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Dynamics 365 Implementation: Estimating Services Costs

In my previous post What does Dynamics 365 (formerly CRM) Cost?, we looked at the Microsoft subscription costs for Dynamics 365.    Now let's tackle the cost of customizations and software development.

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 365 well to begin with. 

Why Can't I Just Use Dynamics 365 with No Customizations?

Each business or organization that uses Dynamics 365 has some requirements that are not met with the product right out of the box.  Dynamics 365 is designed to allow configuration and customizations to make it work they way that you work. 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.

For instance, if you are automating your sales process, you may want to add fields to the Opportunities entity to track all the stages that you consider part of the sales process.  My company InfoStrat is a government contractor, so we added dozens of fields which show all the stages of a typical government sale as well as set-aside categories and other attributes of government work. These customizations are included in the InfoStrat Dynamics 365 for Government Contractors solution.

Even more customization is requirement for so-called xRM solutions which are those that do not match the out-of-the-box entities, forms and reports, and which require integration with other systems.

Here are some of the key items to count and characterize:

  1. Identify all the data elements you need to track, and map them to the Dynamics 365 data model.   This exercise will show which attributes you need to add to existing entities and which new custom entities you will need to create.
  2. Examine the user interface and determine whether you need customizations to the look and feel.   If you want distinct forms for each user role, for instance, the cost of the implementation (and subsequent maintenance) will increase.
  3. Enumerate and specify all the reports you will need.    Try to categorize them by complexity to simplify estimation.     We usually break them into simple (lists), moderate (some aggregation) and complex (multi-entity and more complicated calculations). Every Dynamics CRM implementation we have done requires some custom reports.   Be sure to take a look at Advanced Find to see if it can satisfy any of your reporting requirements.
  4. Determine which dashboards you will need.    Dashboards combine business graphs with views into records.    Dynamics 365 comes with standard dashboards for sales, marketing and customer service, but these may not make sense for xRM solutions, so you will want to create your own dashboards.
  5. Specify the workflows that will be created.  Again, categorize them into groups based on the complexity of the workflows.    If your workflow has a large number of exceptions you may want to reconsider whether it should be automated at all.

Armed with these lists and specifications, you can approach a Dynamics 365 expert and get a realistic idea of the cost.  If you are familiar with Dynamics 365 yourself, you can use these metrics to create your own estimate.   For instance, you may want to plan four hours for a simple report and twenty hours to create a complex report.

Related posts: See our Dynamics 365 subscription cost calculator

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