Case Study

D365 Business Development & Apprenticeships


Paul Rolfe

Associate Principal

Chichester College Group


The Chichester College Group (CCG) in West Sussex has a £110m turnover and 25,000 learners, making them one of the largest education providers in the UK.  They enrol 1000+ apprentices per year.

Paul Rolfe, Associate Principal, is responsible for employer engagement, marketing and commercial services across the seven colleges in the Group. 

Chichester College

The Challenges

As colleges have joined the Group, legacy CRM systems were also inherited and it was quickly apparent that these were not fit for purpose. Staff were keeping transient records using paper or Excel, prospect enquiries were being lost or misdirected and administrative processes were manual and unnecessarily slow.

The impact of this was being felt widely across the Group.

Poor customer experience

Lots of manual process can often result with a negative impact on customer experience due to the time take to respond to enquiries.

Lack of scalability

Manual processes mean a lack of scalability. For multi-site organisations such as CCG efficiency and scalability is critical, along with the ability for a system that changes and evolves with the changing needs of the organisation. Paper based trails and spreadsheets were not a sustainable solution for the rapidly growing business.

A frustrated workforce

Inefficiencies were creating frustrations for staff members. Simple processes, such as obtaining signatures for contracts, were being sent by post and took longer than necessary. Staff were feeling disempowered by unnecessary restrictions faced while trying to do their jobs.

The key requirement was a CRM system that could be customised, and developed over time, that was compatible with the rest of the College’s Microsoft environment.

“We found a system to really meet our needs. It’s really Important to have a platform that can develop and grow”

Paul Rolfe

Associate Principal, Chichester College Group

The solution – a system that evolves with you….

It was clear that a flexible system that will evolve as CCG grows was key. Dynamics 365 offers exceptional flexibility, offering a robust platform that can seamlessly adapt and evolve alongside changing business requirements.

Furthermore, the system is scalable, capable of accommodating growth without sacrificing performance or functionality. As CCG expands, they can easily add new users, modules, or customizations to meet evolving needs.

Following a tender process Active, and our solution D365 Education were chosen based on the features available and the need for compatibility with CCG’s Microsoft environment.  Quick start customisation was key, rather than a scratch build.

“It’s always something we are always amending, enhancing and questioning how to make things better. We found a system to really meet our needs. It’s really Important to have a platform that can develop and grow” says Paul.

Paul places great importance on being a champion of the system internally, and firmly believes in taking the time to design your own working processes, rather than letting old systems dictate your ways of working.

Paul ensured his staff were involved in developing the system requirements which were then realised by the team at Active. CCG staff are aware it’s their responsibility to suggest tweaks and enhancements. “If something is taking too long or it’s too hard, it generally means that we’re doing it wrong. We very much believe in continuing to develop the system” says Paul.

… with some key integrations

CCG were keen to work with Active to incorporate several new system integrations which have also bought significant benefits:

  • Adobe Sign has been a key investment for the Group, helping to speed up traditionally documentation processes.
  • PowerBI has given Paul’s team great flexibility and data visualisation, along with the ability to share key metrics widely across the Group. Active designed the Power BI dashboards around the objectives that Paul’s team wanted to track.


CCG initially began using D365 Education for their apprenticeships and employer engagement activities, and the system has been rolled out to all colleges in the Group. The results have been hugely impactful and positive.

  • Generated more revenue due to higher levels of responsiveness.
  • Significantly increased turnaround and processing of apprenticeship applications
  • Happier and more empowered team members – staff feel more in control of their workload because the system now gives them complete oversight of all processes.

Continuing the success… and the evolution

Bespoke functionality requested by the Chichester team and developed by Active has included:

  • A tool to automatically calculate and record prior learning of candidates
  • Development of ‘Apprentice interview records’
  • Development of ‘Change of employer records’

All of these have been encompassed by Active into their advanced Apprenticeships solution.

D365 Education is now also used by teams across CCG’s commercial businesses. “It’s been a very sound investment” adds Paul.

Paul stresses the constant evolution of the system is key to future success and is keen to develop its capabilities further, to identify gaps in the market and problem areas in the business so they can take swift responsive action.

Working with Active

Paul credits the working relationship with Active as one of the key reasons the project was and continues to be a success.  “We benefit from having a really strong relationship with Active. We do find the team really responsive and helpful.  It’s very much a true partnership” he says.

Holistic view

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