Case Study

The National YMCA

Located at the YMCA national headquarters in Chicago, the National YMCA Employee Benefits Plan (NYEBP) is responsible for managing the benefit plans of approximately 14,000 people across the United States. To manage these benefits, the NYEBP relied on an aging customer relationship management (CRM) platform that was both expensive to maintain and unusably slow.

The NYEBP’s CRM was built using three separate databases, connected together in a system that was tedious and inefficient for even the most basic tasks. Even training new users in the essential operations of the system was becoming prohibitively expensive. The CRM was also filled with years of “dirty” data, cluttering up fields and forms with irrelevant and useless data. As a result, the CRM couldn’t even be used for one of its core functions — generating mass emailing lists — which instead had to be created manually, consuming a tremendous amount of staff time and effort

After years of patched-together fixes, it became clear to the NYEBP that something had to change. It was time for a new CRM solution.

Business Objectives

The NYEBP had specific needs for their new CRM, and any proposed solution would need to be capable of handling them. These were:

  • Easily and efficiently manage the benefits of over 14,000 employees.
  • Allow benefit information to be entered and retrieved quickly by users with relatively little training.
  • Provide advanced task-assignment functionality, allowing the CRM to be used in a more flexible manner.
  • Simplify the current processes and workflows, making the system as user-friendly as possible.
  • Reduce the number of databases the system relied on, reducing the costs of upgrades and maintenance.
  • Provide reliable and advanced tools for email marketing and other list-driven uses.
  • Ensure that the large amount of sensitive customer data was handled to the highest CRM security standards.

After meeting with potential CRM solution providers, the NYEBP awarded the job to Intelestream, Inc., a Chicago-based CRM consulting group.


After several meetings with NYEBP stakeholders, Intelestream created a roadmap for achieving the organization’s goals with their new CRM. This would be a truly customized solution, tailored around the organization’s unique needs. This solution would not only include CRM technology improvements, but also a high level of training and administrative support.

Intelestream’s customizations and improvements would go far beyond the CRM’s essential functions, and would provide a wealth of tools and options geared towards creating a sustainable, scalable and reliable solution for NYEBP’s long-term needs. These included:

  • Enhanced global searching options, allowing users to find text embedded in descriptions, fields, notes, etc.
  • Customized dropdowns that only display information relevant to the specific task at hand.
  • Activity and history flagging, including an ‘urgent’ field to help visually denote important activities.
  • A “sophisticated tasks” module, allowing tasks to be easily managed and re-assigned, as well as a notification system for task-related updates.
  • Integrated mass emailing and reporting tools, allowing users to generate automatic recipient lists based on reporting results.
  • A show/hide button that, by default, only shows the most relevant information for a given task.
  • A split-layout format for product organization, showing only the fields that are relevant to the product type.
  • Customized email templates for specific segments, groups, and products.

As the implementation moved forward, the NYEBP also asked Intelestream to develop a Google Maps™ plug-in for their system. At the time, there were no tools or plug-ins offering this level of mapping integration with SugarCRM™. The resulting plug-in allowed users to conveniently view account and product data on a map, and then apply the results to specialized reports.

Business Value Realized

In less than three months, NYEBP was able to go live with their fully customized CRM instance. The new system seamlessly integrated their existing business process, cutting costs while creating a highly efficient workflow.

The new CRM merged the NYEBP’s three databases into one, cleaning up years of incorrectly entered and out-of-date data in the process. Key information from eligibility and financial systems was also integrated, giving the group a more accurate and consolidated view of critical data. Thanks to the flexibility of the new CRM, it also became possible to integrate their system with the centralized database used by the YMCA of the USA, providing seamless updates of contacts and accounts.

The NYEBP now had the tools to manage an increased number of cases, complete daily tasks faster and more efficiently — all without the need to hire additional staff. They couldn’t be happier with the results.

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