Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Getting the Most from Dynamics CRM Online -- Synchronous v Asynchronous Workflows


This video shows highlights from the InfoStrat March 2015 seminar "Getting the Most Out of Dynamics CRM Online" presented by Dmitri Riz, the leader of the InfoStrat Dynamics CRM practice.  This is the second part of a series of blog posts.  The first is Benefits and Cloud Thinking.



In order to make your CRM workflows perform best, you need to understand the difference between synchronous and asynchronous workflows so you can choose which is appropriate for your applications.



Synchronous workflows are a new feature that was introduced in Dynamics CRM 2013.  Unlike asynchronous workflows which are sent to a queue, synchronous workflows execute in a single transaction. 

This means you can eliminate the need for many plug-ins which were created for previous versions of Dynamics CRM.

You may want to disable synchronous workflows during import operations, because they will could be triggered by each new record and significantly slow down the import process.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting the Most from Dynamics CRM Online -- Benefits and Cloud Thinking

The following are highlights from a March 2015 InfoStrat seminar on "Getting the Most from Dynamics CRM Online" in Washington, DC.  Here is a video highlight from the introductory section of the presentation:


We've all heard about the benefits of moving to the cloud, such as cost savings, security, disaster recovery, and flexibility.
 
 
 
Microsoft is making some of its largest investments in the cloud.  
 
 
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online gives you a number of benefits, such as:
  1. Always up to date with the latest versions and patches
  2. Eliminate costs of hardware infrastructure
  3. Supports multiple environments (such as dev, test and production)
  4. Great flexibility and quick deployment
  5. Support for government security standards
  6. State of the art data center



 
Microsoft has recently launched a special version of Dynamics CRM Online which is for U.S. government customers.  Dynamics CRM Online for Government is hosted at data centers in the United States and meets rigorous security requirements.
 
 
 



CRM Online for Government is part of the overall Microsoft Government Cloud which also includes Azure and Office 365.



To really get the most out of the Microsoft cloud, you need to think big.  If all you're going to do is duplicate your current infrastructure in the cloud, you are not being ambitious enough.  Try and think of ways that the cloud lets you do things that were difficult or impossible to do with traditional on premise hardware.







Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Standalone CRM is Not Enough

Nearly every organization wants to serve its customers and constituents better, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is seen as the answer to be better connected and more responsive to the needs of those your company, association or government agency serves.

CRM gives you a channel through which you can interact, and excellent means of tracking these customer interactions.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for instance, tracks customer service calls, orders, quotes, and marketing outreach.  With Parature for Dynamics, you get additional channels of online chat and social media. 

While CRM is a great start, and arguably essential to improving customer service, it is not enough without being integrated with other systems in your organization.  Being able to reach a customer service representative quickly is good only if that person can resolve your problem, and the information needed to solve the problem is likely in other system, such as accounting, manufacturing, orders, or appointment scheduling.

When InfoStrat worked on a Dynamics CRM implementation at a large U.S. federal agency, it required integration with over a dozen systems in order to provide all the visibility needed by a customer service representative. 

Fortunately, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a modern software platform based on open standards such as web services, and lends itself to integration.  Along with other integration tools on the Microsoft development platform, you can provide an excellent user experience for customer service reps and customers alike.

So the moral of the story is to give the customer service reps access to all the data that they need so they can improve the satisfaction of all your customers.  Don't stop with just a CRM system that let's you keep score -- go the full distance so they can make it to the customer satisfaction finish line.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Microsoft Convergence 2015 Roundup and Pictures

Today marks the conclusion of the Microsoft Convergence 2015 conference.  It's time to say goodbye to the host city of Atlanta for now, and go home to share all the information I have learned as an attendee with my staff back in Washington.

Should have turned on my pedometer to track all the miles walked in the convention center:

 
Convergence is overwhelming in the number of sessions, the size and diversity of the attendees, and the sheer volume of information and interactions packed into four days.

Microsoft left its imprint on Atlanta, and was prominent in billboards in the area:

 
The food was great, not only at the conference venue but the downtown restaurants.  I was treated to an amazing dinner by Bill Aiton of SSi Consulting, a top Dynamics GP partner, at Ray's in the City. From the raw bar to the sushi to the scallops and risotto, they made the shore seem closer than I think it may be to Atlanta.

Microsoft Public Sector hosted a tasty reception at White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails. It was fun to see old friends and meet new friends in a southern hipster setting. Yes, tattoos are required for all the bartenders and waiters.



My favorite keynote speaker was Seth Godin.  Quite inspirational and just like you would expect him if you have read his books:


 
 
I will miss my twilight view from the fiftieth floor of the opulent Westin Peachtree Plaza:

 
Can you have too much coffee at a convention?  I don't think so:



My favorite session was the government contractor (GovCon) discussion hosted by Microsoft's Elliott Ichimura. Elliott is the leader of the Microsoft GovCon Alliance.  He put together an informal discussion on how government contractors are getting the most out of Microsoft Dynamics products.


 
I tried to reduce my carbon footprint by taking the metro in DC and in Atlanta to get together airport.  Roundrip on the subway is $5 in Atlanta.

 
Now all I can do is drink plenty of water, sleep, and look forward to Convergence next year.
 
 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Getting the Most Out of Dynamics CRM Online

Thank you to all who attended our seminar on how to get the most out of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online this week.  We appreciate the opportunity to hear about your business needs and share our experience working with Dynamics CRM Online. 

For those who were unable to attend, here are some highlights:

1. The most successful implementations start with a cloud-centered attitude.  Think about ways that cloud deployment can make your users even more successful than on premise deployment.
2. Use Azure servers to build a data warehouse which will allow better reporting and data visualization from your CRM data.
3. Take advantage of Microsoft licensing that allows us to use cloud subscriptions for on premise deployments while you are migrating.
4. Stay current with software upgrades, and be sure to have enough environments to allow you to support the current and the next version adequately for testing.
5. SharePoint can be a great complement to Dynamics CRM Online.  You have many deployment models and integration points from which to choose.
6. Look at third party tools for integration, backup and data migration.
7. Understand the rules of the road for a shared environment, and how you can request help from Microsoft.
8. Find out whether you are eligible for Dynamics CRM Online Government.

Based on suggestions from attendees, our next seminar will be devoted to Dynamics CRM integration.