VHB Gains Control of Their Data and Drives Greater Visibility and Efficiencies with aec360

VHB gains a sustainable and scalable CRM solution, enhancing data control, visibility, and efficiency across the organization. This shift not only streamlined their marketing and business development processes but also significantly improved their strategic decision-making and relationship intelligence capabilities.

Headquartered in Watertown, MA, and with more than 2,000 employees in 30+ offices along the East Coast, VHB's team of engineers, scientists, planners, and designers work across multiple markets in the AE industry to improve mobility, enhance communities, and balance infrastructure needs with environmental stewardship.

Challenge: A need for a sustainable and scalable CRM solution

For years, VHB had successfully utilized a custom CRM application developed in-house as their marketing database and document generation tool. While it offered "a little bit of everything" and was liked by the marketing team, the time came when the application was no longer enough to support their growing organization and management of the tool became inefficient. The VHB team had a strategic vision for their business, particularly for the marketing and business development teams, and they needed software that could support those efforts. They required:

  • A sustainable, scalable solution capable of growing with the organization
  • Easily customized tools and advanced features to support their growth strategy
  • User-friendly interfaces that would be embraced by employees beyond the marketing team
  • Reliable data across the entire firm that can be used for strategic decision-making

Solution: A scalable, sustainable system, fit for the entire organization

After considering other options, VHB selected aec360 CRM from HSO, part of a comprehensive suite of software applications built specifically for the AEC industry. The aec360 CRM solution offers marketing, business development, relationship intelligence, experience management, and proposal document assembly capabilities. Built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, aec360 offers the latest in Microsoft cloud technology, coupled with a familiar Microsoft-centric user interface.

aec360 CRM had the technology and industry-specific CRM capabilities needed to address VHB’s broader needs, including:

  • Being both scalable and sustainable for the long term
  • Providing a single source of data that could be trusted for reporting
  • Automatically capturing and surfacing relationships across the entire organization
  • Providing a natural fit (with the ability to be easily customized) for the firm's marketing and business development process, thereby improving pursuit management
  • Generating project sheets and resumes directly out of the system for proposal automation
  • Integrating seamlessly with the firm's ERP data in Deltek Vision
  • Offering a familiar Microsoft user interface that increased user adoption within and outside the Marketing organization
  • Providing Outlook and Teams integration that enables seamless collaboration between Marketing and Business Development

Benefits: Gaining control of data leads to more confidence

Once implemented, aec360 helped the Marketing team organize crucial data and further standardize their workflows and processes. It proved to be a strong solution to support strategic positioning during pursuits, and much more—all of which accelerated the adoption of the new solution across the organization.

Relationship building

VHB is also utilizing relationships360, a powerful relationship intelligence tool that uncovers and maximizes relationships fostered by team members throughout the organization, supercharging pursuit teams and increasing the effectiveness of business development efforts.

Armed with the knowledge of who knows who, VHB uses relationships360 creatively to maximize their connections when pursuing new projects, markets, or geographies, as well as for strategic positioning and outreach. For instance, they use the tool to identify a common VHB relationship with a new client they may be looking to expand their business. "We are seeing people start to understand what having a relationship in aec360 means, how it can be used, and the benefit of having more visibility around the various relationships that exist—and not just the relationships, but also the scale of those relationships," said Carissa Burlakos, CRM Analytics Manager at VHB.

relationships360 is also used to help build the brand and develop new business by targeting industry speakers with an established relationship with VHB to participate in roundtables, conversations, and other thought leadership events.

"Our use of relationships360 is geared toward strategic decision-making and relationship building," said Elizabeth Freeman, VP Marketing & Business Development. "It plays an important role in helping to identify networking and client development opportunities to expand our business and further foster trusted advisor relationships."

Pipeline and reporting for strategic growth

One of the criteria used in selecting a new solution was the accessibility of the data and the quality of its reporting capabilities. aec360's integrations with Microsoft's Power Platform and Deltek Vision allow VHB to access accurate, real-time data. Plus, aec360's data management tools help the internal CRM team keep data clean and up to date. The solution has met the company’s needs for both marketing/business development usability and technology dependability.

"VHB was looking for a system that could help us with opportunity and pipeline tracking and fit into our business development process," added Greg Bosworth, Chief Information Officer. "Being on an enterprise platform gives us the confidence and reliability we need as we continue to grow. It gave us usable, normalized data, which, in turn, gave us trustworthy reporting."

aec360 has helped VHB develop and implement best practices while breaking down data silos. Data from aec360 and other tools across the firm is analyzed using Power BI and is used for reporting and strategic planning.

According to Freeman, "aec360 gives us real-time perspective into information that we could not easily produce in the past and had to go to multiple reports to obtain. We are now able to easily convey how we are doing as an organization from a client development and marketing perspective: what is the strength of our pursuit pipeline or what is our success rate as we compete for various sizes of pursuits across our markets and geography.

Being on an enterprise platform gives us the confidence and reliability we need as we continue to grow. It gave us usable, normalized data, which, in turn, gave us trustworthy reporting.

Greg Bosworth Chief Information Officer

Document generation

While VHB’s previous marketing and proposal solution had similar features, aec360 has elevated the team’s capabilities when it comes to efficiently generating proposal-supporting documents. aec360 enables the Marketing team to save considerable time preparing proposals by automating the extraction of project and employee information and presenting it in various formats, including PDF, Word, PowerPoint, InDesign, and even SF330 forms.

"When new hires come on board, we often hear, 'This is amazing, we’re blown away with this tool, it’s much more robust than anything we’ve seen in the industry before!'" said Burlakos.

Change management

Over the last several years, VHB has been focused on change management efforts to become a more connected, agile, and efficient organization. aec360 is helping them along this journey with its flexibility and delivery of a superior user experience.

As the company built a renewed business development approach and is working on elevating their client development and experience program, the flexibility of aec360 allows VHB to align modules to their needs. ”With aec360, we now have the ability to take the process we’re implementing and mirror that into the application,” said Bosworth. The solution’s adaptability removes roadblocks that often hinder this challenging process and allows the team to focus on their process and goals rather than wrestling with CRM functionality.

With aec360 being adopted beyond Marketing, VHB’s leadership team now has visibility and accessibility of information to more easily analyze and make adjustments, as market conditions or changes in strategy require.

A solution for a self-sufficient organization

In addition to delivering all the features that VHB had identified, aec360’s flexibility and the ease with which it can be customized and integrated with other key applications will make it easy for the firm to manage, adjust, and extend it with or without outside assistance, promoting self-sufficiency.

aec360 is a flexible system, so we can do what we need to do on our own, or with the help of a partner. It allows us to be self-sufficient, which is ideal.

Gary Goldstein IT Project Manager

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