its partners, with the added potential of generating revenue.
The project has transformed Gymnastics NZ, says Adams.
“It’s been huge. If we look back to our requirement to reduce the administrative overhead and load, we’ve done it. We needed to drive revenue. We’ve been able to do that. We needed to be able to communicate with our clubs and members. With our portals and MailChimp integration, we can do that too. Now it’s just a matter of overlaying our strategies and plans to match up with the vehicles and tools we have in our hands. It’s very exciting.”
As a charity, Gymnastics NZ made it very clear from the outset that keeping to the budget was critical.
“Everything Fusion5 did hit the nail on the head,” says a delighted Adams. “A lot of people say that IT projects are never finished on time or within budget, but we achieved both. So, kudos to Fusion5. Their project manager was exceptional. We monitored progress from week to week. We kept on top of the timeline and cost, even allowing for change requests, so our expectations were set and met. It was a completely transparent process and very successful.”
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