Friday, December 20, 2013

Dynamics CRM Customizations for Government Contractors

If your business focuses on government contracting, you can tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to help you manage your business development efforts.  Out of the box, Dynamics CRM is missing some of the data elements you will need to track opportunities, and the standard business processes will probably not match your requirements.

You may want to consider how you approach marketing and determine whether or not you want to use the Leads entity or purchase mailing lists for marketing purposes.  Our experience is that many traditional marketing approaches do not work well for government customers.  One reason is that government separates the people who need products and services from people who purchase them.

You can populate the Accounts entity with all the agencies and sub-agencies that you sell to.  Be sure to enter the data to reflect the hierarchical nature of government agencies, departments, branches and offices. This data is available from several sources for import if you would like to speed up the process.  You should be sure to enter the purchasing contacts as well as the actual customers for your company.

Opportunities requires the greatest number of additional fields such as contract type, contract vehicle, and provisions for the key dates in the proposal process such as sources sought, request for information, request for proposal, orals, and best and final offer.

If, like most government contractors, you join teams for contract pursuits, but sure to customize Dynamics CRM so that the teaming relationships are accurately reflected.

SharePoint is an excellent tool for managing the proposal documents.  Dynamics CRM has built-in integration with SharePoint, but you may want a more sophisticated approach to create document libraries and assign proposal roles.

InfoStrat's Dynamics CRM solution for government contractors provides these customizations and additional features to streamline the government contract sales process.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Microsoft Dynamics for Government Contractors

A recent article in the Washington Post told the story of the rise of Deltek, a company that pioneered research and accounting for government contractors.  According to the article, the company has virtually cornered the software market in government contractors because it is perceived as the only choice for companies that want to feel secure in compliance with government accounting rules.  Government auditors make contractors feel like they are taking a risk if they choose anything other than Deltek.

It turns out that there are alternatives to Deltek which may be better choices for many government contractors.  Microsoft and its implementation partners offer the Microsoft Dynamics family of products which can fulfill the needs of large and small government contractors.

McGladrey, for instance, offers Dynamics SL accounting software which has been tailored to the needs of government contractors.   Pleasant Valley Business Solutions has helped government contractors migrate from Deltek Costpoint to Dynamics NAV with its solution. For manufacturers,  To Increase and Dynamics AX provide a powerful alternative to Deltek.

When it comes to business development, InfoStrat has tailored Dynamics CRM to suit the needs of government contractors by adding workflows that reflect the stages of a government contract pursuit, and integrating with other Dynamics products. 

NEXT:  I will discuss Dynamics CRM customizations that most government contractors need. 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Microsoft Cloud, Hybrid and On Premise Options -- Update from the Field

InfoStrat has witnessed growing interest in cloud computing among its customers, but not as much movement as you might expect based on the amount of press received from cloud computing.  Our primary customers are public sector: federal government, state and local government, and education.  These are not usually the first to implement new technology, so they tend to lag behind trends.   Nonetheless, we are seeing solicitations which either call for cloud deployment or request bids for both cloud and on premise deployment.

Another barrier to cloud computing is that government agencies impose security standards for computing solutions, and cloud providers are scrambling to achieve certifications such as FISMA and FedRAMP which are needed by federal agencies. 

Our solutions are based on the Microsoft platform, especially SQL Server, Dynamics CRM, and SharePoint.  Most of our clients own traditional volume licenses for these Microsoft products, and Microsoft affords an unusual flexibility to combine on premise with cloud options. 

Microsoft Office 365 is picking up momentum among our government clients, especially for its email capabilities. 

Microsoft Azure allows our clients greater control over the cloud environment than is available with Office 365 or Dynamics CRM Online.  It provides cloud infrastructure and is a way to get to the cloud quickly but still have control to manage your servers as if they were virtual servers in your data center.  Recently one of our clients chose Azure for its SharePoint requirements because of this greater flexibility to configure and integrate.

We welcome the move to cloud computing because it allows us to provide the same level of performance to all our clients and be less dependent on the unique attributes (and sometimes politics) of their infrastructure.