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Showing posts from 2016

InfoStrat QuickStart for Dynamics 365

My company InfoStrat offers a Quick Start for Dynamics 365 service to help customers get up and running with Dynamics 365.  The service is completed in one week to help organizations understand the apps that make up Dynamics 365 and determine which ones make the most sense for them. As I have written in other blog posts, there are so many new apps and features in Dynamics 365 that they warrant a new look even if you are a long term user of Dynamics CRM Online, Dynamics AX, or Dynamics NAV which predated the Dynamics 365 launch.  Our customers have been excited to find new apps that meet some of their longstanding requirements that earlier would have required custom development.  In particular, the mobile clients for Dynamics Sales and Field Service provide a wealth of features that would be expensive and time-consuming to create from scratch. Dynamics 365 Project Service is so new that not many customers have seen it.  Clients who choose InfoStrat's most popular Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Webinar Questions

Yesterday I conducted a webinar on Microsoft Dynamics 365 , a family of Microsoft business products for sales, marketing, customer service, accounting, and more. For those who were unable to join the webinar or who don't want to listen to the full recording, here are the top questions and answers: Are these solutions all in the same place or are they separate solutions integrated seamlessly? -- Dynamics 365 is integrated with Office 365, so it is available in one place with the same login and administrative console .  What about an xRM solution that might use very little in terms of in-the-box Sales or Marketing functionality? How would this translate and be licensed? -- Microsoft offers Dynamics 365 PowerApps for this scenario, at a lower cost than Dynamics 365 Sales and other apps.  Does Power Apps still have accounts/contacts? -- Yes, it still has these shared entities but does not include those dedicated to functions such as Opportunities for Dynamics 365 Sales.   Do

Send SMS Messages to Your Dynamics Marketing Lists with ClickDimensions

Most of InfoStrat's clients use Dynamics CRM (Dynamics 365) and ClickDimensions to automate email distribution lists for online newsletters, event invitations, and more.  But did you know that you can also use this software to send SMS (text) messages? You can send messages to a group of recipients stored in a Marketing list, either using lead or contact records.  These messages can be triggered by an automated workflow or through a user action.  Just like emails, the messages may be personalized and can contain data from the CRM system. Some target groups of people prefer SMS messages rather than email.  It also can make sense for sending alerts to users, such as service outages or emergency information, which attract more user attention.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Team Members Subscriptions

Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365  With the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 this week, Microsoft has created a new option for less expensive software subscriptions called Team Members.  Microsoft previously offered restricted rights for Dynamics CRM users with their Basic and Fundamental subscriptions, but Dynamics 365 introduces several new twists. For a primer on the two editions of Dynamics 365, see "Understanding Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business and Dynamics 365 Enterprise Editions" http://blogs.infostrat.com/2016/10/understanding-microsoft-dynamics-365.html Team Member for Enterprise Edition The Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 offers Team Members light use of several apps for $4-10/user/month : Dynamics 365 for Operations Dynamics 365 for Sales Dynamics 365 for Customer Service Dynamics 365 for Field Service Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation and also Microsoft PowerApps with Flow The Team Members subscription

Understanding Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business and Dynamics 365 Enterprise Editions

Microsoft recently released additional information on the new Dynamics 365 Business and Enterprise editions.  Dynamics 365 was announced on October 11 and will be available on November 1, 2016.  The Dynamics 365 brand will be the umbrella for customer relationship management (CRM) products, CRM add-ins, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) products. I wrote recent posts on Microsoft's vision for Dynamics 365 ,  Dynamics 365 pricing and implications of Dynamics 365 for xRM scenarios. Today I'm expanding the discussion on editions of Dynamics 365. Enterprise Edition The Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 is optimized for organizations with over 250 employees. It includes Dynamics AX called Dynamics 365 for Operations as its ERP component. There is a minimum user count of 20 users for Enterprise edition plan 2 and Dynamics CRM for Operations (included in plan 2). The Enterprise edition subscriptions include dual use rights allowing use of the on-premises software

Dynamics 365 and xRM: What Comes Next?

Dynamics CRM and xRM Not long after Microsoft released Dynamics CRM, customers and Microsoft partners found ways to use the product beyond the traditional sales, marketing, and customer service functions which define customer relationship management.  Microsoft adopted the moniker "xRM" to describe these on-traditional uses of CRM in which "x" stands for other relationships such as citizens, employees, patients and much more. Some Microsoft partners even user xRM in their company names. Dynamics 365 moves in the direction of providing licensing options more appropriate for xRM. The premise of xRM is that it takes advantage of a comprehensive and mature platform which is useful for many business applications.  It comes with a rich data model, a granular security model, mobile apps, cloud hosting and wide support by Microsoft and thousands of Microsoft services partners.  Compared to custom development, xRM allows more rapid solution development. Third parties

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Pricing: 6 Reasons Not to Panic

Last week Microsoft announced its Dynamics 365 family of products and pricing which will take effect on November 1, 2016.  The announcement received significant press coverage  and I wrote a blog post on the vision behind this move.  The Wall Street Journal has written on how Microsoft is upping its game to compete with Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP for the enterprise software market. Microsoft has de-bundled Dynamics CRM Online into modules for sales, customer service, and marketing, added several new apps, and made some Dynamics ERP products available under the Dynamics 365. There is quite a bit to digest here, but Microsoft offered several reasons why current Dynamics CRM customers should not panic: Current Dynamics CRM customers can continue their subscriptions or change to the Dynamics 365 apps and bundles. If you are using all the modules in Dynamics CRM, the Dynamics 365 Enterprise Plan 1 will include all these and more: Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Proje

Dynamics 365 Shows Microsoft's Bold Vision

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Family of Apps   With the release of Dynamics 365, the New Microsoft, under the leadership of chief executive officer Satya Nadella, has revealed its bold vision to not only embrace but to lead new trends in business computing. Dynamics 365 is a collection of cloud apps and services for business, allowing customers to mix and match the features they need from a lengthy catalog including sales, marketing, customer service, field service, project management, accounting, and more. Dynamics 365 hits all of today's top computing trends.  It is cloud-based (although customers may deploy on premises, unlike some of Microsoft's competitors). Dynamics 365 takes advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence, weaving in elements of Cortana and other Microsoft AI work.  Dynamics Connected Field Service weaves in the Internet of Things (IoT) to feed sensor data from devices which triggers service calls and dispatches trucks with technicians if

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Contract Management

Many organizations, including government agencies, track contracts with vendors, grantees, health care providers and other parties, and need systems to keep track of the workflow associated with executing and maintaining the contracts. InfoStrat has helped commercial and government clients implement online contract management. For Microsoft shops, the first product to come to mind may be SharePoint.  SharePoint offers document management, check-in and check-out, version control as well as intranet and extranet capabilities.  All these are important for contract management, but they may not be sufficient on their own. Dynamics CRM can augment SharePoint by providing its workflow engine, dashboards and reporting that make it easier to manage a larger number of contracts along with organizational contacts, automated emails and merged documents.  The Business Process Flow capability in Dynamics CRM graphically shows were a contract is in the drafting and signature process.  Recor

InfoStrat QuickStart for Dynamics CRM Frequently Asked Questions

My company InfoStrat offers a QuickStart packaged service offering to help clients quickly get up and running with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online . We receive many questions on when the QuickStart is the best fit for your CRM project.  These are the frequently asked questions (FAQ). How long does the QuickStart take? The QuickStart is a one-week engagement to get you and your users up and running with Dynamics CRM.  We provide templates for requirements and details such as user roles before the QuickStart begins.  Why should I hire a Microsoft Gold Partner to help? If this is your first experience with Dynamics CRM, you can save time and avoid false starts.  Hiring an outside consultant can increase the priority of the effort and prevent the implementation from being stalled by competing priorities.   Which CRM module should I start with? We recommend you choose from sales, service or marketing based on your business priorities.   Who participates in the QuickStart? The most s

Victim Notification with SAVIN: South Dakota Goes Statewide

In July 2016, South Dakota rolled out a fully statewide SAVIN notification system using the solution from InfoStrat.   The SAVIN solution provides victims with timely and accurate notifications of changes to offender custody and case status. Built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM , it leverages the best of breed technology which is regularly upgraded by Microsoft. It provides a wide range of tools for administrators including ad hoc reporting and query development, workflow management, internal alerting, integration with Microsoft Office, role-based security, and many other standard features.  The SAVIN solution can be implemented on premise or in the Microsoft cloud. And it can be implemented as a stand-alone solution for a specific justice organization (Corrections Department, Jail, Court, Prosecutor, etc.) or as a complete statewide solution including data from multiple justice organizations. Highlights of the South Dakota implementation include:         Exclusive

How Many CRMs Do You Need?

Source: Microsoft.com Managing relationships with people is the heart of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, whether they are customers, vendors, business partners, constituents or other people. So in that sense, there is hardly any organization that doesn't do CRM even if they don't own CRM software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce.  The most common way to manage people is in your email such as Outlook contacts, or Excel spreadsheets with lists of people to whom you send mail or emails. What we often find that our clients inadvertently end up with more than on CRM, because the same information on people is tracked in multiple systems.  Universities, for instance, may have separate systems for applicants, students, alumni, donors, and parents even though over time these may be the same people. Similarly, organizations that recruit members or employees end up tracking the same people over a long period of time.  The more overlapping CRM systems yo

Workflow Automation with Microsoft Flow and Azure Logic Apps

Source: Microsoft In June 2016, Microsoft released the preview of its Flow workflow productivity app.  This app allows you to create transactions that span multiple software products in a similar way to competitors IFTTT and zapier .  For instance, I might want an incoming email to save attachments to SharePoint or Dropbox, or generate a notification by text for an email sent from a key contact. You can start with a Flow template and customize it to your business needs. Flow doesn't require programming and is simple to configure. Today Microsoft offers connections to 45 services including Office 365, Twitter, Dropbox, Salesforce, MailChimp, and Slack.  Microsoft is adding more services and improving the performance and reliability of Flow. What is even more exciting to me is that Microsoft offers an industrial strength workflow app for business customers.  Flow templates can be migrated to Azure Logic Apps   which allow developers to build complex and scalable workflo

CRM and Marketing for Government Contractors

In earlier blog posts I have discussed how government contracting is different from other sales processes, and how to adapt your CRM system for the government capture (sales) process. The traditional sales model which still prevails in government contracting is to target particular agencies and seek meetings with contracting officers and end customers.  There is no substitute for this sales activity on the ground, but government purchasers are slowly changing their behavior, and relying on online searches to find sources for products and services. This trend increases the importance of marketing activities by government contractors, including better websites, social marketing, and search engine optimization.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM, especially combined with ClickDimensions , can help government contractors increase their visibility rapidly. Here are some of the ways you can use CRM for marketing to government agencies: Create landing pages on your website and track the be

Onvia Releases Integration with Dynamics CRM for Government Contracts

Today Onvia, a leading provider of U.S. government contracting data, announced integration of its leading database on state and local contracting opportunities with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This means that Onvia subscribers can search for business opportunities and add them to Dynamics CRM without rekeying information on the government agency or the opportunity. Dynamics CRM is increasingly popular for government contractors, and Onvia is the first of the major data subscription services to provide this integration.   Watch this video to see the integration in action:  https://onvia.wistia.com/medias/y2ouf6638e   Onvia adds Dynamics CRM integration to their Salesforce integration capabilities. For more details, see the press release: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/onvia-reveals-new-integration-with-microsoft-dynamics-crm-300312209.html 

Don't Wait for a Natural Disaster to Move to the Cloud

Hurricane Arthur from NOAA.gov Natural disasters create opportunities for heroic rescues, and this is true for cloud computing as well. My company serves many government agencies across the country, and over the years several have experienced flooding and prolonged power interruptions at their data centers. One of the strongest business cases for cloud computing is to ensure continuity of operations, and natural disasters put this strategy to the test. I have had clients lose use of  their on premises computing facilities due to flooding and hurricanes, as well as being unable to reach their offices in blizzard conditions. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 may have triggered the greatest level of a cloud computing response by flooding sections of New York City.  Administrators who were prepared with cloud resources moved their computing from Manhattan to Northern Virginia or even across the country to Oregon. Services such as ylastic automate the process of moving cloud services f

10 Questions for Firsthand Marketing Research

You can hire marketing researchers to study your market, and read studies that others have made in your industry to understand which marketing techniques are most effective. You should also consider yourself as a sample of one and pay attention to your behavior as a way of injecting some common sense into your marketing plan. Ask yourself questions like these: Do you pick up the phone when a telemarketer calls at your home?  At your office? When you find out who is trying to sell to you, do you think more or less highly of that brand? What do you think about companies that show up high on organic web searches?  Is it different that they way you consider those that purchase ads from search engines?  What about those that have ads and also score high in organic search results? How many pages of search results are you willing to read before giving up?  How many products or companies do you need to find before you consider you have researched the competition? Three options, ten

Understanding Microsoft AppSource and Dynamics 365

On July 6, 2016, Microsoft announced the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource . Scheduled to be available in the fall of 2016, Microsoft Dynamics 365 will allow new ways for customers to consume Microsoft's current CRM and ERP cloud offerings based on business functions such as financials, field service, sales, operations, marketing, project management and customer service. Microsoft AppSource will be an online store for cloud services from Microsoft and third party providers such as InfoStrat and other Microsoft partners.  Microsoft expects to offer more than 200 business SaaS apps, add-ins and content packs when AppSource launches. The announcement garnered quite a bit of response in the press, including the Wall Street Journal  and Forbes .  Although all the details of Dynamics 365 have not been announced, the essence is bundling and un-bundling of products and features from Microsoft's extensive Dynamics catalog.  Microsoft is

Statewide Grant Management Systems

State governments are slowly moving toward standardization of their grants management systems. Grant management software has been a small niche for many years, and government agencies tend to allow each grant program to choose its own software package, leading to duplication of cost and effort as well as making consolidated reporting difficult. The rise of cloud computing is leading to consolidation and standardization of those grant management systems.  Major cloud providers have entered the market, and have invested in government cloud facilities which comply with rigorous U.S. Government security requirements and governance standards such as FedRAMP and FISMA. Microsoft is one of the key players in grant management with its Grants Manager Plus solution running on Dynamics CRM Government as well as its Azure Government platform. Choosing large vendors is a way for government to reduce the risk that a supplier will go out of business or its product will be retired after an acqu

Microsoft's New Dynamics CRM Product: Project Service

Microsoft has intensified the pace of innovation in Dynamics CRM, adding a broad set of new capabilities in recent versions of Dynamics CRM Online.  Most of these have been from companies that Microsoft acquired, such as Customer Service (Parature), Field Service (FieldOne), gamification (FantasySales Team), and Marketing (MarketingPilot). Project Service, the latest addition, was developed in-house by Microsoft.  It offers an end-to-end solution that helps sales and delivery teams track project delivery activities. Project service helps you: Estimate, quote, and contract work Track time and expenses Plan and assign resources Enable team collaboration Capture time, expense, and progress data for real-time insights and accurate invoicing Project-based contracts Project contracts relate quotes and orders to project plans, financial estimates, labor pricing, and billing arrangements, like time and materials or fixed price. The contract highlights key metrics, including pro

GovCon: Tracking Government Subcontracting Opportunities in Dynamics CRM

Whether your company is a large or small government contractor, teaming arrangements are more important than ever. To be successful in a government bid, you must not only offer the products or services that are sought by an agency, but you must also gain access to the appropriate contract vehicle. Agencies seek to streamline procurement by pre-competing contracts to limit the number of proposals they will receive for a given solicitation.  They also have targets for set-aside contracts for special groups such as minority-, veteran-, and woman-owned companies.  Agencies may choose one or more large system integrators to simplify shopping for tasks later and use them as the clearinghouse for project labor. The disconnect between contract vehicles and capabilities means that contract holders need to find companies whose skills match the needs of the agency, and companies offering products and services need to form alliances with companies that hold the contract vehicles. With just

6 Reasons Microsoft's LinkedIn Acquisition is Different

For anyone left who thinks that Microsoft is the same company it was in the heyday of Windows, today's acquisition of LinkedIn shows just how far Microsoft is willing to go in pursuit of its long term vision. How is this acquisition different from earlier acquisitions? Microsoft is acquiring the leader .  Similar to the Skype acquisition, Microsoft is gaining market share from a top player and not an also-ran.  Microsoft's timing for cloud and social is right . Microsoft comes into this acquisition with strong momentum of Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online cloud growth. LinkedIn targets business rather than consumer users . The business market is more conservative and less likely to flit from one social network to another.   Paid and free services go well together . Microsoft offers a strong sales channel and field sales presence that create new opportunities to monetize LinkedIn.  Free users create a steady stream of prospects for the combined product and service o

Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Implementation

Microsoft Grants Manager Plus is a solution for tracking the full life cycle of a grant, from funding sources to publishing grant opportunities, accepting online applications, review, scoring, award, post-award reporting and closeout. The solution and its precursor Stimulus360 so far has been used to track over $200 billion in government grants. InfoStrat has been building grants management systems for government agencies since 1999 and we have been exposed to a wide array of grant systems  which affect the cost drivers of automated grants management systems.   We will discuss some of the factors that must be considered to help you come up with a cost estimate for your requirements. The Type and Number of Grant Programs Grants are typically either Competitive Grants or Formula Grants.  As the name implies, Formula grants award funds to the applicant based on a preset formula.   For example, we worked with a federal agency that distributed funds to states for libraries and the mon