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Dynamics CRM: What is this XRM Thing?

In my white paper, I discussed using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a development platform for solutions that go beyond the traditional definition of customer relationship management. This trend is getting wider exposure and has resulted in a new acronym, XRM, where the X stands for whatever solution you might need which is a good fit for the CRM platform.

As Dylan Haskins reported in his blog, David Yack the CTO of Colorado Technology Consultants, published a book a few weeks ago called CRM as a Rapid Development Platform.

As I talk with clients and technologists, I'm finding more and more creative uses to which they are applying Dynamics CRM. For instance, this year alone I have seen public sector solutions such as:
  • Government recruiting
  • Consumer fraud case management
  • Electronic permitting
  • Task management
  • Event management
  • Asset management
  • Nuisance abatement
  • Contagious disease tracking, and
  • Field inspection
Does this mean that CRM is a Swiss Army knife? Yes, in a way it is a flexible tool that has many uses. But what I really see from CRM is the natural evolution of the languages, tools and frameworks we have worked with for decades to build business solutions. Remember 4GL, code generators, and CASE tools? All these were designed to simplify custom software development, encourage more efficient coding, and reduce technical risk. CRM does much the same thing.

For public sector, the stakes are high. It is not hard to find prominent examples of failed IT projects that cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Would CRM have prevented these trainwrecks? Hard to say, but there is potential for significant cost (and time) savings by using this development platform. Visionary government IT professionals will certainly evaluate this option and compare it to traditional custom development.

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