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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Application Review

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Software Customization

One of the key strengths and most enhanced features of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM platform is the ability to create custom Entities (like Accounts, Contacts, etc.) and Attributes (also known as fields) and define how they relate to each other. For example, you can create a separate entity under an Account record that is a 1:N to the Account like Club Affiliations or Subscriptions. Once this is done, you can define attributes and place them into sections onto the form. This can then be placed as either a menu item or a series of tabs linked to the Account. You can create Attributes or fields on a form from a list of common field types such as Date/Time, List Box, Text, Numeric, Decimal, Currency, etc. Custom Entities and Attributes are then available through all standard methods such as Import, Export, Advance Finder, Mail Merge, Report Wizard and even Security settings.

The only limitation that should be noted here is that there is a limitation of one form per Entity. This may seem trivial, but it can limit your ability to, for example, have two Opportunity Information forms for a given organization, which can be a limiting factor with organizations that sell different products and services into the same sets of accounts.

System Integration and API

As you would expect, Microsoft excels in this area as well with a full library of .NET based integration services and an SDK for developing others as well as the ability to support third party plug ins. Microsoft also has packaged integration to all of its Dynamics line of Accounting and ERP solutions from its long line of product acquisitions such as Great Plains, Solomon, NAV, etc. There are also a number of third party solution providers like CWR and TenDigits that provide tools to enhance access from mobile phones and PDA as well as ones from c360 for better analytics and dashboard capabilities. Lastly, there are a number of industry solutions that have been developed and maintained by partners in specific industries such as Media, Healthcare and Professional Services.

Professional Services Support and Training

Given the targeted audience of this product, Microsoft provides a large number of self service tools like e-learning courses, blogs and also maintains a customer support portal called the Resource Center. This is centered around helping small businesses get up and running on a 5-25 user license of their solution with limited customizations and limited training. While Microsoft does offer access to their own professional services organization, the vast majority of professional services assistance comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes from the Microsoft partner community including Avanade, their IT consultancy joint venture with Accenture. Partners range in size and scope from regional CRM boutique firms to large national Microsoft Certified Gold Partners capable of selling and servicing the full range of Microsoft products. There are also a small number of global consulting organizations, like Accenture, that can provide assistance if the project is large enough. Please keep in mind that resources from these organizations can vary widely in terms of their knowledge of the CRM product as well as knowledge of how to plan and manage a successful implementation. Pick your partner based on their ability to demonstrate a proven track record of satisfied customers with the selected product in the selected industry. You should also review resumes of each team member to make sure you are getting the experience you are paying for.

Other Comparable Vendors To Consider

IF you’re considering Microsoft CRM as either an on premise or SaaS solution, you should also be considering the following vendors for the following reasons:

Vendor Deployment Options Target Market Key Reasons To Consider
Aplicor CRM SaaS Mid-Market, Enterprise Same MS technology stack, but a much easier to use interface.
Balanced strength in all modules
Service Level Agreements
NetSuite SaaS Small to Midsize Business (SMB) Integrated SaaS CRM and back office solutions.
Good SFA functionality through order processing.
RightNow SaaS Mid-Market Strong in Customer Support
Industry leader in SaaS Self Service
Sage CRM On Premise, SaaS Small to Midsize Business (SMB) Both deployment options with a comparable footprint to MS CRM. SaaS Small to Enterprise SFA functionality is strong
Catalog of third party solutions is large.
Siebel On Demand SaaS SMB Strong Sales and Customer Support functions.
Oracle technology stack and development tools.


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