Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Demo Video Now Available for Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors

InfoStrat has released a new video showing its sales force automation solution for government contractors based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

 
Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors provides government contractors with a flexible solution that helps automate business capture processes, including market intelligence analysis and in-depth proposal management.  This solution simplifies the capture process by allowing users to search for opportunities from government databases directly within Microsoft Dynamics CRM and import those search results, creating CRM opportunity records. Users can then follow opportunities through the sales process from proposal and review phases to the final award phase. Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors is built on the Microsoft Dynamics platform to facilitate integration with ERP, accounting, and document management.

Monday, June 30, 2014

InfoStrat Excited About Microsoft Kinect V2

The InfoStrat Advanced Technology Group has been deeply engaged with Microsoft in its products using a natural user interface (NUI) such as multi-touch screens, voice controls, and motion sensing.  We are excited about the latest version of Kinect, and are exploring how it will make NUI apps better than ever.

The following video shows a comparison of Kinect version 1 and version 2 for tracking skeletons.



Skeleton tracking is essential for many games and for practical purposes such as exercise and physical therapy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Microsoft Focuses on Compliance and Agility for Government Contractors

In his blog post today, Elliott Ichimura, Microsoft Global Industry Director, announced a new initiative to help government contractors work more efficiently and comply with regulatory requirements.

Microsoft has recently formed an alliance of its partner companies who focus on the government contractor community.  InfoStrat is excited to be named one of the premiere partners in this group for Dynamics CRM.

The InfoStrat solution Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors has recently been enhanced to work on the latest version of Dynamics CRM and provide integration with data services such as FedBizOps and Onvia.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Don't Let SharePoint Grow Like Kudzu

SharePoint is a great product, but it is so easy to use and offers so many options for how you organize your sites and content that it can grow out of control.  In a large organization, the depth and quality of content varies widely from one department to another, and even site navigation can become confusing.

After a few years of using SharePoint, your intranet can become like the wild west, sprawling and lawless.

To get the most out of SharePoint, you need governance which matches the cultural style and policies of your organization.  Consider questions like these:
  1. Do you want a single consistent graphic design and theme throughout your sites?  Should departments "brand" themselves in a different way than the overall organization?
  2. Can users create sites without permission from administrators?
  3. How long should sites last?  How can users know when content is still current?  Are old sites deleted or archived?
  4. Does the site navigation reflect the popularity of sites and pages?  How does it evolve as new content is created?
  5. Do you want the site to look like SharePoint out of the box, or create a more custom website appearance?
  6. Should you have a collection of formal sites as well as a separate set of informal, ad hoc sites for collaboration?
InfoStrat helps clients not only with the technical side of SharePoint, but with planning, design and governance.  Be sure to write down the vision for the intranet, and keep updating your objectives over time.

Agile project approaches are well suited to SharePoint because they engage the project stakeholders.

Upgrading to a new version of SharePoint provides an opportunity to institute governance and clean up your sites. Learning about which new features you will need is a great way to increase overall knowledge of SharePoint and give your intranet a fresh start.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Small Business

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is a great solution for small businesses because you don't need to worry about the server infrastructure or purchasing server software licenses.  But what if you need fewer than the minimum five users for Dynamics CRM Online?

Microsoft publishes a list of three options for small businesses to track their sales activities:

http://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/xrm/archive/2014/04/21/microsoft-crm-options-for-small-businesses.aspx

One of them is Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM: a cloud-based CRM solution from xRM, a Microsoft partner that specializes in CRM and private cloud solutions. Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is priced at the same monthly subscription rates as Dynamics CRM Online but does not have a minimum number of users.  It requires an initial setup fee of $50 in addition to the monthly subscriptions. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Government Contractors: Tailoring Your CRM to Shipley Processes

Shipley Associates (www.shipleywins.com) has developed the best known business development processes for government contractors.  The Shipley seven-phase process has been proven to help government contractors increase their win rate and achieve growth in new contracts. According to their publication Capturing Federal Business:

"Rarely, though, are all steps shown appropriate for a particular company or a given business opportunity.  Successful business development organizations will tailed this model to reflect characteristics and time scales of their markets, leaving out or adjusting tasks if necessary."

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors lends itself to tailoring, so you can configure automated business processes to match the needs of your company and the type of opportunities you pursue.  You can quickly add or delete fields, and design workflows using a wizard user interface.  As I said in a February blog post, one size does not fill all for government contractors. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three Types of Mobile Apps for Dynamics CRM

Mobile clients are big news in Dynamics CRM 2013.  If you are serious about mobile CRM, you will need to choose from among three types of mobile apps: Microsoft apps, third party apps, and custom apps.  Each of these has strengths and weaknesses.

The easiest path is to experiment with mobile CRM is to download the free Microsoft for your device. 

Today, Microsoft offers its own official, supported mobile clients for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone. Microsoft has made all its apps look similar to the web experience on Windows 8.



The second option is to buy a third party mobile client for Dynamics CRM. such as Resco or CWR Mobility. Third party providers have offered mobile clients longer than Microsoft.  In some ways, they are more fully featured and offer the ability to customize in ways that are not supported by Microsoft.  Resco, for instance, offers the Woodford solution which is installed in Dynamics CRM to allow CRM administrators to configure the mobile experience from within Dynamics CRM.



The most expensive and difficult option is to write a custom mobile app for Dynamics CRM.  You must choose a development platform and language and design the app from the ground up. You could choose a native development tool or use a cross-platform development tool such as Appcelerator or Xamarin.

The advantage of a custom app is that you can optimize the user experience. You can make your iOS app look and feel exactly like an iOS app and follow the conventions of the platform.  You can have each app take advantage of the unique form factor and features of the mobile hardware.  You can optimize a user experience for a task, reducing menus and navigation to the bare minimum.  For instance, a delivery driver or airline gate agent might need a closely tailored user experience for enhanced speed and accuracy.  The following is a screen from the InfoStrat mobile Constituent Manager solution for Android. It allows the user to identify a point on the map using their GPS coordinates.




One important consideration is where you have deployed your Dynamics CRM solution.   Some apps only work with Dynamics CRM Online, and others only work with on premise deployments.  For Microsoft mobile apps, you must configure your Dynamics CRM deployment to be Internet-facing.   Here is a list of troubleshooting hints for mobile and IFD.