CASE STUDY

How a Non-Profit Leveraged Power BI to Thrive During the Pandemic

Learn how Exceed Enterprises leveraged Power BI and Power Platform to improve reporting, stay competitive, and raise wages for all of their employees.

Exceed Invests in Digital Transformation and Achieves Employee Wage Increases

Exceed Enterprises is a 53-year-old Oregon-based non-profit organization that serves people with diverse abilities—a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability—by providing opportunities for community engagement and employment in the community.

Exceed is a complex nonprofit with four different businesses that provide individual workers, small teams for local employers, as well as an award-winning production and assembly business serving Fortune 500 companies and local leaders such as Daimler Trucks, Georgia Pacific, Nike, Hood River Distillers, and more.

Exceed has to manage its increasingly complex business operations to deliver services to major corporations. This organization must be technologically sophisticated while staying focused on its mission, and within the budget and resources available to a typical mid-size non-profit.

As such, Exceed went through a digital transformation initiative that upgraded almost every piece of hardware and software. Exceed installed powerful solutions but lacked the resources and expertise to take full advantage of the tools.

Stephen Achilles, CEO of Exceed Enterprises, realized Exceed needed to implement more automated processes and insightful reporting to meet the challenges of a complex business.

“When we implemented the tools for our business, we knew that we had more work to do to achieve our goals,” said Stephen. “CSG came in and helped us get everything right. It was a huge time saver.”

“Now we are one of the most technologically sophisticated non-profits in Oregon. This is a foundational reason why we are able to offer a living wage in an industry that traditionally pays employees little above the minimum wage.”

“Becoming one of the most technologically sophisticated non-profits in Oregon is the foundational reason why we were able to offer wage increases to our employees.”

Improving Data Analytics Through Automation and Constant Guidance

Adding to the typical challenges of running a non-profit, Stephen must ensure that the production and assembly business is competitive. Equally important is treating Exceed employees well so that clients receive great service.

Exceed purchased and implemented the Microsoft ERP system, Dynamics 365 (D365), but didn’t have the expertise to use their data and tangential Power Platform tools effectively.

Automated financial reports were not formatted in a way that could be shared with auditors and board members. Management was not able to gain the needed insights to better manage their part of the business. Additionally, the organization needed to build capabilities in-house to use all of its technology cost-effectively.

“Microsoft tells you, ‘It’s so easy, anybody can do it.’ And we’re like, ‘Well, apparently we’re not very smart because we can’t figure it out!’ The tools are great, but they’re not easy for a non-technical person to use,” said Stephen.

“This is where CSG comes in. They don’t just give us the fish—they teach us how to fish. Now, going forward, we can handle some of these projects ourselves.”

CGS worked with Exceed’s CFO to set up technologies and processes to improve the organization’s financial analytics. We achieved these objectives by building Power BI reporting on the D365 Dataverse connector and filling the gaps of various business operations that had unique needs outside the scope of D365 using Power Platform.

Our data analytics solutions and constant guidance enabled Stephen and his team to take ownership and gain oversight so they could make well-informed business decisions.

We helped Exceed build easy-to-use business apps to optimize and automate singular business processes that were not best suited for D365. These apps will continue to support the organization’s digital transformation initiative and help it stay relevant and competitive as a supplier to Fortune 500 companies.

“CSG didn’t just give us the fish...they taught us how to fish. Now we can handle some of these projects ourselves.”

Emerging From the Pandemic, Well-Positioned for Growth

As a result of the collaboration with CSG, Exceed is getting much more value from their Microsoft D365 data with actionable Power BI reports. Since CSG custom-tailored solutions to align with the highest data priorities, executives can effectively manage production and assembly operations since they understand the decisions they need to make and deliver.

Stephen and his team gained new insights to confidently make the decision to raise the starting wage of their staff to $18.75 per hour. This is a living wage in Portland, compared with the $15.50 average wage in the industry.

“Being able to raise the wage for our staff was really important to us,” said Stephen. “Having great staff means that our clients are getting great services, even during a pandemic. “Now we have the information to understand the financial and organizational opportunities and risks that went along with that decision so we could get the board to approve the proposal.”

Additionally, this initiative helped Stephen cultivate a data culture within Exceed. Team members quickly reaped the benefits of these new business intelligence tools, which is key to sustaining innovation and competitiveness…and improving employee satisfaction.

Instead of a frustrating and time-consuming experience navigating legacy software, the team saves a lot of effort because they no longer have to deal with tedious and manual processes. They see concrete information on how they’re helping clients in real-time.

Stephen and other executives were able to analyze financial information and manipulate it to understand the cost of their decisions. This capability was particularly critical during the pandemic. The leadership team could forecast their cash flow accurately in a fraction of the time that it used to take, so they could respond to market conditions nimbly.

Exceed emerged from the pandemic with minimal loss and the ability to expand across the State of Oregon to meet a growing need for services in the community.

The organization is also able to recruit senior executives because it has a robust solution in place to help them do their jobs. Employees are leveraging data to come up with ideas they never thought of before. Everyone in the organization sees the value of data analytics and they are hungry for more.

“CSG is more than a vendor. They’re our strategic partner,” said Stephen. “They managed the project, checked in, and gave us feedback throughout the process. We need partners like them to help us use the tools we have cost-effectively. As a result, we can put every dollar into our staff by paying them a living wage and into serving our clients to the best of our capability.”

Thanks to the ongoing efforts and innovation, Exceed is managing inventory effectively through robust reporting and production solutions to deliver high-quality services to its customers. Along the way, they also outperformed over a thousand worldwide suppliers and received Daimler’s Masters of Quality Supplier award two years in a row.

"CSG is way more than a vendor. They're our strategic partner.”

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