Custom Microsoft Dynamics CRM Development for Cinnaire

Explore how Cinnaire tackled intricate operational hurdles with a custom Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM solution called Spark, developed by Ascendix. This tailored solution empowered this capital markets firm to transition from disjointed Excel spreadsheets to unified, centralized processes, thereby enhancing the efficiency of their private equity and lending management operations.


Founded in Michigan in 1993, Cinnaire is a nonprofit organization specializing in community development finance by providing creative capital solutions to projects with high social value that may not otherwise receive support from traditional financial institutions.

Cinnaire’s toolkit of services include programs that lend funds, finance development, and manage and build all the components of strong, vibrant communities.

Over the past 30+ years, Cinnaire has grown to manage over $4 billion in real estate assets across 12 states.

Encompassing more than 50,000 housing units it remains a very people-focused company and a one-stop shop for affordable housing that can service all of their partners’ needs from investor to developer and help create good outcomes for their communities.

In 2020, Cinnaire partnered with Ascendix to improve their operations by implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online for contact management, property, and deal pipeline tracking.

Ryan T. Robinson
President, Cinnaire Syndication
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Lansing, MI
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Capital Markets, Nonprofit
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Services Provided
Dynamics 365 Consulting Services, CRM Audit, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Rehabilitation, Custom MS Dynamics 365 CRM Development & Support

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Scope of Services We Delivered to Cinnaire

MS Dynamics 365 CRM Assessment

Ascendix performed baseline Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM audit of the existing data model, page layouts, general process flows, and rules to support future growth and evolution of the solution.

CRM Strategy Consulting

We created a CRM roadmap for deploying the recommended changes and provided process mapping support for private equity, lender, and developer flows. Also, our team advised on object model architecture to support data capture, reporting, and workflows.

Custom MS Dynamics CRM Development

Our team performed custom CRM modules development on top of the MS Dynamics platform, refactored 15+ workflows and entities, created custom UI design, implemented new custom entities, or adjusted existing ones for Developer, Equity and Lending processes.

CRM Support and Maintenance

We evolved Cinnaire’s Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM-based solution, Spark, by enhancing their tracking and reporting of their annual compliance inspection process via custom schema and UI design, form, reports, and dashboards development. Ascendix continues to provide ongoing CRM support to extend the system features and workflows.

Key Client Challenges

Working with Ascendix feels like a true partnership, something I've rarely experienced with other vendors.

It's more than just business; it quickly evolves into a partnership that feels both personal and professional, which is something I truly appreciate and want to continue fostering.

Another point is Ascendix’s pricing structure. It offered a blended rate that turned out to be one of the best and most affordable relationships, producing impactful results.

Your pricing structure made a significant difference and I didn't feel like I was compromising on expertise or responsiveness.

Ryan T. Robinson, President at Cinnaire Syndication

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Hard reliance on Excel and email in deal management leading to inefficiencies.
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Lack of pipeline visibility with people accidentally deleting or altering critical information.
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Loss of institutional knowledge due to staff turnover and recurrent new onboardings.
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Lack of real-time snapshot of the pipeline and difficulties with deal status tracking.
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Need for centralized opportunity tracking across Business Development, Capital Raising, Underwriting, and Asset Management teams.
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Difficulties with generating accurate and timely reports from the pipeline data, often requiring substantial manual effort.

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Solutions Delivered

Custom Dynamics 365 CRM System Spark Ascendix

Custom CRM System – Spark

We’ve engaged in conceptualizing, collaborative design, and a development process with the client, providing feedback, presenting visual options, and refining ideas to build the first iteration of the Spark CRM– a custom solution powered by the MS Dynamics platform.


Workflow Automation

We helped Cinnaire transition from Excel-based processes to an automated workflow within their Spark CRM system that progresses deals from one stage to the next and notifies relevant team members as deals proceed.

Our collaboration resulted in a robust system, capable of handling complex workflow requirements and enhancing data consolidation with additional data points.

Custom Dynamics 365 CRM System Spark Ascendix
Custom MS Dynamics 365 Modules Development for Cinnaire Ascendix

Asset Management Compliance Module

Our team helped Cinnaire build custom modules on top of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to track and record data on annual physical inspections and tenant file reviews for properties.

In addition, we’ve developed a module for the dispositions team to manage end-of-tax credit compliance period processes, including data and valuation tracking for partner exits.


Events Module

Our team assisted in creating a module to track events and conferences, automating the invitation process, and management of staff sign-ups and approvals.

Further, we expanded the module functionality to track sponsorship opportunities, manage event-related merchandise, automate order tracking for new inventory, and catalog inventory orders and statuses.

Microsoft Dynamics Support and Training for Cinnaire Ascendix

Innovation Team Module

Further, we helped establish a step-by-step process for collecting ideas from staff, gathering relevant data, and guiding them through an approval process with the executive team.


IT Department Training

We’ve educated the client’s IT department on the MS Dynamics platform intricacies, enabling them to handle beginner-stage tasks and leverage the system effectively.

Also, we assisted in enhancing their skills for independent management of platform updates so the Ascendix team could focus on more complex, code-based updates, thus reducing professional service costs.

Microsoft Dynamics Support and Training for Cinnaire Ascendix

In about 15 minutes, I was able to pull data from the last three years from Spark CRM, including deals that are not yet closed. Having this information readily available is incredibly powerful and a significant change from when such data was dispersed across 600 Excel files.

What we're seeing is efficiency from every angle when we work with this system.

Ryan T. Robinson, President, Cinnaire Syndication



Improved Meeting Efficiency

Thanks to all the optimizations, weekly pipeline calls at Cinnaire have become more efficient, with shorter, more focused meetings. Now, these calls involve screen sharing live data from the Spark dashboards, eliminating the need for printed documents or Excel spreadsheets.

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Enhanced Data Integrity

Changes discussed during meetings are immediately reflected in the system, ensuring up-to-date and accurate information. In addition, the integrity of the deal pipeline has improved, with fewer instances of outdated or irrelevant deals being discussed.

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Centralized Data Collection

Now, data points are collected consistently as deals progress from concept to close, building a robust and reliable data record. Information that previously existed in multiple PDFs, Excel, and Word documents is now centralized in one system.

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Improved Data Accessibility

Users can query the system for data points relevant to deals across all stages, facilitating easy access to comprehensive information. The ability to generate reports from the centralized system allows for better understanding and analysis of deal-related data.

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Enhanced Communication and Trust

Improved accuracy in data and communication around fund structuring and pipeline integrity helped increase trust in the system’s data that has led to more users regularly accessing and relying on Spark system for their work.

Further CRM System Enhancements

Equity and Lending Workflow Expansion

Cinnaire plans to create comprehensive profiles for account records by incorporating data from various systems, such as performance history and property metrics. Also, the system will be able to provide entry-level analysts with access to the historical performance data of repeat partners.

System Integration with Spark CRM

This enhancement will facilitate a seamless transition of information from the Spark CRM system to other systems used in equity and lending businesses (asset management software and portfolio servicing software) to bring back property-level financial data, enhancing partner profiles.

HR Module Development

Togerther with Ascendix, Cinnaire is planning to integrate the HR team into the system from a module standpoint and automate processes related to onboarding new staff and managing staff transitions out of the company.

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