Monday, March 27, 2017

Account-Based Marketing with Dynamics 365 and ClickDimensions

http://terminus.com/expanding-new-frontier-account-based-marketing/
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a sales strategy that starts by identifying companies or other organizations that are likely customers and targeting people at those organization rather than gathering leads from broadly-based marketing initiatives.  Interest in ABM has been growing, and a number of companies such as Terminus and Marketo offer software tools to help with your ABM efforts.

Users of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and ClickDimensions already own some of the key tools for an effective account-based marketing approach.  Here are ways you can use what you own:
  1. Microsoft Dynamics 365 includes Insights powered by InsideView to allow you to look up companies and contacts based on your search criteria.  This is a good way to jumpstart your account list and learn about a company's people, products and revenue.
  2. Use Dynamics 365 Marketing Lists to track the accounts you are targeting. As you refine your approach you are likely to create more lists as you go.  
  3. Create nurture campaigns in ClickDimensions to send emails such as electronic newsletters and webinar invitations to your marketing lists. 
  4. Use Komiko or experiment with the new Relationship Insights for Dynamics 365 app.  These tools track email interactions with contacts and accounts to explore relationships between activities and sales. 
  5. Reconsider how you look at the traditional sales funnel.  Consider the inverted funnel shown at the top of this page and compare it to your funnel.  To succeed you will need to spend time cultivating your target list of people and perhaps the accounts that you target as well (unless these have been predetermined). 
  6. Use the email and web analytics in ClickDimensions to check on how your marketing messages are being received.  Which emails are opened?  Which calls to action are heeded? What are the strongest and weakest of your offerings?
Don't forget that the most likely new sales are to your existing customers, so be sure to consider how you can keep them engaged using the same tools you might use for new customers but tailored based on your relationship.

Related posts:
from Steve Mordue:

from this blog:

Monday, March 20, 2017

5 Warning Signs Your Software Development is Not Agile

Source: Digital.gov https://www.digitalgov.gov/2015/01/16/how-to-run-an-agile-project-in-government/ 

The most popular software development methodology today is called Agile, and is based on short, iterations called sprints which are designed to quickly produce results. The software in progress is used to get further input from users. Agile is designed to meet customer requirements more quickly than approaches which emphasized production of documents which would only become working software month or years later.

Nearly everyone claims their approach to software development is Agile, and formal solicitations from government and commercial customers often ask for promises to use Agile as well as industry certifications for project personnel such as "scrum masters" who lead the sprints.

Just because software developers say they are using Agile does not make it so.  My company InfoStrat is often called in to rescue projects that are supposedly Agile but are running behind or heading in the wrong direction.  Here are some warning signs that we look for to find out that a project has departed from Agile principles:

  1. There is nothing to demo. In an Agile project, each sprint results in deliverables which should work even if they are not functionally complete.  If you ask for a demo and there is nothing to show, be suspicious. 
  2. Form is valued over function.  In Agile, the goal is working software, but some projects are more focused on creating documentation than making a system work.
  3. Users are nowhere to be seen. Agile cannot work without input and feedback from users.  If you attend meetings to discuss a project and notice that users are missing, this could mean they are being kept at arms length from the project.
  4. People and teams disappear from time to time. A common feature of Agile is a short, daily meeting called a stand-up in which project participants provide updates.  Frequent in-person or online meetings are common in Agile development. 
  5. The development team is not motivated. Software development depends on people, not just their individual skills but also the way they work together as a group.  This is true for any software development methodology, but in Agile personnel weaknesses are hard to hide. 

If your software project shows any of these symptoms, you could be in big trouble. Good development teams take take for introspection and improving their processes, so you can encourage them to remedy these symptoms and refocus on what really matters for your project.

Although we work with technology, software development is a people business.  There are many ways to stifle performance of your team, or to create a team that does not work well together. I will explore some of the solutions to these problems in future blog posts.

Dynamics 365 (formerly CRM) MVPs and their Blogs



Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP) are active in the information technology community and help spread knowledge on Microsoft products.  Many of them are prolific bloggers and are great sources for technical tips and review of the latest in Dynamics 365 (formerly CRM).

Here are some of the Dynamics MVPs and links to their blogs:
I know that I am missing some, and perhaps some of these MVPs have lapsed or are neglecting their blogs.  I have omitted MVPs who write in languages I cannot read, who have gone a year or more without posting to their blogs and those who do not have personal blogs.  Please share other active bloggers with me so I can add to the list.

Friday, March 3, 2017

6 Things to Look for in Grant Management Software

Source:USASpending.gov

My company InfoStrat has been working on government grant management since 1998, and we have seen and responded to a number of solicitations for grant management software.  This post summarizes what grantors are looking for in a software package, highlighting some recent trends that have emerged in this market.

Here are the top characteristics desired in a grant management software package:
  1. Compatibility with the enterprise architecture of the customer.  Most customers prefer to buy software that is compatible with what they already own in order to simplify support.  We see RFPs that specify the database, for instance, as Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle to be compatible with reporting tools already in use.
  2. Flexibility to meet grant program requirements and respond to changes in requirements. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all for grants.  A highway grant from the Department of Transportation is quite different from a neighborhood protection grant from a local police department.  Customers want the product to match their process rather than to change their business process to fit the product.  Specific grant programs and even federal guidelines for all grants are evolving.  Customers know that they may need to incorporate new data elements and create new reports to remain in compliance.  The most dramatic instance of this was in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), also know as the Stimulus, which created new metrics and reporting standards for grants.  In 2014, OMB announced uniform guidance which included accounting, audit, and administrative policies. 
  3. Ability to run on a government cloud.  This is a recent trend but has been picking up momentum.  Customers are asking for products which meet federal and other security certifications such as NIST and FedRAMP. 
  4. Integration with a grantee portal. Customers want to allow prospective grantees to research their grants online and submit their applications, view the status of applications, and submit post-award reports through a web portal.  They do not want to rely on custom coding of the portal but prefer web services to connect the portal with the grant system and allow content changes through configuration rather than custom HTML.
  5. Integration features and capabilities. Grant systems do not operate in a vacuum, so customers want the ability to link to an accounting system to issue payment requests and track payment status.  They also are seeking integration with other products such as Microsoft Office, email systems, and document management systems. 
  6. Vendor stability. The grant software marketplace has been fragmented, and some companies have written products for a specific type of grant.  Customers are concerned about the viability of small companies because of their narrow market and the chance of acquisition and discontinuation of the product as the industry consolidates. Government agencies do not tend to favor startups because they are less likely to be around for the full life of the product. This preference points toward software vendors that lead the industry and have demonstrated longevity. 
Perhaps what is even more surprising in reviewing RFPs is that many grantors are still relying on spreadsheets and email, or out-of-date tracking systems, to manage millions of dollars in funds.

For more information on grant management and Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, see my posts:

Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
6 Things to Look for in Grant Management Software
Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Implementation
Grants Manager Plus: Theme and Variations
Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Online Resources for Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Portal Options for Microsoft Grants Manager
Statewide Grant Management Systems
Usage Scenarios for Microsoft Grants Manager