Founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, The Donkey Sanctuary is one of the largest equine charities in the world with the vision to create a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering. To fulfil their mission, they needed a flexible animal management solution to record, manage and act upon the data they collected on the animals. With no off-the-shelf solution fit for purpose, Chorus and The Donkey Sanctuary worked together to build a bespoke ‘donkey management system’ built on Microsoft Dynamics 365.

  • Donkey Sanctuary logo
Donkey in a field

“Chorus presented a solution, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and it was quickly clear just how flexible Dynamics 365 was. It wasn’t just the platform though, we also loved Chorus and their down to earth and innovative approach."

Animal Management System Manager, The Donkey Sanctuary

The goals

  • Implement a flexible animal management system
  • Ensure unique data and processes could be captured and managed in one system
  • Have a user-friendly interface that staff could easily use

The solutions

  • Bespoke animal management system built on Dynamics 365
  • Custom user interfaces in Dynamics 365 for quick data entry

How we helped

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 services
  • CRM Consultancy
  • Bespoke .NET development
  • Dynamics 365 Support
Donkey in a field

Background

The Donkey Sanctuary was using a complex database that users struggled to use and didn’t fulfil all their requirements. With the aim of wanting to help two million donkeys every year in over 40 countries by 2018, they began searching for a new provider to build a bespoke solution that would meet all their needs.

“We wanted to find a system that could manage all the different areas of work that we do at The Donkey Sanctuary” explains Sarah Tulloch, Animal Management Systems Manager. “From veterinary care to donkey re-homing, we needed a solution that could be tick all the boxes and be easy for staff to use.”

To find the right solution and partner, several potential suppliers were invited to build and present a proof of concept to show how the new system could look.

Donkey in field

Presenting Dynamics 365

“Chorus presented a solution, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and it was quickly clear just how flexible Dynamics 365 was” Sarah recounts. “It wasn’t just the platform though, we also loved Chorus and their down to earth and innovative approach. Ultimately, we chose Chorus because they were a friendly and compassionate team who clearly loved the product they were working with.

It was important that we worked closely together. As some of our processes are unique, we need Chorus to understand exactly how we work. The team at Chorus adapt their solution and approach to fit with how we work and always bring fresh and innovative ideas to the project.”

Donkeys by a field

User experience first

One of these ideas, was how to provide the best user experience for all staff. With a wide variety of skilled workers using the system, the user interface needed to be clean and simple to use. Luckily, Microsoft Dynamics 365 already provides a familiar experience, as staff were already using other Microsoft platforms, but Chorus developed the system further to enhance user experience.

“We knew that user experience was a top priority for The Donkey Sanctuary” explains Nick Murdock, Senior Product Solutions Architect at Chorus. “We did a few simple changes to Dynamics 365, such as configuring bespoke terminology and applying icons to the system, but we also took it a step further by suggesting a custom interface for the teams that needed to enter lots of data rapidly. Our technical team worked with our UX designers, to build a web interface within Dynamics 365 so they had an attractive data entry display within Dynamics that made data entry very quick and efficient.”

“The ability to batch process data through a user-friendly window has been a hugely popular function with our farm staff, who need to enter and apply data to hundreds of animals” adds Sarah.

Custom process flows were also developed, which allowed staff to consistently work through their unique processes when rehoming donkeys. “Ultimately, we want to rehome healthy donkeys so that they have a safe and caring home but this requires a long procedure with lots of checks” says Sarah. “Having our exact process in the system means we don’t have to compromise and can capture all this information with cues along the way so that every check is completed and captured.”

These key milestones, such as being rehomed or medical updates, needed to be recorded in one place. Custom milestone timelines were built so that teams could quickly see the entire history of each donkey. “Having this overall view of the animals and their history, allows us to work more effectively and help provide the right level of care to each donkey” reveals Sarah. “As we help thousands of donkeys we need to be able to have a clear overview in one place but also to see each animal’s history, movements and status.”

Donkeys by some grass

A completely bespoke solution fit for purpose

“It’s not just the donkeys we want to support though, it’s also those that rely on them and care for them. Our welfare team work to educate and support owners by giving advice or visiting homes. All this information can now also be captured and viewed in one place, which fills a gap we weren’t achieving before.”

The result is a bespoke system that fulfils the charities requirements and that staff enjoy using. By being built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, The Donkey Sanctuary also benefits from regular platform updates, which are tested in development sandboxes before release, so that they have a progressive platform that is tailored to the way they work.

Nick at Chorus explains “People tend to view Dynamics 365 as a customer relationship management system that only works well for standard sales processes but it really can be developed to manage absolutely anything. We love showing our clients the vast possibilities that Dynamics can offer.”

“Chorus have delivered a solution above our expectations and have always given us a very personal experience” says Sarah. “Our new system gives us the tools we need so that we don’t have to worry about the technology but can focus on the mission of our charity. Their ongoing support is second to none.”

Two women laughing by laptop

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