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 of native integration with Dynamics 365 (Power BI, Outlook, Teams, OneNote, 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 to 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.
The 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 Customer Engagement is an integrated suite of business applications. Each application supports specific processes or “workloads”. Organizations license Customer Engagement apps separately or together to create an integrated solution. Apps include:
- Sales Enterprise (full user)
- Sales Professional (limited user)
- Customer Service Enterprise (full user)
- Customer Service Professional (limited user)
- Field Service (full user)
- Project Service (full user)
- Team Member (light user)
- PowerApps (custom apps)
- Portal (add-on)
- Marketing (add-on)
- Sales Insights (user)
- Customer Service Insights (user)
- Customer Insights (add-on)
Monthly user subscription licenses for individual apps*:
- Enterprise (base): $95
- Additional Enterprise (attach to base): $20 ea.
- Sales Professional: $65
- Customer Service Professional: $50
- Team Member: $8
- PowerApps: $10 – $40
- Sales Insights: $50
- Customer Service Insights add-on: $75
Monthly subscriptions for tenant add-ons:
- Marketing: $750 and up
- Customer Insights: $1,500
Mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows devices are available for free download.
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 keep 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 needed to be a reliable 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 local partners 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 partner will freely admit their strengths and share information about their familiarity with your vertical. You may find that the partner has a vertically focused solution 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 the 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 offer ERP or add-on solutions, e.g., electronic signature, marketing automation, or integration tools that are needed to build a comprehensive business solution for your business. No single firm is the best at everything. A good partner will have a network of complementary 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 the 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.
First of all, we advise clients to take advantage of as much of the out of the box Dynamics 365 functionality as possible. When you “unbox” Dynamics 365, you have a pretty solid B2B platform for managing your business. There are tools for managing leads, opportunities, marketing campaigns, quotes and orders, field service calls, projects, integration with Outlook, and much more.
Naturally, the standard forms and setting are not going to work for everyone. That’s to be expected. There are tools within the system we can use to configure workflows, edit forms, add and relabel fields, build templates and knowledge base, build personal dashboards and views, etc. Again, this is all within the context and confines of standard system functionality.
Re-configuring standard functionality may not be the answer all time. At this point we weigh our options:
Buy: When feasible, our preferred option. We partner with several reliable independent software vendors with solid add-on solutions and integration tools for Dynamics 365. In addition to being Microsoft partners, we partner with ClickDimensions (marketing automation), eOne Solutions and TIBCO/Scribe (integration with other Dynamics solutions or disparate systems), mscrm-addons (document generation), Resco (mobile apps), and Inogic (mapping and routing software). Because these firms and products are tried and true and reasonably priced, we feel good about recommending them to our clients.
Build: Looking for a complete customized solution? We can do that as well. We have team members that specialize in creating custom code to deliver solutions that can’t be addressed within the system. Custom code is routinely tested in a non-production environment to make certain it functions properly.
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 can work online or off, so workers are productive wherever they go.
Without getting too technical, these are some of the steps we take to help a customer migrate from an on-premise install to the cloud.
- Examine the on-premise with the help of the customer. See how you’ve been using the system, amount and state of the data, are there old solutions or customizations that need to be replicated or replaced, ask ourselves if current standard functionality renders these add on solutions or customization obsolete.
- Take the opportunity to reimagine and reinvent business processes that have become stale or out of date.
- Make a recommendation on whether to step through the various versions up to the current version (generally time-consuming and expensive) or build out a new environment to serve the way you operate now and then migrate the existing data (like you would from any other CRM system) that is still useful or needed for compliance purposes.
- Take a hard look at your data and decided how much of it is really worth keeping. Talk to your partner about the amount of work relevant to bringing it over. Some record types like accounts and contacts are generally simple. Activities, notes, and attachments can get trickier and necessitate an integration tool or 3rd party app to move files to a new storage solution like SharePoint.
HIPAA regulations require that covered entities and their business associates—in this case, Microsoft when it provides services, including cloud services, to covered entities—enter into contracts to ensure that those business associates will adequately protect PHI. These contracts, or BAAs, clarify and limit how the business associate can handle PHI, and set forth each party’s adherence to the security and privacy provisions set forth in HIPAA and the HITECH Act. Once a BAA is in place, Microsoft customers—covered entities—can use its services to process and store PHI.
Currently, there is no official certification for HIPAA or HITECH Act compliance. However, those Microsoft services covered under the BAA have undergone audits conducted by accredited independent auditors for the Microsoft ISO/IEC 27001 certification.
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Yes. We help you with everything related to your Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution — software evaluation, purchasing, provisioning, billing, deployment, ongoing service, changes in licensing, etc. We offer Microsoft solutions at the heart of sales and productivity: Dynamics 365, Office 365, Power BI, Skype for Business, and SharePoint.
We also offer solutions from other partner organizations to complete your solutions. Software for marketing automation, systems integration, data migration, feature enhancement, and more.
If you’re interested in taking a closer look at Dynamics 365, we can perform a high-level demonstration, or you can sign up for a self-guided 30-day trial.
Demonstration: If you’d like us to provide a high-level demonstration, email sales@Dyn365Pros.com and tell us a little about what workloads you are interested in seeing, i.e., Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Field Service, or ERP. A high-level demo takes about 60 minutes depending on how much you want to see and how many questions you have.
Trial: To provision and manage the trial experience yourself, go to Microsoft and fill out the request form. The trial system will contain the following (plus other stuff):
- Dynamics 365 for Sales/Marketing
- Dynamics 365 for Customer Service
- Dynamics 365 for Field Service
Full disclosure, we have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with the idea of a 30-trial. We find one of two things are likely to happen during the trial. The customer never finds the time necessary to use the trial system. Or for lack of guidance or training, they go away feeling like Dynamics 365 is difficult to use. Neither result is ideal.