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Estimating the Cost of Dynamics CRM Implementations: Part 7 -- Support

This week we examine alternatives and costs for supporting your Dynamics CRM (xRM) implementation. In the long run, it is not unusual for the support to end up costing more than the implementation itself, but cutting corners on support can put user satisfaction and adoption at risk.

The first step is to determine what support arrangement you have with Microsoft?   Who is authorized to create Microsoft support incidents?   Does your organization have assigned Microsoft technical support managers? Microsoft can help with product questions and issues that arise from software updates.   In most cases, they will not be familiar with your specific implementation. 

Next, do you have a help desk or do you need to hire an outside company to provide help desk services?   Do you need coverage during business hours or 24 hours x 7 days a week?  Will your users call your help desk to report their initial issue?

How will you handle enhancements to your solution? Do you intend to publish new versio…

Estimating the Cost of Dynamics CRM Implementations: Part 6 -- Training

No software implementation is successful without adoption, and most enterprise solutions require training in order to be adopted.    Training is often shortchanged in Dynamics CRM and xRM implementations. 

You should include training in your project plan, and start work on training materials as soon as use cases are created for the solution.     Analysis, development, testing, and training all should be tightly connected so you end up training to the requirements and usage scenarios you have identified.

Several options are available for training on CRM, including:
Custom hands-on classroom training in a lab environment, tailored to your specific implementation. This is the most intensive and expensive option, but is appropriate in many cases, especially for critical and complex solutions.Standard CRM classroom training.  Microsoft authorizes training centers around the world to deliver the standard approved training for its products.  Video training.  The content may be similar to cl…

Three Letters that Cost Government Millions

Federal, state and local governments waste millions or perhaps billions of dollars by making requests for proposals too vague, and hedging their bets with language which forces contractors to pad their estimates in order to reduce the risk of misunderstanding requirements and scope creep.

Just three letters -- "etc" -- account for significant waste.  We often see "etc." added to the end of a long list of requirements as if to protect the writer of the solicitation from an inadvertent omission. Other phrases are sometimes used in place of "etc." such as "including but not limited to."

Bidders have two options in handling ambiguous requests.   One is to bid low, hoping either that the unknown requirements will not be large and sink their project or planning to use change orders to cover the revelation of the unknown with additional funding.  The other option is to bid high, conservatively adding time and dollars to a bid to cover even what has no…

Estimating the Cost of Dynamics CRM Implementations: Part 5 -- Installation

How much time should you budget for installing and configuring Dynamics CRM?  

If you choose a cloud or hosted deployment, the installation will be done for you.     The only thing you will need to do that resembles installation is to install your customizations and set up your users.

For on premise installation, the cost can vary significantly.    We have spent from one day to two weeks or more, depending on the number of environments to be installed and the state of network and SQL Server infrastructure. One of the factors that causes delays is when many people are involved in managing different servers and networks. In a large enterprise, you can end up bouncing among people who have various permissions, trying to find the right person to do the right installation task.

If you are in a virtualized environment, you can save time by using standard server images and copying them for multiple Dynamics CRM environments. 

We have employed a technique which radically decreases the time…

Estimating the Cost of Dynamics CRM Implementations: Part 4 -- Integration

If you have been following this series, part four takes us from the relatively clear formulae of software licensing and the function-driven, gap analysis of customization, into the wilds of software integration.   The cost of integration cannot be derived from the number of users or even the complexity of the xRM solution.  It can only be determined with a thorough understanding of the systems to be integrated and the nature of the integration that is required.

We often encounter implementation solicitations that include integration requirements.  Usually, there is a line in the long list of requirements that says something like "integrate with our accounting, timesheets, federal systems, etc." We always say that the price of an unspecified feature cannot be specified.  In order words, without a detailed definition of how two systems will be integrated, an estimate of scope is useless. That little et cetera often found in requirements is of course the worst three letters you…

Estimating the Cost of a Dynamics CRM Implementation: Part 3 -- Customizations

In the last installment of our saga, we looked at the Microsoft licensing cost for a Dynamics CRM solution.    Now let's take a look at the cost of customizations and software development.  This is significantly more complex than deriving the licensing costs, and is derived based on functional requirements for the specific solution.

The least expensive solutions usually are for the most common CRM scenarios, such as sales force automation, customer service, and marketing (or outreach).   These scenarios match the out-of-the-box functionality of Dynamics CRM well to begin with.   You are likely to require some additional data elements and reports, and nearly certain to need some workflows to match your business processes, but will not need too many new fields or entities.

The most expensive xRM solutions are those that do not match the out-of-the-box entities, forms and reports, and which require integration with other systems.   At the extreme end of customization, the cost will…

Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Implementation -- Part 2: Software Licensing

The cost of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation includes software licensing, internal costs of the time of your staff, and sometimes hardware and professional services from Dynamics CRM specialists. 

To determine the cost of the software licensing, you must determine the deployment mode and choose which type of licenses you will need. You can start here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-purchase-support.aspx  The comprehensive source is here: http://crmpublish.blob.core.windows.net/docs/Pricing_Licensing_Guide.pdf   Keep on reading if you would like a briefer introduction to your options.  

Your reseller is best source for software pricing, and can create a quote based on your volume license agreement.  If your organization has an enterprise agreement for Microsoft products, it will offer the best prices.  

Counting Your Users and Servers

Dynamics CRM is licensed based on named users, so the first step in calculating costs is to count your users.      First, count int…

Estimating the Cost of a Dynamics CRM Implementation -- Part 1

One of the questions I am asked most frequently by clients is to estimate the cost of a software implementation project.   My most common answer, "it depends," is not satisfying for them or for me, so I am going to explore this topic in depth and offer an approach for estimating implementations of Dynamics CRM, especially the xRM approach which involves using CRM as a development platform for a line of business solution.

There are several approaches to project estimation which can produce results with a high degree of accuracy.  In all these approaches, the traditional trade-off triangle among time, cost, and features still applies.    If you want more features, the cost will increase. 

You can start with the easier items to estimate, the hardware and software.  For hardware, many organizations use standard server configurations, so costs are easy to determine.     Don't forget to include all the environments that will be needed.   Enterprise solutions usually call for …