Case Study

D365 Business Development & Apprenticeships


Lee Gibson

Head of Business Development and Projects

Myerscough College, Lancashire


Myerscough College is one of the UK’s largest providers of workplace learning in the land-based sector across five sites in the North West of England.

Lee Gibson heads up Business Development and Projects for the College and joined at a time when the College was looking to improve its record keeping and employer engagement processes which were hampered by an old system.

The College had been using a system for employer records which worked a bit like an Access database.  With limited user access across the College, staff would have to ask each other for information and there was no centralised way of storing and finding records. The whole system for managing their employer data was inefficient and frustrating and just not fit for purpose.

Lee was responsible for working with Active to implement their new CRM system.

The Challenges & Results

No central point of truth

With the old system, lots of employer records were just on paper, and accessing information about them was reliant on individuals and their employer relationships.  “If we lost those staff members, we lost those relationships. We were very much in the dark regarding employer responsiveness.” Says Lee.  Using D365 Business Development & Apprenticeships now means there is one central point of reference for any staff needing access to employer data and interactions. Everything is recorded to CRM and the current status and full history is there for anyone to see.

Messy data

A problem with their legacy system was that it contained lots of inaccurate data – data in the wrong fields, and many incomplete fields. There was no way of knowing which employers were current or historical.  Active worked with Lee and the team to work through thousands of records which were imported from the old system. A systematic use of mandatory entry fields in D365 means old and inaccurate records are gradually being removed from the system leaving clean useable and accurate data.


Previously, each department looked after their own employer data.  The Careers team for example, work with 400 employers which would have been siloed within their department.  Now all employer data is stored within the central CRM, meaning contact history is maintained and making ongoing contact easier.  For example, creating email lists specifically for the Careers team can be created and executed quickly and simply from within CRM without the need for manually sorting or exporting data.

Pipeline tracking

It’s important for Lee to be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of leads being generated. Lee used an inbound lead from a Premiership Football club to demonstrate to the senior leadership team how the initial interest is tracked on a timeline showing all communications with individuals and who’s dealing with what and when.

Bus Dev team were recording cross college referrals on a spread sheet which made it difficult to share with other teams – making it hard to track outcomes and qualify leads. Now they can just task directly from the CRM making the process simpler and more efficient.

“My business development advisers are absolutely loving it.” Says Lee. “It’s changing our working practices and making things a lot easier.  We get more out of this than we ever did from our old system”.

Proving return on investment

The College received funding to temporarily secure some new Business Development Advisors. Previously it would have been difficult to articulate the return on investment of these new staff members.  But the system pipeline tracking helped Lee to explicitly show their impact for the College, and as a result, the staff members have been made permanent.


Being able to report on employer engagement was key for the team, particularly for Ofsted auditing.

Active suggested creating fields which incorporating specific employer types for this purpose, which enables reports to be run to pinpoint those employers specifically.  Being able to segment and run the data in this way dramatically cuts down on staff time spent, otherwise manually sorting through employer lists.

“It’s changing our working practices and making things a lot easier.  We’ll get more out of this than we ever did from our old system”

Lee Gibson

Head of Business Development and Projects, Myerscough College

Working with Active

Like many Colleges Myercough are heavily reliant on Microsoft so a Dynamics system was immediately the preferred route, with the knowledge it would integrate easily with the rest of the College infrastructure. Lee and the team were impressed with the bespoke development of D365 Business Development & Apprenticeships as well as the support that Active were able to offer.

Dynamics for local government

Building the right system for the College

Active worked closely with Lee and the team to help them understand what they wanted, but also to get a better idea of what could be achieved using D365. Often Colleges who are newly onboard aren’t aware of just how flexible and adaptable it is. Active ascertained what each team required in term of specific fields and drop down menus and these were built in accordingly. “The implementation team gave us exactly what we asked for.” Comments Lee.

Regular meetings with Active took place to make changes along the way, helping to refine the system. For example adding ‘Guest Speaker’ to system as a contact type. “This allows us to record more easily who we have coming in to deliver talks. we would never have thought of doing this at the beginning, it just makes things easier.” Explains Lee.

For wider staff training, a sandbox (test) version of the system was supplied by Active for Lee to use to demonstrate how the system will work to each of his internal teams.  He finds this a very practical way of providing hands on training but also in helping himself learn more about the system capabilities. “I learned so much from actually doing the staff training and playing with the Sandbox” Lee adds “It’s so simple to use. If I can use it then anybody can!” he jokes.

The system is now widely used across the College by Business Development, Employer Services & apprenticeships, The WEx team, Careers and Data Management.

In the future

Looking ahead, D365 Business Development & Apprenticeships is continuing to evolve for the team at Myerscough. Lee was keen to iterate that until the system was in place, he hadn’t appreciated how much value it would deliver for them. “The system is just going to grow with us. It’s only when you get it, you realise what more it can do…” say Lee.

In future the College is likely to use CRM to do more business marketing such as running mailshots to employer lists “CRM will make that so easy for me to do.”

And for more in-depth reporting, Lee is keen to integrate D365 education with PowerBI in time.  As users of the powerful reporting tool already, the fact that it can be integrated with CRM will assist with more detailed reporting requirements as use of the CRM grows amongst the senior leadership team.

Project support

Strong and continuous support during implementation and beyond was key for Myerscough and they have been satisfied with how the working relationship is working. “I can’t fault the support we get from Active.  They’re very responsive”

So would Lee recommend D365 to other colleges?

“I’d say – go for it.  It’s a very easy to use system with lots of support during the build, implementation and after. “

More Case Studies