Tuesday, September 27, 2016

InfoStrat QuickStart for Dynamics CRM Frequently Asked Questions

My company InfoStrat offers a QuickStart packaged service offering to help clients quickly get up and running with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. We receive many questions on when the QuickStart is the best fit for your CRM project.  These are the frequently asked questions (FAQ).
  1. How long does the QuickStart take? The QuickStart is a one-week engagement to get you and your users up and running with Dynamics CRM.  We provide templates for requirements and details such as user roles before the QuickStart begins. 
  2. Why should I hire a Microsoft Gold Partner to help? If this is your first experience with Dynamics CRM, you can save time and avoid false starts.  Hiring an outside consultant can increase the priority of the effort and prevent the implementation from being stalled by competing priorities.  
  3. Which CRM module should I start with? We recommend you choose from sales, service or marketing based on your business priorities.  
  4. Who participates in the QuickStart? The most successful engagements have a primary contact designated who is available throughout, and key stakeholders available as needed to quickly answer requirements questions.
  5. When should I start my CRM Online subscription? We recommend you sign up before the QuickStart, and we can help you sign up using the correct process based on your Microsoft volume licensing agreement.
  6. Where can I find self-study materials and videos to learn Dynamics CRM? A good place to begin is with Microsoft CRM videos on YouTube.  We can point you to resources most appropriate to your plans. 

Starting is the hardest part of a CRM implementation.  Once you have Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online up and running with your initial users it is much easier to add new features and reports because momentum is on your side.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Victim Notification with SAVIN: South Dakota Goes Statewide



In July 2016, South Dakota rolled out a fully statewide SAVIN notification system using the solution from InfoStrat.  

The SAVIN solution provides victims with timely and accurate notifications of changes to offender custody and case status. Built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it leverages the best of breed technology which is regularly upgraded by Microsoft. It provides a wide range of tools for administrators including ad hoc reporting and query development, workflow management, internal alerting, integration with Microsoft Office, role-based security, and many other standard features. 

The SAVIN solution can be implemented on premise or in the Microsoft cloud. And it can be implemented as a stand-alone solution for a specific justice organization (Corrections Department, Jail, Court, Prosecutor, etc.) or as a complete statewide solution including data from multiple justice organizations.

Highlights of the South Dakota implementation include:     
  1.  Exclusive use of the NIEM Standard SAVIN data exchange for all interfaces InfoStrat implemented the SAVIN SSP for all interfaces, which include Court, Prosecutor, Law Enforcement, Jail and Corrections data sources. This provides a single code base for all exchanges, enabling the application of both source specific and global business rules for all incoming data. This also means that all data exchanges are transmitted using web services, so the incoming data is passed at the time of data entry in the source systems.
  2. Proxy Victim Registration for Law Enforcement and State’s Attorney staff  Law enforcement and state prosecutors can register victims for notification for multiple scenarios: direct registration, third party registration (for victims in temporary shelters), and full proxy (where the victim advocate would receive notification to forward to the victim for full anonymity).
  3. Notification only for specific crimes To ensure that notification resources are used effectively, notification services are limited to offenders who commit more serious crimes. Offenders who commit non-violent crimes do not even appear on the portal for registration. This also is extended to notification about court events; only cases involving SAVIN reportable charges are included for notification.
  4. Expanded notification options for victims State’s Attorney staff confirm self-registered victims and can conduct proxy registration for victims. Victims are provided full set of notification options as to how they can be notified—phone, email, text message, letter—and are eligible for notification of all events. Individuals can also register as interested parties, but are limited to email notification and for a subset of events. The solution also relegates victims to interested party status after the sentence has been served. The person will still receive general notifications about the offender, should there be any events that follow the offender’s release.
  5. Full case updates on changes to case. Court events are defined as immediate or update events. Immediate events result in an immediate notification; update events result in a full email update of case activities at the end of the day. This keeps victims apprised of case actions without receiving a large number of notifications in a short period of time.
  6. Law Enforcement portal allows all jails to participate A law enforcement portal provides all sheriff and police offices to add and update offender data even if their jail management system is offline or has not yet integrated. Quality controls are in place to prevent jails from updating offenders currently in custody in another facility.
South Dakota also took advantage of many of the standard features of the SAVIN solution and of Dynamics CRM:
  •   Single record per Offender, so all data updates one record and victims need only sign up once. 
  •   Annual follow up of victim data to ensure contact information remains accurate.
  •   Categorized notification to allow variation of the recall schema based on urgency of the event.
  •   Notification Governor, which monitors for probably erroneous bulk data changes and prevents large numbers of erroneous notifications.
  •   Notification History, so Administrators can view all notifications provided to a specific registrant, including the text of all messages provided.
  •   Never search again logic, which allows victims to immediately view status on offenders for whom they are registered.
  •   Personalized calls to victims for truly urgent events
  •   Manual initiation of notification for unexpected events
  •   Handling for backdated events, to provide a means to explain late notifications from late arriving data.
  •   Self-Service Administration and Configuration 


Monday, September 12, 2016

Microsoft Feature Wish List: Editable Grids in Adxstudio Portals for Dynamics CRM

When Microsoft acquired Adxstudio, it gained a powerful and flexible portal for Dynamics CRM.  A portal is essential for interacting with users outside your organization, such as customers, partners, suppliers and others.

My wishlist feature for today is an editable grid to allow users to easily add or edit multiple detail records from a web page.  For instance, it is handy to allow a grantee for Microsoft Grants Manager Plus to create a project budget and enter multiple budget line items from a single page.

Please correct me if this feature has been added since I last looked, or you have seen it in the Microsoft roadmap.

Friday, September 9, 2016

How Many CRMs Do You Need?

Source: Microsoft.com

Managing relationships with people is the heart of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, whether they are customers, vendors, business partners, constituents or other people. So in that sense, there is hardly any organization that doesn't do CRM even if they don't own CRM software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce.  The most common way to manage people is in your email such as Outlook contacts, or Excel spreadsheets with lists of people to whom you send mail or emails.

What we often find that our clients inadvertently end up with more than on CRM, because the same information on people is tracked in multiple systems.  Universities, for instance, may have separate systems for applicants, students, alumni, donors, and parents even though over time these may be the same people. Similarly, organizations that recruit members or employees end up tracking the same people over a long period of time.  The more overlapping CRM systems you maintain, the greater the risk of data inconsistency.

If your CRM consists of Outlook and Excel, ask yourself when you might outgrow this approach. Moving to a mature CRM product gives you much greater control over your data and provides the ability to do automated marketing outreach, sales tracking and much more than you can expect from a spreadsheet.

If you have multiple CRM systems that overlap, ask yourself whether the benefits of consolidating and standardizing these systems is worth the cost and the effort.  You could potentially save on software licensing as well as reduce the cost of training and support by moving to a common CRM platform.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Workflow Automation with Microsoft Flow and Azure Logic Apps

Source: Microsoft


In June 2016, Microsoft released the preview of its Flow workflow productivity app.  This app allows you to create transactions that span multiple software products in a similar way to competitors IFTTT and zapier.  For instance, I might want an incoming email to save attachments to SharePoint or Dropbox, or generate a notification by text for an email sent from a key contact.

You can start with a Flow template and customize it to your business needs. Flow doesn't require programming and is simple to configure.

Today Microsoft offers connections to 45 services including Office 365, Twitter, Dropbox, Salesforce, MailChimp, and Slack.  Microsoft is adding more services and improving the performance and reliability of Flow.

What is even more exciting to me is that Microsoft offers an industrial strength workflow app for business customers.  Flow templates can be migrated to Azure Logic Apps  which allow developers to build complex and scalable workflows, and to create new connectors to systems that are not covered out of the box.  Logic Apps was released into production in late July 2016.



There is even a BizTalk Server connector in preview now.  Often workflow conditions and parameters are more complex than can easily be captured in a configuration, so having support for code will make many more scenarios viable for Logic Apps.

The following video offers an introductory tutorial on Azure Logic Apps:


Although workflow software has been around for many years, no vendor has really claimed a leadership position or set a standard for the entire industry. Microsoft has the opportunity to do so with these products and related cloud offerings (Azure and Office 365).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

CRM and Marketing for Government Contractors



In earlier blog posts I have discussed how government contracting is different from other sales processes, and how to adapt your CRM system for the government capture (sales) process.

The traditional sales model which still prevails in government contracting is to target particular agencies and seek meetings with contracting officers and end customers.  There is no substitute for this sales activity on the ground, but government purchasers are slowly changing their behavior, and relying on online searches to find sources for products and services.

This trend increases the importance of marketing activities by government contractors, including better websites, social marketing, and search engine optimization.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM, especially combined with ClickDimensions, can help government contractors increase their visibility rapidly.

Here are some of the ways you can use CRM for marketing to government agencies:

  1. Create landing pages on your website and track the behavior of visitors who sign up for webinars, white papers, and other content.  ClickDimensions will add registered users to your CRM. 
  2. Use CRM marketing lists to automate outreach emails.
  3. Consider a blog if you have someone who can keep feeding the blog and has a voice that represents your company well. 
  4. Start a monthly company newsletter.  You can sign up for mine here. ClickDimensions will show you how many people are opening your newsletter and which articles are most popular. 
  5. Create social media channels for your company using the channels most appropriate to what you sell.  
  6. Cross market intensely.  If you create a new video on YouTube, be sure to post about it on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as your website. 
  7. Use CRM to track the success of your marketing campaigns all the way to opportunities that you win.
Close client relationships have allowed some government contractors to get away with sloppy or stale websites, and made them feel that they didn't need to spend time on writing whitepapers, sharing their expertise, or participating in a broader community.  This is no longer the case, as government mandates to move to the cloud for computing services are raising the visibility of companies that are primarily commercial rather than dedicated government contractors. 

In my experience, website traffic is growing much more slowly than social engagement.  Online marketing can build momentum over the long run but persistence is required to constantly create fresh content. 



Thursday, August 11, 2016

Onvia Releases Integration with Dynamics CRM for Government Contracts



Today Onvia, a leading provider of U.S. government contracting data, announced integration of its leading database on state and local contracting opportunities with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

This means that Onvia subscribers can search for business opportunities and add them to Dynamics CRM without rekeying information on the government agency or the opportunity.

Dynamics CRM is increasingly popular for government contractors, and Onvia is the first of the major data subscription services to provide this integration.  

Watch this video to see the integration in action: https://onvia.wistia.com/medias/y2ouf6638e 

Onvia adds Dynamics CRM integration to their Salesforce integration capabilities.

For more details, see the press release: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/onvia-reveals-new-integration-with-microsoft-dynamics-crm-300312209.html