Thursday, May 22, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Small Business

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is a great solution for small businesses because you don't need to worry about the server infrastructure or purchasing server software licenses.  But what if you need fewer than the minimum five users for Dynamics CRM Online?

Microsoft publishes a list of three options for small businesses to track their sales activities:

http://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/xrm/archive/2014/04/21/microsoft-crm-options-for-small-businesses.aspx

One of them is Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM: a cloud-based CRM solution from xRM, a Microsoft partner that specializes in CRM and private cloud solutions. Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is priced at the same monthly subscription rates as Dynamics CRM Online but does not have a minimum number of users.  It requires an initial setup fee of $50 in addition to the monthly subscriptions. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Government Contractors: Tailoring Your CRM to Shipley Processes

Shipley Associates (www.shipleywins.com) has developed the best known business development processes for government contractors.  The Shipley seven-phase process has been proven to help government contractors increase their win rate and achieve growth in new contracts. According to their publication Capturing Federal Business:

"Rarely, though, are all steps shown appropriate for a particular company or a given business opportunity.  Successful business development organizations will tailed this model to reflect characteristics and time scales of their markets, leaving out or adjusting tasks if necessary."

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors lends itself to tailoring, so you can configure automated business processes to match the needs of your company and the type of opportunities you pursue.  You can quickly add or delete fields, and design workflows using a wizard user interface.  As I said in a February blog post, one size does not fill all for government contractors. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three Types of Mobile Apps for Dynamics CRM

Mobile clients are big news in Dynamics CRM 2013.  If you are serious about mobile CRM, you will need to choose from among three types of mobile apps: Microsoft apps, third party apps, and custom apps.  Each of these has strengths and weaknesses.

The easiest path is to experiment with mobile CRM is to download the free Microsoft for your device. 

Today, Microsoft offers its own official, supported mobile clients for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone. Microsoft has made all its apps look similar to the web experience on Windows 8.



The second option is to buy a third party mobile client for Dynamics CRM. such as Resco or CWR Mobility. Third party providers have offered mobile clients longer than Microsoft.  In some ways, they are more fully featured and offer the ability to customize in ways that are not supported by Microsoft.  Resco, for instance, offers the Woodford solution which is installed in Dynamics CRM to allow CRM administrators to configure the mobile experience from within Dynamics CRM.



The most expensive and difficult option is to write a custom mobile app for Dynamics CRM.  You must choose a development platform and language and design the app from the ground up. You could choose a native development tool or use a cross-platform development tool such as Appcelerator or Xamarin.

The advantage of a custom app is that you can optimize the user experience. You can make your iOS app look and feel exactly like an iOS app and follow the conventions of the platform.  You can have each app take advantage of the unique form factor and features of the mobile hardware.  You can optimize a user experience for a task, reducing menus and navigation to the bare minimum.  For instance, a delivery driver or airline gate agent might need a closely tailored user experience for enhanced speed and accuracy.  The following is a screen from the InfoStrat mobile Constituent Manager solution for Android. It allows the user to identify a point on the map using their GPS coordinates.




One important consideration is where you have deployed your Dynamics CRM solution.   Some apps only work with Dynamics CRM Online, and others only work with on premise deployments.  For Microsoft mobile apps, you must configure your Dynamics CRM deployment to be Internet-facing.   Here is a list of troubleshooting hints for mobile and IFD.






Friday, May 9, 2014

Understanding the Client Types for Dynamics CRM Online

The most frequent question I receive regarding Dynamics CRM licensing relates to the three types of client software licenses available: Professional, Basic and Essential.  Which is the right one for your users?

The easiest option is to buy all Professional licenses because they represent the superset of all the Dynamics CRM features.  Your admin users, power users, and others who use all or nearly all features will need these licenses. 

At the other extreme is the Essential license.  This license is for internal users (in your organization) who will interact with Dynamics CRM through custom applications or a portal, and who do not need to access the Dynamics CRM 2013 user interface at all. This is the least expensive license and might be appropriate for a large number of users with light functionality needs. For instance, if you are using Dynamics CRM for a helpdesk, you could let users start or check on the status of a trouble ticket on a web page.  The hidden cost of Essential licenses is that someone must build a webpage or other application to provide a user interface to Dynamics CRM.

In the middle of these options is the Basic license.  Unlike Essential, it gives the user access to the Dynamics CRM user interface, but restricts which entities are included.  Be sure to take a close look at your requirements before choosing Basic instead of Professional.

For more information, contact your Microsoft representative or see the Dynamics CRM cost calculator.  Complete licensing guides are available for on premises and CRM Online.