Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Microsoft Dynamics for Human Capital Management



Microsoft continues to release new Dynamics software offerings at a rapid pace.  This post is to introduce Microsoft solutions for human capital management. Future posts will provide more product comparisons. 

The flagship Microsoft Dynamics product is Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (Enterprise Edition): https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/unified-operations/fin-and-ops/  It is a full fledged enterprise resource planning solution which competes with SAP and Oracle.  It includes financials as well as HR benefits, employee development and training, recruiting and payroll.  This product was derived from Dynamics AX, a mature product with a wide global user base.  

Microsoft has recently created a related product called Dynamics 365 for Talent  https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/unified-operations/talent/index

The functions offered by Dynamics 365 for Talent overlap with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operatinos (Enterprise Edition) but it does not contain some of the accounting (and non-HCM) modules such as inventory or accounts receivable. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent streamlines many routine recordkeeping tasks and automates a number of staffing processes such as recruiting, interviewing, employee retention, benefits administration, training, performance reviews, and change management. 

You can use Talent to complete tasks such as:

  • Administer organizational structures (the org chart).
  • Maintain comprehensive worker information from hire to retire.
  • Define and administer benefits, enroll workers, assign dependent coverage, and designate beneficiaries.
  • Establish and monitor absence policies.
  • Implement and track profile-based time management and generate pay information to export to a payroll system.
  • Manage worker competencies.
  • Review performance and implement worker goals.
  • Set up, deliver, and analyze training courses that include agendas, sessions, and tracks.
One of Microsoft's unique advantages is integration with LinkedIn (a Microsoft company).  LinkedIn is the premiere social network for hiring and recruiting, so this feature is likely to improve over time as Microsoft consolidates and enriches its new offerings. 



Microsoft has also introduced a workforce tool for Microsoft Dynamics 365 called StaffHub https://staffhub.office.com/  StaffHub functions are quite different from those offered in Dynamics.


As with other Dynamics products, you can sign up for a trial account on Dynamics 365 for Talent to evaluate how it can help your organization. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Flexible Grant Management Software: Long Term Considerations

My company InfoStrat has developed grant management systems for federal, state, and local governments as well as non-profits for nearly twenty years.  I have noticed a new emphasis on the requirement for flexibility in creating a system which can be easily modified to handle new grant programs and changes in business rules.

Here are my top dos and don'ts from our experience and that of our customers:

  1. Whether you are a grantor or a grantee, don't develop a new system for every program.  When a new program is created, it may seem simpler to start from scratch and spin up a new system in order to avoid changes to your existing system.  This approach is an easy trap to fall into, but later you will end up with multiple systems which separately need to be maintained, upgraded, and enhanced.  Creating reports that combine data from multiple systems is needlessly difficult compared to using a centralized, integrated approach from the beginning.
  2. Consider your enterprise architecture. 
  3. Do include the entire grants management lifecycle in your system. A typical grant has phases such as pre-award, award, post-award, closeout, and post-closeout. Even if you start by emphasizing only some of these phases, try to make your system encompass them all.  Over time you can add enhancements to flesh out the phases through which your grant progresses.
  4. Keep up with security and software versions.  In order to maintain a secure system, you must keep pace with releases and patches issued by your software vendor.  To allow yourself to slip one or two versions behind is an invitation to a lapse in security compliance.
  5. Consider cloud deployment. Most customers embarking on a new grant management system project will choose cloud deployment, but even those whose systems are deployed on premises today can consider hybrid cloud solutions for failover and disaster recovery. Going with a cloud vendor is one of the most painless approaches to maintaining security compliance, especially to keep pace with U.S. government standards such as FISMA and FedRAMP.
  6. Add analytics to your solution. Most grant management systems offer standard reports and reporting tools. Consider analytics products that can go deeper than most reports and identify patterns, offer visualization, and integrate with geographical data when appropriate. 
  7. Catch fraud and errors early. As you develop or maintain your grant management system, tighten audits and controls that will help you spot erroneous payment requests and flag grant ineligibility as early as possible.  Our customers have saved many times the cost of their grant management software by stopping fraud and errors. 
You can learn from the mistakes of others by reviewing solicitations for grant management systems.  The regrets that I see most often are picking a product which is difficult to maintain or customize, and choosing a solution from an obscure vendor that is acquired or goes out of business. These are some of the reasons that our customers have chosen Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, developed by InfoStrat.  It is based on the widely supported Microsoft Dynamics 365 product family, and benefits from millions of dollars of annual research and development by Microsoft.

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365



Social selling is a fast growing category for sales force automation.  Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, the leading professional social network in the United States, it has been adding features and improving the user experience in order to support social selling for business-to-business companies. 
For most companies, the central repository for sales information is the customer relationship management (CRM) system.  Microsoft is one of the leaders in CRM with its Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) product, so integration with LinkedIn is a natural extension of CRM and a solid platform for anyone interested in social selling.

The primary social selling tool in LinkedIn is Sales Navigator. Dynamics 365 integration with LinkedIn Sales Navigator offers many features:
  • Log Sales Navigator activity directly into CRM
  • Automatically import accounts, contacts, and lead records that your team is actively working from CRM into Sales Navigator
  • Automatically log InMails, Messages, and Notes directly to CRM
  • Automatically import CRM Contact and Account records from Open Opportunities into Sales Navigator to get regular sales updates
  • View records directly in CRM with one click from Sales Navigator
You can use Sales Navigator on your desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

Mobile View of LinkedIn Sales Navigator

PointDrive offers a tool for publishing content and tracking your engagement with LinkedIn users.  It offers:
  • Consistent Branding 
  • Create Engaging Content (ppt, pdf & url)
  • Share Content (Inmail & email)
  • Control Narrative
  • Viewable Via PC, Tablet & Mobile
  • Track Engagement
The Lead Builder tool provides:
  • Advanced Search Filters
  • Save Leads (20) to Start
  • Accounts Page
  • Lead Recommendations 
LinkedIn offers three plans depending on the sales of your organization and sales team: Professional, Team and Enterprise. 

Taken together, LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 offer a set of tools to help you master social selling in today's rapidly changing sales and marketing environment.