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Developing a new CRM system for managing relationships with SMEs

Lead Institution: Weymouth College

This is a sub-project of Progressing from labour market intelligence to HE level provision that is well supported by employers

Project Summary

Through this project, Weymouth College sought to create a communication toolkit, policy, and web-based infrastructure (Customer Relationship Management [CRM] system) to allow Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to access Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) through the existing network of Further Education Colleges (FECs) with which they work. The research was focussed on the needs of SME engineering firms in South Dorset and sought to also establish the barriers to development and implementation of HE within the sector and geography.

Weymouth College

Weymouth College

Local engineering SMEs were identified and face to face interviews conducted with 30 firms by engineering lecturing staff alongside FEC business development staff. Interviews were semi-structured to allow sufficient flexibility according to the type and size of firm involved. A CRM system was developed based on information and tested with a selected number of organisations.

Apart from the successful creation of a new CRM system that integrates with student records, the project highlighted some interesting barriers to HE engagement by engineering SMEs beyond the geographical isolation of being remotely located to an HEI. Of particular interest were the restrictions to engagement with the new Higher Apprenticeship (HA) frameworks due to the breadth of work of the SMEs involved and the lack of local knowledge about the potential benefits of Higher Education.

This was one of six sub-projects that make up the Marchmont Observatory-led, SW HE STEM project ‘Progressing from labour market intelligence to HE level provision that is well supported by employers’. 

Staff involved

Dr Ross Kay
Project lead, Weymouth College

Rex Witts
Project coordinator, Weymouth College

Brian Oman
Weymouth College

Chris Bonney
Weymouth College

Eleanor Davies
Weymouth College

Keith Lawson
Weymouth College