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Salesforce Couldn’t Handle This Private Equity Firm’s Unique Requirements

Tom Berger
14 May, 2020

So they replaced it with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and a Power App.

We’ve been designing and implementing technology solutions for financial services firms for many years, but we still encounter unique challenges that can’t be addressed by out-of-the-box software. A firm that came to us recently, looking for a financial services CRM solution, had one of those challenges.

A global, private equity group that invests in consumer brands increases the value of their investments by evaluating their current leadership and re-tooling them into award-winning teams that will continue to build value.

Recruiting and augmenting management is critical to retooling leadership teams, but the focus is on relationship building rather than transactional tasks typically associated with recruiting.

A unique need for complex search capabilities in a financial services CRM solution

The firm’s internal recruiters use their comprehensive network of contacts to find the right people to add to these re-tooled leadership teams. They need visibility into their relationships and talent pool across their portfolio of companies—including executives’ qualifications, experience, attributes, and geographic location—to ensure the best possible match. They also use LinkedIn for enhanced analysis of candidates and their relationships.

Three big challenges that needed to be addressed

The challenges

  • 1

    Once they had loaded a resumé into the financial services CRM system or entered information into a transactional database, how would they then search through that kiloton of data to find the best candidate for a specific role?

  • 2

    Recruiters use LinkedIn to conduct analyses on candidates, but they need to do so without alerting the candidate they’re researching.

  • 3

    The firm needed the ability to report on talent searches to the overall organization and do it with a high degree of customization and printability.


The firm was using Salesforce and a homegrown system, which did not have the specialized, complex querying or resumé parsing functionality they required. Other best-of-breed systems for tracking the hiring process were evaluated but also fell short. So, the firm turned to HSO, which had already been engaged to replace Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales as their financial Services CRM.

Dynamics 365 offers out-of-the-box functionality for searches, which allows the user to do keyword searches and even complex querying. However, the firm’s highly complex needs required querying skills that most people without a programming background don’t possess.

The firm required a system with that robust querying functionality, but with an easy-to-use interface that would enable recruiters themselves to quickly search deep into records based on specific criteria. For example, a recruiter might need to search for a C-level executive with an MBA, a background in Finance, and a willingness to relocate to Asia. The recruiter could then save the result of the configured query and start working to build more of a relationship with the resulting list of candidates.

Microsoft Power Apps provides the answer to the complex search conundrum

HSO implemented Dynamics 365 as planned for the firm’s CRM requirements, but with some special additions.

Embedded within the firm’s Dynamics CRM solution is a Power App built by the HSO team to handle complex queries. The App searches for all the requested data in the query at once, regardless of which criteria were set–or the number of criteria included in the query. If the data behind the criteria is in Dynamics, the Power App will find and retrieve it.

Power Apps enabled the HSO team to quickly build a solution that also provided a seamless experience that looks like it came out of the box with Dynamics. Without Power Apps, this solution likely would have been pieced together using HTML, which would have taken much longer, cost more to support over time, and been more cumbersome to interact with.

What about LinkedIn data? LinkedIn has a standard integration with Dynamics but does not allow “true” integration, so the solution was designed to automatically download resumés (singly or in batches) in PDF format and import them as contacts into Dynamics, with a third-party parsing tool. When the resumé is parsed, the resulting data elements are automatically loaded into Dynamics and become part of the firm’s repository of talent data. This is not limited to downloaded LinkedIn resumés but typical Word and PDF resumes received manually from candidates as well.

The results: A clear competitive differentiator – powered by Power Apps

The new solution has not only reduced what before required two systems plus Outlook to a single financial services CRM system but now non-technical users can execute very customized queries quickly and easily. For example, they can now search for candidates who have held the position of COO, have a certain number of years in Operations, live in the Northeast, attended a specific school or have a specific degree, worked at a specific company or in a specific industry, AND have worked with specific technologies. Any information about a candidate that can be “tagged” can be included in a query. The more tags used, the more specific the resulting list.

The simplicity of the new Power App, along with the fact that it looks and feels just like the firm’s Dynamics 365 CRM solution in which it is embedded, reduced training time to nearly nothing. Sophisticated reporting on pipeline and candidate dossiers saves recruiters immeasurable hours, enabling them to focus on gaining more value from their searches than the administration of the system.

This critical process and competitive differentiator has become virtually frictionless, dramatically increasing productivity and reducing duplication of effort.

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Is Power Apps holding the answer for you?

This firm’s story is just one very specific example of what Power Apps can do—and what HSO has been able to do with it to bridge the gaps that so many firms struggle with, not only with their financial services CRM, but across the board.

Power Apps is an amazingly simple, cost-effective tool that extends a solution already in place (not just Microsoft!), produces extraordinary results, and accelerates time to value exponentially.

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