Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Study: Dorset Mental Health Forum

As organisations grow, concerns often emerge about processing efficiency and reporting quality when current systems and working practices can't be adequately scaled.

Dorset Mental Health Forum implemented Dynamics 365 to help them develop greater consistency in handling its key workflows and gain clearer performance insight. They then turned to Preact to help them unlock more Dynamics 365 capabilities.


Dorset Mental Health Forum is a local peer run charity which exists to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness by promoting well being and recovery.

The Forum believes that people with lived experience of mental health problems have a wealth of specialist knowledge and expertise that can be utilised to improve the design and provision of local services.

In addition to its specialist projects across Dorset the charity also has a nationally recognised partnership with statutory NHS professionals to drive culture change in mental health services.

The Requirement

The Forum had expanded in its size and coverage but as its IT Business Support officer, Chris Jones explained this was creating some growing pains.

“We had various processes in place but as our organisation grew these were becoming increasingly unwieldy and creaking. In many instances, it was tricky to pin down some processes in sufficient detail which impacted the quality of our reporting. This was highly reliant on anecdotal data and as a result, we couldn’t be confident reports were fully reflecting reality.
We needed to centralise our data to improve our financial reporting that would ensure we respond to tender applications with accurate quoting detail.”

Several technology solutions were assessed and Chris explains why the Forum selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 as their Charity CRM system.

“I evaluated various products but as we were already using Microsoft Office 365, Dynamics 365 seemed to be natural fit and I was impressed by the product’s roadmap. With a regular cycle of updates there wouldn’t be any risk of our efforts being wasted.
We also found Dynamics 365 to be competitive priced. That proved especially so when Preact explained the capabilities of the Team Member licence. The majority of our 70 strong team have only light CRM usage needs and with the Team licence means we don’t pay additional cost for features that aren’t needed.”

The Results

An important process in the charity’s reporting was its handling of timesheets that are completed when project work is undertaken as Chris highlights.

“We track events throughout the duration of our projects as project tasks that feature actions such as preparation for workshops, delivering training courses and travel. This includes our advocacy service where we help people who are subject to the Mental Health Act have a voice, exercise their rights and develop self-advocacy.
Previously, time sheets were mainly paper based and with mixed quality they lacked consistency.
We receive around 50 new referrals each week and there was an urgent need to formalise these processes so that we could understand who enquired and move forward with these engagements.
By implementing Dynamics 365 we’ve been able to keep better track of all referrals and this has quickly resulted in us handling these with far more consistency. This has meant we have a better visibility of how time is spent and the true cost of these processes, especially to identify where additional time is being delivered.
In some instances, this proved to be a real eye opener and it greatly helped us refine these processes. For example, with the workshops we deliver, Dynamics 365 provides a history of what has happened across all our activities before and after these events.
Also, in our advocacy work reporting is now more transparent in covering these activities which include support services and attending meetings.
We are now using good quality data to improve our processes and it also means that we are providing better feedback to our clients, trustees and other stakeholders. At every level, with Dynamics 365 we are increasingly able to report clear outcomes which are supported by solid data at a minute level.”

After implementing Dynamics 365, Dorset Mental Health Forum partnered with Preact to help them further develop their system as Chris concludes.

“I initially deployed Dynamics and it quickly proved to be a brilliant resource. In terms of managing the system I’m self-taught and I found that since we started using Preact’s managed service we’ve been able to step up the pace of improvements and do more with Dynamics 365.
On a regular basis, I’ll schedule a call with our technical account manager at Preact to go through a list of questions and requirements. We'll then cover all these points which gives me valuable insight which I can then apply to configure new processes and make further customisations to our system.
I believe we’ve achieved our immediate objectives when we implemented Dynamics 365 but there is much more to come. We are planning to connect Power BI to further enhance our reporting and there is interest in deploying a community web portal.
I have nothing but good things to say about Preact’s approach and the expertise of their consultants. They have made life much easier for us and I have no qualms in recommending their services to anyone looking for help with Dynamics 365.”

To learn more about the Dorset Mental Health Forum and its activities visit:

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