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Showing posts from October, 2015

Dynamics CRM and Government Contracting

My company InfoStrat has developed solutions for government contractors to get the most out of Microsoft Dynamics products, and is a member of the Microsoft GovCon Alliance.

Our most important solution is Dynamics CRM for Government Contractors.  It contains customizations to Dynamics CRM which allow you to track the entire government capture management process, including all the stages and decision points (called gates in the Shipley sales model) that government contractors go through from targeting an agency to eventually winning a contract award.  Dynamics CRM automates these steps using business process flows.



Because Dynamics CRM is easy to customize, it pays to make it conform to your business processes and to reflect the differentiation that your company brings to the market. Government contractors differ from one another based on their product and service offerings, and how they sell to government.  For instance, a military aircraft manufacturer looks at the procurement proces…

10 Best Practices for Online Customer Service

Online customer service is being adopted by a growing number of companies, government agencies, and non-profits.  It is easier and less expensive than ever to provide online knowledge bases, live chat, and social channels for customer service in addition to call centers.



If you are just starting on the journey of online customer service, you may want to start with some fundamental best practices to chart your course.

Start with executive commitment. Customer service requires significant resources and perseverance, and will become an ongoing task that will grow along with the demands of customers.  Success is unlikely without the explicit support of senior executives.  Put yourself in the customer's shoes.  Many products and services are becoming more complicated with each new version, and customers can be overwhelmed with the pace of change.  Try to consider how a new customer regards your products and find a way to fill the gap in knowledge. Share helpful content.  Create a feedba…

You May Not Need a GSA Schedule -- At Least Not Yet

When you decide to pursue government contracts, the first thing you may be asked is whether you have a GSA Schedule -- the most widely used contract for federal, state and local agencies to purchase goods and services.

A good place to start to learn more is the official GSA FAQ: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/122123

In general, government contractors need contract vehicles, and many will win a place on the GSA Schedule. Before you reach for your checkbook to hire a company to help you with your GSA Schedule, consider some cases in which you may want to wait:

Yours is a new company.  GSA uses past performance and pricing to validate you as a government supplier. For example, GSA Schedule 70 for information technology calls for two years in business.You haven't nailed down your commercial pricing. GSA looks for a track record of pricing, and commercial prices are often the basis for government pricing.You aren't prepared to handle the administrative burden.  Government contra…

Overzealous Office Automation

In the quest for efficiency, it's easy to get caught up in a desire to automate all the processes of your business.  Sometimes, however, you can go too far and hurt your performance or productivity by excessive automation.

This is another way of saying that software design can fall into traps where it is needlessly complex, fails to deal with abnormalities that arise, or provides unhelpful feedback to users.

One of the warning signs of excessive automation is when users experience exceptions to the standard process and then stop using the system and fall back to manual processes.  In many cases, business rules are difficult to extract from users and may be so oversimplified or needlessly complex that when you automate a process it becomes too brittle to stand up to the real world.

The best way to validate how far to go with automating tasks is to get feedback from users.  Doing comparative tests with features can identify opportunities to simplify your system.

When a new softwa…

Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 Bundle

Microsoft has dropped the price of Dynamics CRM Online for its Office 365 subscribers.  This has previously been available only during limited time promotions.  Newly released pricing for U.S. customers is $48/user/month for Dynamics CRM Online Professional for Office 365 users.


Your pricing may be different depending on your volume licensing plan.

With each successive version of Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft has added new modules for marketing, social, customer service and other functions, so the Dynamics CRM that you purchase today is more powerful than earlier versions.

Microsoft offers a sales audit to help you improve the performance of your sales team with Dynamics CRM.

For more complete coverage of Dynamics CRM implementation costs, see my post.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Deployment: Estimating Costs

One of the questions I am asked most frequently by clients is to estimate the cost of a CRM project. This blog post offers an approach for estimating implementations of Dynamics CRM. If you are in a big hurry, go straight to the InfoStrat CRM cost calculator.

Choosing the Deployment Model
One of the advantages of Dynamics CRM is that you may deploy your solution on premise at your office, in the Microsoft cloud, or at a hosting facility. Your choice of deployment options will affect the licensing or subscription cost.

You can start here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-purchase-support.aspx The comprehensive source is here:https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699677.aspx

Dynamics CRM Online
Cloud-hosted Dynamics CRM is the easiest deployment model to deploy and to price.

You can choose from the following plans:

Essential. Provides access to custom applications built on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform without using the Dynamics CRM user interface. B…

End of the Computing Platform Debates?

I am relieved that some of the debates on computing platforms are finally coming to an end.  Few discussions are more boring than hearing people debate on Windows v. Macintosh, or Android v. iOS, or .Net v. Java.

It's not that competition among hardware and software vendors has come to an end, but in some cases the value of cooperation and interoperability seems to have won out.  This is certainly the case for the new Microsoft, which has embraced all platforms, from offering Office products for iPhone and iPad to providing top drawer cloud hosting for Linux.

Hardware manufacturers are spreading their bets across multiple software platforms as well.  The market for tablets becomes more diverse each year, and the line between tablets, phones, notebooks and laptops has been blurred as phones grow, notebooks sport removable keyboards, and tablets take on the power of desktops.

Perhaps we are on the verge of a peace dividend for all technology consumers.