There are over 1,000 different CRM systems available today. Way too many to cover here. Here are some tips for narrowing down the selection to a reasonable number. Let’s start out by looking at the Big 4. The biggest players in CRM are Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and Oracle. SAP and Oracle are dominant in the largest enterprise settings. If you are a small to mid-sized business, you’re probably better off looking at Microsoft or Salesforce. CRM Magazine and Gartner Research routinely place these 2 solutions as leaders for small and mid-sized organizations. There are lots of partners that can help you deploy these, plus lots of add-on solutions that can round out functionality that these 2 may lack, e.g., robust marketing automation, integration with disparate systems/databases, electronic signature, etc.
If you use Office 365, the level native integration with Dynamics 365 (Power BI, Outlook, Excel, SharePoint, etc.) is superior in many ways and contributes to the overall productivity of your users. Also, Microsoft Dynamics 365’s total cost of ownership is much lower. Salesforce tends be the first in terms of new functionality and has more add-on solutions. Salesforce is a cloud-only platform while Dynamics 365 operates in the cloud, on-premise, or in a hybrid environment.
Selecting a new CRM system can be a little intimidating. Between evaluating complex technology and dealing with the internal pressure to “get it right”, the experience can be confusing and stressful.There are 5 factors we recommend you look at in helping make your selection.
Budget: Establish your current-year and long-term budget. Knowing your budget upfront helps manage expectations and provide partners or vendors with the proper framework within which to make the appropriate recommendation.
Breadth of Selection: Don’t feel compelled to evaluate every system available. Restrict your search to 2 or 3 vendors. There are plenty of resources to help you narrow down the list of potential solutions, according to your budget and purpose. For instance, there are review sites and other forums that facilitate the free exchange of information regarding competing systems.
Articulating Your Current and Future Requirements: Ask yourself what you need today, and how you see your operation evolving. CRM is a great tool for supporting customer-facing and internal processes. Create a document (bullet points, paragraphs, visio, flow-chart, whatever) that outlines your process and share that with the group that designs and implements your system. This will be of great value in helping them estimate the level of effort it’s going to take, bringing your vision to reality.
Migrating Data: If you’re bringing data over from existing systems or databases, take the time to evaluate what data you REALLY need to bring to the new system. Customer account and contact records are generally no-brainers. However, if records are obsolete or have not been maintained properly, you may consider starting fresh. This approach can also save you time and money during the implementation of the new system.
Training and Support: Adequate training helps maximize the investment in your new system, and improves the degree of adoption, productivity and satisfaction. Be sure to evaluate options for future support. A good vendor will provide the as-needed and long term support options that make this investment a long-term success.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a “family” of solutions comprised of (8 at this writing) individual applications supporting specific processes or “workloads” that can be licensed together or separately. The applications are:
Monthly user subscription licenses for individual applications range from $40/user/month to $190/user/month. Bundled “Plans” start at $115/user/month and go up to $210/user/month. Too many pricing permutations to list here. Additionally, there are promotional prices for small and mid-size organizations that are a tremendous value. Contact us for more pricing information.
In addition to having the flexibility to mix and match the applications you want, you have the option of 2 license types:
Full user (full read/write access)
Team Member (full read/restricted write)
Full users are your everyday users that are regularly entering data and creating new records. Team Members are primarily consuming the data that full users have entered, but have the right to enter some basic data, e.g., activities, notes, time and expense.
Mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices are available for free download. The mobile apps work in both online and offline mode.
If you’re searching online, look for the Microsoft “badge” on the partner website or branding. For example, partners that routinely invest in training and education for their employees, maintain a requisite number of client accounts, and maintain adequate staffing levels commensurate with a high level of service receive a Silver or Gold badge.
Success stories and the number of years devoted to their craft. It takes years to develop the technical expertise and practical knowledge need to be a solid partner. Find out how long the partner has been in business, specifically as it applies to the solution you are evaluating. Check the partner’s website for customer citations or case studies. After some reasonable level of engagement with the partner, ask for customer references.
Geography may be important to you or not. Most Dynamics 365 services can be provided remotely allowing users the flexibility to work with partners anywhere on the map. If you’re more comfortable with a local partner that appear on site for consultations or to perform services, ask prospective partners about their main and branch offices, as well as personnel that work remotely.
Industry experience. Ask prospective partners about their experience in your industry. A good partners will freely admit where their strengths lie and share information about their familiarity with your vertical. You may find that the partner has a vertically focussed solution that is designed to meet the challenges common to users in your industry.
Software and services. In addition to providing Dynamics 365 related service, find out if partner is a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Providers (CSP). CSP partners can sell you your software licenses separately or bundled with services.
Additional partnerships and referral networks. Being a Microsoft partner probably isn’t enough. Check to see if the partner partners with any other solution providers that have add-on solutions, e.g., electronic signature, marketing automation, or integration tools that are needed to build a comprehensive business solution for your business. You can’t be the best at everything. A good partner will have a network of providers that can be brought in to help deliver the solution that’s right for you.
Dyn365Pros implementation is comprised of 5 distinct phases: Discovery, Planning and Design, Installation/Configuration, Deployment, and Go-Live Support. Each phase has its own set of tasks, deliverables and schedule.
Discovery: Consists of reviewing all notes and documentation gathered in the pre-contract phase of the engagement. Meetings and whiteboarding sessions with key customer staff provide the deep understanding we need to understand the broad business objectives as well as details of customer business process. This phase is of fundamental importance as it serves as a guide for the remainder of the project.
Planning and Design: In this phase we will take what we learned in Discovery and provide the design to accomplish the agreed upon objectives. We create the “blueprint” that reflects how the system will support and facilitate your specific business processes. Existing data is analyzed for relevance and reformatting to accommodate the new data structure. Comprehensive timelines and system design documents are often deliverables at the end of this phase.
Installation/Configuration: Software installation and/or configuration based on design specifications. This may involve editing standard workflows and forms, customization or creation of new Dynamics 365 entities, creating custom user views and dashboards, creating reports, integration with ERP or marketing systems, replicating or replacing solutions that are out of date, installation of server software or provisioning of cloud-based solutions.
Deployment: This phase includes user testing, final data load or review, porting over any final changes from the test system into the production system, and conducting user training.
Go-Live Support: After deployment we anticipate there is going to be a need for refreshers, user support, and tweaking things if needed. After that, we close out the official project and discuss what sort of on-going support plan is appropriate.
This is a great question and the answer will reflect a Microsoft Dynamics partner’s philosophical approach.
This could easily be an essay, but I’ll keep it tight and bit high level. Dynamics 365 is comprised of 9 different purpose-built applications. You only need license the applications that you need to meet your organizational objectives. Microsoft incentivizes customers that use more than one application with bundle and volume pricing that results in a solution that is very competitive from both a feature and price standpoint.
Dynamics 365 applications are divided into 2 broad categories: Customer Engagement and Unified Operations.
Think of the Customer Engagement as related to sales, marketing and service delivery. Individual app prices are indicated below:
You can bundle all the apps above for $115/user/month. That’s only $20 more than you pay for them individually. Additionally, after you exceed 99 licenses the per user license cost drops to $90/user/month. It drops again at 250 users. Contact us if you need pricing on 250 users and above.
Think of Unified Operations as Finance and Operations related apps. You may have heard these type of apps referred to as ERP. Individual apps are priced as indicated below:
If you license Finance and Operations, Talent and Retail are bundled in as well.
PowerApps, a platform for citizen-developers (I read this to mean power users and admins) to create custom applications utilizing your Dynamics 365 data, without the need for costly outside developers. PowerApps is $40/user/month licensed individually.
If you want everything under the Dynamics 365 sun including the Customer Engagement Apps, Finance and Operations Apps, as well as PowerApps, the license is $210/user/month.
Wait, there’s more. For members of your organization that need access to the Dynamics 365 data that’s machine and users generated, Microsoft created a Team Member license. Team Member license is not quite a read-only license, but it’s close. Team Members can create and manage some select types of records, and enter data only on others. The permutations are too voluminous for an FAQ, so contact us if you need more information.
The benefits of moving your Dynamics 365 instance to the cloud are myriad. For instance, you won’t have to deal with servers or server software anymore. You won’t have to deal with upgrades anymore either, Microsoft performs them for you. Microsoft’s cloud platform is reliable and predictable – we love it. Plus you get a money-back 99.9% uptime SLA included for no additional charge. Users have access to Dynamics 365 from anywhere there is internet access. The Dynamics 365 mobile apps work online or off, so workers are productive wherever they go.
Without getting too technical, these are some of the steps we take helping a customer migrate from an on-premise install to the cloud.
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