State Government Adapts CRM Platform to Roll-Out Efficient Law-Enforcement Tool

Published: August 19, 2013

About North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety

The North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety is responsible in part for investigating alcohol and lottery permit applicants. The department's processes and tools were paper-based and time-intensive, taking a week to complete a batch of inspections. After implementing Microsoft Dynamics® CRM, agent productivity for this task increased by 80 percent.

Business Situation

The North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety (CCPS) is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the state's citizens by reducing crime and enhancing public safety. Among its nine divisions is the Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE). ALE's 117 sworn agents enforce laws relating to alcoholic beverages, tobacco, controlled substances, and gambling.

Shrinking state revenues motivated the North Carolina General Assembly to implement programs to optimize the use of taxpayer dollars. To this end, the General Assembly required ALE to increase the productivity of its agents.

One of the main duties of ALE agents is to investigate entities that apply for, or hold, a permit to sell alcohol or lottery tickets. Annually, ALE is required to randomly inspect 5 percent of approximately 17,900 existing alcohol permit holders to ensure compliance with state laws. For all new license applications, this investigation and an onsite inspection is mandatory.

Historically, the investigation and reporting process relied on paper forms and spreadsheets. Agents would visit an applicant/licensee site, complete and record a paper investigation form, and then return to the office and manually enter the data into the ALE’s Web-based application.

"Agents were spending a week on the inspection process to complete a group of applications and random reviews," says Greg Jones, Chief Technology Officer for the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. "They are highly trained officers, and we wanted to substantially reduce the administrative burden our manual systems put upon them. We also needed to free them from their desks so that they could spend more time in the field doing their jobs."

Jones notes that the state's system was forms-based and lacked any workflow or relational-data tools. "That didn't work with the agents’ case-based system, and I came to the conclusion that a CRM solution would support that process model very well," Jones explains.

Solution

Jones established a number of requirements to evaluate customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. These requirements were needed so that the solution would mesh with the state’s existing processes.

"We needed a CRM system that could work offline and allow our agents to access database information, as well as collect and input inspection data into laptops to upload later,” says Jones. “We also needed the solution to be compatible with our .NET environment so that our IT staff could use development skills they already have. And we needed to host the CRM solution in house to safeguard sensitive information."

Based on these criteria, the evaluation team chose Microsoft Dynamics® CRM over Salesforce.com and Sugar CRM. “The solution was clearly the most adaptable to our environment,” recalls Jones. “We also felt that the intuitive interface would make transitioning easy for users.”

Working with Microsoft® Gold Certified partner Tribridge, the CCPS IT staff implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. They configured a number of custom entities to align with the state's case-based management processes. For example, contacts were deemed “subjects.” “We have over 30 custom entities that we’re using,” says Jones. “We have drop-down lists to make it faster for agents to fill out inspection reports. And we’ve established multiple relationships among data fields to optimize the value and use of our data.”

With the initial configuration complete, the development team integrated Microsoft Dynamics CRM with the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission's Web service application. The CRM solution pulls data from the Commission’s database every two hours and automated workflows route inspection assignments to the appropriate field office.

Today, 142 employees throughout the state's nine districts and headquarters location use the new application. State agents now have portable computers to perform investigations of alcohol and lottery permit applicants and license holders. Agents access the application, dubbed Case Records Management system, to complete and upload electronic inspection forms in the field.

Benefits

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation replaced the state’s paper-based management system with a tailored, relational, case-based solution. By leveraging the application’s native workflows, integration capabilities, and many-to-many relationship functionality, the state dramatically improved agents’ efficiency. "Microsoft Dynamics CRM delivers the offline use capability that alternative solutions we considered couldn't match," says Jones. "As a result, our agents are much more efficient in their duties."

Increased agent productivity by 80 percent.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation reduced the time to process a group of applications from five days to one. Managers attribute the significant productivity gain to the use of automated workflows that electronically process data from end to end. By remotely accessing the department’s virtual private network (VPN) to upload data, agents spend more time in the field completing investigations.

Flexible solution to match rapid government change.

The configurability of forms, entities, and workflows dramatically shortened the turnaround time to implement changes in government requirements and mandates. Managers note that they can turn around new ALE processes or legislative requirements in weeks versus months.

Economical development platform for future state applications.

The department’s IT team plans to use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform to develop additional tools for use by the ALE Internal Affairs section and civil servants managing grant applications. By leveraging the initial CRM investment and using existing resources to develop other applications in a .NET environment, managers will increase the speed of developing and managing new tools while reducing development costs.

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