Funeral specialist Dela centralizes the administration of its funeral homes with Dynamics 365

Guy Moens, IT Delivery Manager of Dela

Challenges

  • Replace old legacy application with a central system
  • Digitization of administrative records for more than 70 funeral homes
  • Scalable ERP system
  • Simplified system
  • Flexibility and adaptability for a niche market

Results

  • First Belgian company with a cloud version of Dynamics 365
  • The whole administrative process in Dynamics 365
  • Insight into processes and figures of the entire group
  • Data analytics with Microsoft Power BI

With around 70 funeral homes, Dela is one of the biggest names in the Belgian funeral industry. In addition to funeral services, Dela also offers a wide range of funeral insurance policies, which involves a lot of paperwork for its staff of over 130 employees. Dela needed a solution, so partnered up with Cegeka to replace its outdated legacy application. The digitization process was launched with Dynamics 365 as the central ERP system.

Guy Moens, IT Delivery Manager at Dela, supervises the project managers and business analysts of the IT department. "I’ve seen our department grow fivefold in the last two years," he says. "One year ago the team I’m leading now didn’t even exist. This kind of growth comes with growing pains, of course. But we have professionalized the department, and Cegeka managed that process efficiently."

In search of a custom solution

Back in 2015, Dela was looking for a partner to upgrade their old legacy application. The application was custom made, but outdated and impossible to update. "The first step was analysing the market," says Guy. "But Dela is a fairly unique company, and there are hardly any players of a similar size in the funeral industry. The existing applications for funeral homes often do not offer support in Dutch or French. So we had to look for a solution that offered sufficient flexibility to meet our needs."

“We have professionalized the department, and Cegeka has managed that process efficiently.“

 Guy Moens, IT Delivery Manager at Dela

Dela_01

First Dynamics 365 user in Belgium

Cegeka recommended Microsoft Dynamics 365 and won the contract. "First of all, we selected Cegeka because their Solution Architect impressed us with his proposal," says Guy. "We were the first company in Belgium to implement the cloud version of Dynamics 365. Imagining what a new system will look like is difficult, but Cegeka was able to outline and visualize this very effectively."

"We also had a lot of faith in Cegeka’s pre-sales phase," Guy continues. "Most of the other candidates gave a simple sales pitch, but Cegeka proved that they could think along with us and assess our needs correctly. That was five years ago, and I can confirm today that we made the right choice. The price estimate was accurate, and the same Solution Architect is still working on the project right now, which is important in terms of continuity."

Transforming the administrative system

The entire administrative process of a funeral now takes place in Dynamics 365, from the intake interview with the family, where the data is registered, to invoicing and ordering items such as coffins and urns. "Logistically speaking, this is a fairly normal process, but the interpretation is slightly different than in other sectors," Guy clarifies. "Our staff do not speak IT, they just want to arrange the funeral as efficiently as possible."

This meant the Microsoft Dynamics terminology had to be replaced with ‘funeral language’. Similarly, the families organizing a funeral have no need for complicated processes. "Cegeka understood this perfectly. Dynamics 365 is extremely flexible and allows us to fully adapt the interaction to the needs of our employees and customers," says Guy.

“Our staff do not speak IT. Cegeka understood this perfectly and adapted the system to our needs.“

 Guy Moens, IT Delivery Manager at Dela

Phased rollout

The Dela funeral homes are spread all over the country, and most work independently. "One of the biggest challenges of the digitization process is that the Dela Group works in a decentralized manner," Guy says. "So it’s almost impossible to bring everyone together at the same time. We had to provide training for each funeral home separately, which was a tough challenge." Microsoft Dynamics 365 was rolled out in four waves. The funeral homes were clustered into zones, which were each assigned a Dynamics Champion. Dela introduced the new tool through e-learning and interactive sessions.

Simplifying the interface

"About 130 employees use the system. They include advisors, undertakers, zone managers ... all people who work in the funeral industry and aren’t necessarily very tech-savvy. Perhaps the biggest challenge of the project was to get everyone on board," Guy says. "The transition from a custom-made application to an ERP system is quite significant. Dynamics offers much more possibilities than the old system and the business processes are split up in different screens that are linked to each other. At times, this additional functionality seemed like more work to our employees. We removed all unnecessary content from the interface to make it easier for them, but the new working method still took some time to get used to."

Better insights thanks to centralized data

Now we can see the fruits of our efforts. Our old application consisted of several systems that functioned separately from each other. This meant that they could no longer be updated at the same time. Now everything has been centralized in Dynamics 365, which has a lot of advantages. "For example, we now have a much better insight into our processes and figures, and we can do extensive reporting," Guy explains. "We use Microsoft Power BI for data processing. Cegeka obviously also played an important role in that implementation. We intend to focus even more on this area in the future, but right now it’s still a work in progress."

“With Dynamics we have a better insight into our processes and we can do extensive reporting based on data. Cegeka implemented Microsoft Power BI for this purpose.“

 Guy Moens, IT Delivery Manager at Dela

Integrating other business units

Dela wants to deploy the Dynamics package in even more areas in the coming years.
“We already took care of family care last year. There are a number of financial processes in the pipeline, including our accounting system," says Guy. "This will provide many benefits. In 2021 we also want to replace our current CRM system with Dynamics."

Working with people, supported by IT

"So far, the project has been very successful," says Guy. "We work in a special industry, in which the way we interact with people is of paramount importance. The IT processes should support this in the best possible way, but are not crucial in the eyes of our customers. In other words, our administrative processes have to be as efficient as possible. With the switch to Dynamics, we have taken a huge step forward. Over the next years, we intend to further accelerate our digitization process."

"Cegeka have the courage to challenge our ideas if they have to, but also come up with proposals in a proactive manner. In the years to come, they will continue to be an important part of our further digitization."

 Guy Moens, IT Delivery Manager at Dela

"We are cooperating with Cegeka to implement these projects," Guy concludes, "because they have immersed themselves fully in our industry, and above all because of their critical and proactive attitude. They have the courage to challenge our ideas if they have to, but also come up with proposals in a proactive manner. In the years to come, Cegeka will continue to be an important part of our further digitization."

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