Monday, October 30, 2017

Migrating from Parature to Microsoft Dynamics 365: Part 2


On October 9, 2017, Microsoft released a migration tool to help its Parature customer service customers migrate to Microsoft Dynamics 365.   This blog post is a continuation of the first post in the Parature migration series.

The Parature migration tool provides capabilities to export data from Parature, map the data to Dynamics 365 fields, and configure a Dynamics 365 portal to replace the Parature customer service portal functionality. The tool is accompanied by training videos. 

In order to use the migration tool, you must be a Parature customer and request access from Microsoft technical support.  The tool is tied to your specific instance of Parature, so it requires configuration by Microsoft before you can use it.  It includes solutions that are installed in your instance of Dynamics 365.

Microsoft provides mapping of fields for entities such as contacts, accounts, cases (trouble tickets) and knowledge base articles.  In addition, the tool supports mapping of your custom fields. You can save your configurations and perform as many test migrations as necessary.

Migrating your data from Parature to Dynamics 365 provides an opportunity for data cleansing.  For instance, you may want to delete fake email account records if you receive online support inquiries from bogus email addresses or identities.  Many organizations are hit by spammers who use support email aliases because they are published on your website and discovered through searches for email addresses.

You could also clean up your data further if desired by removing erroneous cases that do not contribute to improving your customer service or are not used to derive your case performance metrics.  These may be cases submitted by SPAM accounts but they could also be other forms on illegitimate cases.

Part 3 of this series will focus on the migration of the customer service portal.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Amazing Subscription Deal for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Marketing -- For Small Business



My blog is not usually focused on bargain hunting, but Microsoft is offering a promotion for a limited time which represents more than fifty percent off the normal price of a Dynamics 365 Sales subscription for qualifying small businesses.  The offer is called Dynamics 365 for Sales and Customer Service, Enterprise Editions (SMB Offer) and the offer ID is 4F01C23A-C125-4E94-AAC4-E7B741C98052.

For U.S. customers, contact sales@infostrat.com for a price quote.

Sales Only.  A temporary promotional SKU for a version of Dynamics 365 for Sales, Enterprise edition is available for up to 50 users with an estimated retail price of USD $40/user/month compared to the standard retail price of $95/user/month.

Sales and Limited Marketing. A similar version is available which includes sales and limited marketing functions for $65/user/month.

As you may know, Microsoft is planning to release Business Editions of Dynamics 365 for small business, but has experienced delays in getting them to market.   The promotion is intended to bridge the gap before the new Business Edition is available.  Only new customers are eligible for the promotions.

Here are the details from the information sheet:

Dynamics 365 for Sales, Enterprise edition (SMB Offer). A temporary SKU for a version of Dynamics 365 for Sales, Enterprise edition is available with an estimated retail price of USD $40/user/month. This SKU includes both the Sales functionality and the basic Marketing elements currently within Dynamics CRM Online (e.g. campaign and lead management, but not Microsoft Dynamics Marketing). The temporary SKU does not include access to any Customer Service functionality, as that is now part of the Customer Service application within the Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition. Use rights of this temporary SKU are identical to those of the regular Dynamics 365 for Sales, Enterprise edition license, except there is no access to Operations, and there are no dual use rights. 

Dynamics 365 for Sales and Customer Service, Enterprise edition (SMB Offer). Dynamics 365 for Sales and Customer Service, Enterprise edition is available with an estimated retail price of USD $65/user/month. This SKU includes the functionality of the current Sales, Enterprise edition, and the Customer Service, Enterprise edition. Use rights of this temporary SKU are identical to those of the regular Dynamics 365 for Sales, Enterprise edition and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Enterprise edition licenses combined, except there is no access to Operations, and there are no dual use rights.

Dynamics 365 for Team Members, Enterprise edition (SMB Offer). New customers that purchase the above SKUs will also be able to obtain a version of Team Members, Enterprise edition targeted at SMB customers with an estimated retail price of $5/user/month, which is in alignment with the current Dynamics 365 Business edition pricing. Use rights of this temporary SKU are identical to those of the regular Dynamics 365 for Team Members, Enterprise edition, except there is no access to Operations, and there are no dual use rights.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Grant Management with FedRAMP Certification: Microsoft Dynamics 365


Federal agencies that administer grant programs are obligated to move to cloud solutions where possible, while maintaining adherence with security regulations such as FedRAMP which set high standards for cloud data centers.

Dynamics 365 U.S. Government was granted a FedRAMP Agency ATO at the Moderate Impact Level by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Although the scope of the certification is limited to the Government Community Cloud, Dynamics 365 U.S. Government business and enterprise plans operate following the same set of stringent FedRAMP controls. For instance, Microsoft operates cloud data centers in the United States that are staffed by U.S. citizens only.

Grants Manager Plus running on the Microsoft Government Cloud allows agencies to fulfill their mission as grantors with a cloud solution that has achieved FedRAMP compliance.

Grantees submit applications and post-award reports through a grants portal. 
The Grants Manager Plus solution accelerator is an all-in-one, integrated solution that simplifies the grants process from initial solicitation through review, scoring, award, payment processing and post award reporting.  Powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365, it includes optional integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations to offer a financial back-end process, such as authorization of funding sources and processing of payment requests from Grants Manager Plus.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dynamics 365 for Government Contractors (GovCon) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

One of InfoStrat's most popular solutions is Dynamics 365 for Government Contractors (GovCon).

Here are some answers to frequently asked question on this solution:
  1. Can I add new fields to the solution?  -- Yes, the solution is fully customizable and you can add your own new fields to any form, view or report.
  2. Does Dynamics 365 for GovCon work on mobile devices?  -- Yes, Microsoft offers mobile apps for all the most popular platforms including iPhone, iPad, and Android phone and tablets.
  3. Does Dynamics 365 connect with bid data systems such as Deltek and Onvia?  -- Some information services, such as Onvia, offer integration with Dynamics 365.  Others require third party solutions such as the InfoStrat integration with Deltek GovWin IQ.
  4. What do customers typically customize for their unique requirements? -- Not all contractors follow the same steps in the capture process.  Most clients will tailor the business process to add or remove steps in order to match their sales methodology.  Often clients have their own preferences for reports such as changing sorting, graphs, and other ways to render data.
  5. How long does an implementation take? -- The InfoStrat QuickStart for GovCon has your company up and running in one week.  Larger implementations with multiple departments and processes take longer. 
  6. How are teaming partners supported? -- Our clients often use SharePoint and OneDrive to share documents with teaming partners. 
  7. Which edition of Dynamics 365 is needed for GovCon? -- The capture management solution runs on Dynamics 365 for Sales (enterprise edition).

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Onvia 8 Now Available: Find Government Contracting Opportunities

Onvia recently shipped a new version of its government contracting information service - Onvia 8.

The latest version brings a clean, new  interface along with many new search features:



 Onvia now provides better support for mobile devices than ever:



For me, one of the most exciting features is integration with CRM systems.  Onvia supports Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce, the two most popular CRM systems in the world.

A video demo is available:


Onvia 8 | Onvia


This means that you can view an opportunity in Onvia and quickly convert it to an opportunity in CRM, along with information on the government agencies and contacts related to the opportunity.

Onvia is an excellent complement to InfoStrat's GovCon CRM solution.  With Onvia, you can find opportunities across the country that you would have otherwise overlooked, and gain market intelligence to make your proposals more competitive.

For more posts on CRM for government contracting, see:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Grant Management Portal: What to Include



If your government agency or non-profit provides grants, your applicants and grantees may expect a web portal to apply for a grant, check on that status of their applications, and submit post-award reports.  Grant software such as Microsoft Grants Manager Plus offer portals which allow you to interact with your data via the portal rather than store the data in a second place and replicate the data.

This blog post offers ideas for how to get the most out of your grantee portal, and which features and content to include in your implementation.

Consider which elements you will offer to anonymous users and which will be visible only to applicants and grantees who log in.

Grant Program Background

The portal may be the first place that the public and grant applicants learn about your programs.  It is a place to tell your story, with text, photos and videos that show how your grants make an impact.

Dynamic content can include reports, graphs and maps showing who receives grants and how they are spent.  For instance, several of our clients included maps showing the impact of economic stimulus spending on public infrastructure.

Eligibility Rules and Application Instructions

The portal should contain eligibility information for prospective grantees, and contact information for grant managers or your help desk where applicants can turn for additional information.  This is general static information which can be conveyed through HTML pages or links to documents as appropriate.

Online Applications

Applicants often expect to be able to apply online. Applications usually consist of online forms along with file attachments for backup materials such as budgets or longer narratives.  Be sure that your portal saves data often so that applicants don't lose data they enter in an incomplete application.  Similarly, unless they are quite simple, most grant applications are not finished in a single session. You should allow applicants to save their work and resume the application later.

Consider including training videos, especially if your applications or process are complex.

Grantee Documents and Templates

In addition to application forms, you may want to provide document and spreadsheet templates to your prospective applicants.  Documents such as these may be stored on your web server or in SharePoint or another document management system.

Grantee Login

Before they apply, you will want applicants to create user accounts and provide their profile information.  Microsoft Dynamics portal provides facilities for creating accounts, changing passwords, and lost password recovery.  Consider using multi-factor authentication, such as sending a confirmation code to a mobile phone, if this is appropriate for your organization.

Application Status

The portal should allow authenticated (logged on) applicants to view the status of their grants and applications.   Often this is shown as a table on their home page.

Payment Requests

The portal can allow grantees to submit payment requests based on grant activities.  These requests may be tied with status reports.  Often the payment request is integrated with the financial management system to initiate the process of reviewing and issuing the payment.

Post Award Reports

One of the most valuable functions of a grants portal is to allow grantees to submit periodic post award reports.  These reports often include attachments with material such as receipts or spending details.

For more information on grant management and Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, see my posts:

Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
6 Things to Look for in Grant Management Software
Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Implementation
Grants Manager Plus: Theme and Variations
Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Online Resources for Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Portal Options for Microsoft Grants Manager
Statewide Grant Management Systems
Usage Scenarios for Microsoft Grants Manager

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Grant Management for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

Hurricane Harvey reminds us that Americans are vulnerable to natural disasters which can be devastating, especially to low income cities and counties.  Federal grants are key to recovery and rebuilding efforts.

As explained on its website, "HUD provides flexible grants to help cities, counties, and States recover from Presidentially declared disasters, especially in low-income areas, subject to availability of supplemental appropriations. In response to Presidentially declared disasters, Congress may appropriate additional funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program as Disaster Recovery grants to rebuild the affected areas and provide crucial seed money to start the recovery process. Since CDBG Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) assistance may fund a broad range of recovery activities, HUD can help communities and neighborhoods that otherwise might not recover due to limited resources."

Grants Manager Plus for Microsoft Dynamics 365 includes key functions needed for managing Community Development Block Grants, allowing CDBG recipients and sub-recipients at all levels of state and local government to track their applications, grants, post-award reports and payments.

To tailor Grants Manager Plus for your unique requirements, it may be integrated with your financial management system to process payment requests and report on budgets using your chart of accounts.

The solution is based on Microsoft Dynamics 365, and may be hosted online by Microsoft or on premises at a customer's data center.  It allows sub-recipients to access information through the Microsoft Dynamics Portal, a website which is simple to use for applications and reporting.

You can use SharePoint to store documents such as application forms and templates with Microsoft's included integration services.

For more information on grant management and Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, see my posts:

Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
6 Things to Look for in Grant Management Software
Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Implementation
Grants Manager Plus: Theme and Variations
Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Online Resources for Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Portal Options for Microsoft Grants Manager
Statewide Grant Management Systems
Usage Scenarios for Microsoft Grants Manager