Skip to main content

Saving Money with Microsoft Dynamics CRM -- the xRM Approach Part 1

We are putting the final touches on a white paper about using Dynamics CRM  to develop line of business solutions (Microsoft calls this xRM), so here is a preview of the highlights.

Budgets are tight for government at all levels, and agencies are forced to do more with less.    This is nearly always true but has become more acute since the 2008 economic slowdown and more recently with failure to pass federal budgets and resolve the federal debt.  

Information Technology (IT) is part of the problem, because government processes are so specialized that commercial software geared to other industries such as manufacturing or retail simply won't cut it for government.    The most common approach for these solutions has been custom software development -- the IT equivalent of tailor-made suits.  

My company InfoStrat has been in the custom development business for 26 years, but about five years ago we found a new alternative that makes sense for many government solutions.   Instead of custom development, we use Microsoft CRM as the baseline for a solution and then use a combination of off-the-shelf features, configuration, customization and integration to make the solution meet government functional requirements.  

One of the biggest drivers of costs in building any complex business application is the requirements analysis phase. This phase documents the business requirements including the data fields to be captured, the presentation of these data elements in forms, the associated workflows, and the reports for the proposed system.

Requirements analysis involves numerous meetings and iterations between the IT staff and the business users as they attempt to document every detail of features needed in the system to meet their information management needs. The task can be daunting because there are many decisions to be made and tradeoffs to consider. It is a major challenge for the end user of the system to envision every minute detail about every possible usage scenario of the new system A custom development approach essentially begins with a blank sheet of paper as the paradigm, and requires features to be defined from the ground up.

The xRM approach starts with pre-built off-the-shelf component parts and tools, so the requirements analysis phase becomes more of a “gap analysis” type of approach where only the missing functionality needs to be identified and described in detail.

The initial step in an xRM project is called the “Fit-Gap” phase which involves reviewing all of the functionality that comes “out of the box” and determining if it fits the business requirements already and, if not, identifying where the gap is, and describing the nature of the work (configuration or customization) that is required.  It is also much easier for customers to envision how the new system will look because they will be looking at Dynamics CRM “out of the box” as the baseline for the purpose of discussing needs and requirements for the new system.

Next -- saving on configuration instead of programming

Popular posts from this blog

The DATA Act Driving Grant Management Automation

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act enacted in May 2014 calls for making spending data available in open, standardized formats to be published online.  It is a continuation of transparency initiatives and lessons learned with experiences such as grants.gov, the 2009 economic stimulus under the Recovery Act and the spending site USASpending.gov.

Government grantees will have significant new administrative responsibilities.  Many organizations that were tracking grants in spreadsheets or documents will have to adopt more sophisticated automated grant management systems such as Microsoft Grants Manager to keep up with reporting rules.

For profit companies will lose some privacy as a result of this law.  Grant recipients will be required to disclose information including officer salaries.

Continued improvements to publishing grant opportunities such as grants.gov may make it easier to find grants. These reforms together are designed to improve the effectiveness of grant prog…

Dynamics 365 for Government Contractors (GovCon) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

One of InfoStrat's most popular solutions is Dynamics 365 for Government Contractors (GovCon).



Here are some answers to frequently asked question on this solution:
Can I add new fields to the solution?  -- Yes, the solution is fully customizable and you can add your own new fields to any form, view or report.Does Dynamics 365 for GovCon work on mobile devices?  -- Yes, Microsoft offers mobile apps for all the most popular platforms including iPhone, iPad, and Android phone and tablets.Does Dynamics 365 connect with bid data systems such as Deltek and Onvia?  -- Some information services, such as Onvia, offer integration with Dynamics 365.  Others require third party solutions such as the InfoStrat integration with Deltek GovWin IQ.What do customers typically customize for their unique requirements? -- Not all contractors follow the same steps in the capture process.  Most clients will tailor the business process to add or remove steps in order to match their sales methodology.  Of…

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Community Business Development

Local governments agencies such as the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development in my hometown of Washington, DC, - work on behalf of residents to improve living conditions, create economic opportunities and jobs by attracting businesses and helping businesses thrive. A customer relationship management system is key to work in community business development.  If you are a Microsoft customer, which apps in Dynamics 365 should you use for business development?
Core functions - All the Dynamics 365 modules track accounts (companies) and contacts (individuals) as well as activities such as phone calls, emails, letters, and meetings. Sales - Dynamics 365 for Sales provides the ability to track opportunities to attract startup businesses or businesses that are relocating from another area. Sales includes functions for qualify opportunities and working through all the steps in your workflow through a successful win.  You can ascribe dollars to opportunities as well as…