Should I Stay or Should I Go? (with apologies to The Clash)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 is out and everyone is raving about it. Sales and Service management, as well as mobile CRM have never been easier or more affordable. Native integration with Outlook, Excel, SharePoint – Wow! Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. That includes users on legacy versions of Dynamics CRM as well.

Should I stay or should I go? Those of you on a legacy version of Dynamics CRM should take a serious look at how Dynamics CRM 2015 can promote sales best practice, give your mobile sales force a truly touch-friendly interface, and let your users sync emails to CRM from any device or email client.

If you haven’t seen the new interface it’s not hard to get a good look at the new system. In fact, it’s a piece of cake. There are lots of videos of Dynamics CRM 2015 on YouTube. Contact a Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner and ask for a live demonstration or sit in on a webinar. If you have the time and inclination sign up for a 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The trial environment has some quick tips on new features, a brief intro on how to get started, and just enough sample data to give you a taste of how the current version can be a game changer for your organization.

You will likely need some help configuring your new Dynamics CRM environment and moving over or replicating your existing forms. A good Dynamics CRM Partner will provide all the help in planning and executing on your migration plan. No two organizations use CRM exactly alike, so make sure you articulate how you want the CRM to support your customer facing and internal processes. You’ll need to decide how much legacy data you want to bring over. Basic CRM information like Account and Contact records are usually a no brainer. But if some of your data is obsolete or hasn’t been maintained, you may be better off migrating just what you need to allow you team to hit the deck running. Same thing with workflows and customization.

One of the big decisions will be whether to stay on-premise or move to the cloud. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but I highly encourage organizations to look at the value of Dynamics CRM Online. Setting up the new instance in the cloud decreases start-up costs significantly and provides a secure, stable environment to build out a CRM that supports all your unique business processes. Provisioning an online instance does not take much time at all, so you can get your implementation rolling faster and easier. If you plan to or decide to move back on-premise in the future – no problem. Microsoft will provide all the system data, and configuration settings can be moved with little trouble.

So what’s to stand in the way of moving to Dynamics CRM 2015? Good old fashioned inertia, fear of change, and concerns about abandoning old customizations are 3 of the hurdles I see when organizations are reluctant to move to the new platform. Customizations can pose a political challenge internally as it can be awkward telling upper management the money invested in custom development and integration is now holding the firm back. We’ve found that a lot of the customization clients built in old versions like 3.0 or 4.0 are no longer necessary, as something similar and easier to support is built into Dynamics CRM 2015. When you add in the value of Dynamics CRM Social Engagement, Microsoft Insights and so on, the argument behind the “business process” basis for the move is easier to make.

But as they say — the devil is in the details. Dynamics CRM 2015 is very different from Dynamics CRM 3.0 or 4.0. You will need expert help in migrating data, reconfiguring new forms, and replicating any customs that have to be built. Scribe Software is an excellent tool for migrating data but requires skill and experience to pull it off correctly. This is where the help of Certified Dynamics CRM specialists will benefit you greatly. Even if you plan on performing some of the upgrade yourself, having the ability to call on experts for advice and help you need can make the process less stressful. Additionally, you’ll need someone to train your Users on how to take advantage of all the new functionality that will enjoy with Dynamics CRM 2015.

Stay or go? I say GO, GO, GO!

By Mark Abes/Vice President Sales & Marketing of xRM3, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM consulting, implementation, integration, and administrative services. Based in San Diego County Southern California.