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crm 2011

First hand witnessing the changing nature of work through CRM

First hand witnessing the changing nature of work through CRM

It starts with a simple task:  Codify a business process

Most companies realize they have a business process that is probably not as efficient as it could be.  Perhaps it is an Excel spreadsheet or an MS-Word document that is being passed around the organization in an inefficient manner.  There is often the realization that if they take the disconnected spreadsheets and forms and back-ended them into a database, they can easily eliminate wasted time, rekeying of data, and eliminating some simple review processes and calculations.

You end up codifying the entire department

What starts out as a task to eliminate inefficiencies in one business process inevitably sprawls into another department.  The touch-point of information with other departments or with customers and suppliers will definitely be inputs or outputs into the business process that you are making more efficient.  Why not modify those processes too while you are at it?  Before you know it, you have modified the business processes of an entire department.

Job roles will change

Changing business processes will also inevitably lead to changing job duties.  The mundane error checking of paper forms or re-keying of information into various spreadsheets or miscellaneous forms is going away.  What is left behind in a business process is the essence of what the job truly is and what only the human can accomplish.  The human element in business processes is not going away with the current changing nature of business processes through electronic efficiencies but is now focusing employees on the higher value evaluations that are needed in business processes.

We are removing the mundane work with technology and opening up our eyes to the true value employees (i.e., humans) play in a business process.

purelycrm.com

What A Party!

What A Party!

Great Turnout

It was amazing to see so many of our customers come out to the Purely CRM 2015 Holiday party this year.  We were honoured with the opportunity to see so many of our clients in a casual setting like we had.  We would like to thank each and every one of you who had the opportunity to come out and mingle with us.  Next year we will have to pick an even larger venue!

A Fabulous Year

We can not believe that another year has already past!  The time just flies when you spend the time doing what you love and have great, great customers.  We have been growing so fast that we have actually had to move offices twice this year because we have simply outgrown our old spaces.  Not only has our customer base grown, but our staff have grown enormously as well.  We all look forward to finishing up the year with a full head of steam and continuing to service our customers with what we love to do most: consult on customer relationship management software.

We Wish You All Happy Holidays!

The Purely CRM Team

Purely CRM's New Fabulous Office In Yaletown

Purely CRM's New Fabulous Office In Yaletown

We've moved

With an open floor plan concept and multiple breakout spaces, Purely CRM's new office is a fabulous place to work.  In addition to the functional aspects of the work space, the aesthetics of the exposed brick, the old growth lumber, and the spiral staircase in the entrance way add a level of interest to the space.

Twelve specialized CRM experts.  One office.

The Vancouver office is home to twelve specialized Dynamics CRM consultants.  These consultants are currently working on various Dynamics CRM projects in BC, Alberta, and North Carolina.  Each one focused specifically on customer relationship management projects with a focus on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Address has changed, but phone number is the same

+1 (778) 668-3969
Suite 200 - 1290 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC  V6B 2Y5
CANADA

Come by and visit.

 4 Things Satya Nadella Plans for the Future of Microsoft

4 Things Satya Nadella Plans for the Future of Microsoft

Daniel B. Kline recently wrote an article for The Motley Fool where he quotes Satya Nadella in a letter he wrote to Microsoft employees ...

First, we will reinvent productivity services for digital work that span all devices. We will also extend our experience footprint by building more business process experiences, integrated into content authoring and consumption, communication and collaboration tools.
— http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/06/30/4-things-satya-nadella-plans-for-the-future-of-mic.aspx

And ...

All these experiences will be powered by our cloud platform — a cloud that provides our customers faster time to value, improved agility and cost reduction, and solutions that differentiate their business.
— http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/06/30/4-things-satya-nadella-plans-for-the-future-of-mic.aspx

This puts Microsoft Dynamics CRM clearly in the role of playing a platform.  This is good news.  We are finally seeing a direction provided by Microsoft leadership and it is generally in line with the direction that the tech community would like it to go on.

To read the full article, go to the following:  --> LINK <--

What does the future hold for Microsoft Dynamics?

What does the future hold for Microsoft Dynamics?

Mary Branscombe recently wrote ...

In many ways, Cloud & Enterprise is actually a more natural home for Dynamics, because the value of what Microsoft wants to deliver is less a commodity IT system like email or document storage, and more a strategic tool for managing the way your business works. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to these as “systems of intelligence” at Microsoft’s Convergence 2015 conference earlier this year, talking about “the reinvention of productivity and business process” together, because improving productivity is so deeply linked to improving both business applications and business processes. That’s much more than simply moving to the cloud for agility or cost savings.
— http://www.cio.com/article/2938931/customer-relationship-management/what-does-the-future-hold-for-microsoft-dynamics.html

And ...

Launched in April this year, App Services brings together a wide range of Microsoft services in an easy to use interface for building mobile and Web apps, as well as “logic apps” that make it easy to combine APIs and services into business processes and workflows. You can connect that to your own systems like SQL Server using Azure BizTalk Services. What used to be an EDI and application integration tool that connected your different servers and systems has become a hybrid integration service, giving you a simple way to build business-grade workflow into apps, combining cloud services and APIs with information that lives inside your firewall.
— http://www.cio.com/article/2938931/customer-relationship-management/what-does-the-future-hold-for-microsoft-dynamics.html

Read more from this article here:  --> LINK <--

Consulting firm goes mobile and amplifies Sales Productivity with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Consulting firm goes mobile and amplifies Sales Productivity with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

From Microsoft's customer stories page:

Adaptive Solutions is a consulting firm that provides business intelligence and advance analytics services. To better serve their growing base of pharmaceutical, retail, education, and public sector clients, Adaptive needed to share information and ideas among all of their consultants regardless of where they are working. Tablets and mobile devices sync with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 to generate benefits in cost savings, collaboration, ease-of-use, and scalability.
— https://customers.microsoft.com/Pages/CustomerStory.aspx?recid=20299&linkId=15371500

Here's a link to the web page with a video of their story:

--> LINK <--

Why moving Microsoft Dynamics into the Cloud+Enterprise division makes perfect sense

Why moving Microsoft Dynamics into the Cloud+Enterprise division makes perfect sense

James Staten on Microsoft moving Dynamics under Cloud+Enterprise:

Last week our CEO Satya Nadella announced a reorganization of our engineering groups that combined our client hardware and Windows teams, and moved Dynamics, our business process application group, into the cloud and enterprise division (C&E). The hardware and software move made clear sense in light of similar structures at Apple and Google. The Dynamics move to C&E may not be as clear and in fact I’ve received several questions from you, our clients about this. Moving Dynamics into Cloud + Enterprise not only represents Dynamics coming of age with solid growth and strong wave of innovate solutions, but there is also a clear logic here that aligns well with the strategies of each division as well as broader trends in enterprise applications.
— http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2015/06/25/why-moving-microsoft-dynamics-into-the-cloud-enterprise-division-makes-perfect-sense.aspx?linkId=15298695

Purely CRM Helps MetroQuest Increase Back Office Efficiencies with CRM

Purely CRM Helps MetroQuest Increase Back Office Efficiencies with CRM

May 26, 2015 - VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- MetroQuest has been utilizing the services of Purely CRM to enable their Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation achieve new levels of operational efficiencies.  The CRM configuration modifications facilitated by Purely CRM have allowed MetroQuest to overcome the operational hurdles associated with their previous CRM configuration.  Purely CRM also coached MetroQuest on how they can make additional adjustments to their CRM such that they can now make many remaining configuration modifications themselves.

Purely CRM used its' senior resources with deep Microsoft Dynamics CRM knowledge to enhance the opportunity management, sales process, project management, and the billing process.  Specifically with the billing process, the CRM configuration enhancements delivered by Purely CRM have enabled MetroQuest to better automate what were previously manual processes, and thereby reducing time, cost, and errors associated with invoicing their clients.

MetroQuest chose Purely CRM because of their experienced CRM resources.  Purely CRM worked closely with MetroQuest staff to ensure that complex configurations were implemented in CRM in a smooth fashion without interruption to MetroQuest's business processes.  MetroQuest now has better control and greater efficiency of some important back-office processes.

"We thought we were the technology experts with enough CRM skill to accomplish our objectives, but Purely CRM's expertise helped us to become much more effective," said Mike Walsh, President, MetroQuest.  "With the help of Purely CRM, MetroQuest is now able to continue with our own CRM configuration adjustments with the skill and speed that we could not have achieved without expert CRM knowledge and help."

"Most companies will offer you consultants who have generic consulting skills or simply one or two CRM projects worth of experience," said Marty Hall, Managing Director at Purely CRM.  "At Purely CRM, our consultants have been practicing CRM for more than ten years each and really understand the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product and customer relationship management system capabilities and limitations."

About MetroQuest
MetroQuest has been providing public involvement software and related services to the leading planning, engineering, architecture, and public involvement firms and agencies for over 18 years.  First developed through a major university research project, MetroQuest has gone on to be used in hundreds of high-profile and award-winning projects on five continents.  MetroQuest's growing team of professionals have decades of experience in both public engagement and software development, and their software has topped best practice lists for public involvement year after year.  For more information, visit their website at www.MetroQuest.com.

About Purely CRM
Purely CRM is a privately held company that is 100% focused on Microsoft Dynamics CRM with customers across North America.  As a team, they have been involved with Microsoft Dynamics CRM since version 1.0, which dates back to the early 2000's, and bring a combined 50+ years of experience.  Purely CRM has made the strategic decision to solely focus on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and brings industry expertise in such areas as mining, banking, membership management, manufacturing, and many, many more.  For more information, visit their website at www.purelycrm.com.

The Risk Of Hiring Consultants Who Are Not Passionate And Focused

The Risk Of Hiring Consultants Who Are Not Passionate And Focused

The power of passion

When Does Your Job Become Your Career?

I can't remember where or when I originally heard someone speaking about this, but I remember someone talking about when a job becomes your career.  Essentially, it boiled down to two parts.  The first part was being involved in some type of work where you realized that you could continue this work for the rest of your life and continue to make money.  The second part was realizing part one, not getting bored with it, and thinking you would stick this out till the end of your working life.

You Better Be Passionate About It

OK, so let's say you have realized you are going to stick with your money-making gig till the end of your career, how will you know when you are successful and happy with your choice?  I have heard success as being defined as getting what you want.  I have also heard happiness being described as wanting what you get.  The one thing I am sure of is that I am definitely happy with how my own career is turning out.  Starting with happiness is probably more important than focusing on success.  I believe you will naturally get success if you focus on the happiness side of the equation first.

CRM and the IT Industry Are My Passion

Since I got my first 300 baud modem and hooked it up to my Atari 800XL, I knew I was in love with computers.  I remember writing the program listings that you used to be able to find at the back of Byte magazine.  I would save them to the tape drive I had saved up for on my old Atari computer.  From that computer I moved on to a PC.  I remember installing Windows 1.0 and still have those disks somewhere at my parents' house.  Now I toil away on a Mac Air and deliver most of my jobs thru machines that are in the cloud or in some server room that I tunnel in to.  CRM is the software platform I have chosen for my profession and I love adding value to companies' business processes thru tweaking and configuring this platform.  I love my career.  I could not even imagine doing anything else at this point.

I could not even imagine the results that a company would get if they hired a consultant who was not passionate with her/his trade.  The results would most likely be, "meh?"  They might be OK, or not OK, but I highly doubt that would be taken to the level of consultant who was obsessed and passionate about their career.

Are you truly passionate about your job?  Is it your career?

purelycrm.com

The CIO's Must Have CRM Dashboard

The CIO's Must Have CRM Dashboard

Don't Miss Critical IT Operations Info

Purpose Of A Dashboard

The purpose of a dashboard in IT is to typically provide a one-pager on the state of things, similar to your dashboard on your car.  On your car you can quickly see the gas, the temperature, and the speed.  Does it show everything about your car, like tire pressure and brake fluid levels?  Most likely not, but it may show them if they become necessary to know.  The dashboard is kept to a clean and simple "must-know" information, unless some other flag should pop up as critical.

Quick Must-Know Facts

So, if you are the CIO of a company what would the "must-know" quick facts that you would require on your dashboard?  Of course, the answer here will vary from CIO to CIO; but, there should be some general consensus on what the key items are.  If I were to throw out some quick key items that I would want on my dashboard if I was a CIO there would be four items.

The first item would knowledge of the network and WIFI status.  Is the network up and the WIFI up across my office(s)?  Are the speeds OK on those networks.  The second item I would want to know are how many critical help desk tickets do we have in the system and what the top three critical items are.  The third item would be what staff do I have on-hand today, who is off, and any sub-contractors that have contracts coming up for renewal.  The fourth, and final item, that I would want to know is if I have any software licenses coming up for renewal.

Future Direction

CRM has the ability to provide a dashboard that would meet all the items listed in the previous section of this blog article with some configuration, but what is the future direction of dashboards?  The first thing I would like to see in CRM dashboards is better use of graphics.  Not simply graphs, but graphics similar to what you would find in a car dashboard like an oil can picture or a gas tank image.  The other direction that dashboards should offer is a quick method to flip between various dashboards.  Dashboard generally exist for each role or grouping of job functions within an organization.  The drop-down list view of various dashboards is not intuitive enough or a quick enough method to flip between dashboards.  The final thought is that I would like dashboards that can hide and show dashboard elements based on some sort of criteria.  For example, the oil can only shows on your car dash if their is low oil in your vehicle.  An example of that in CRM might be only showing upcoming software licenses if they are coming up for renewal, otherwise it should completely hide any mention of software licenses on the dashboard.

Is your dashboard letting you manage effectively?

purelycrm.com

Will CRM Go Away?

Will CRM Go Away?

Making Technology Fade Into The Background

My iPad Love Affair

I knew I was in love with my iPad when it won me away from my TV set as a form of decompressing in the evenings.  I was able to sit on the sofa and just flip thru news on the iPad as effortlessly as looking at a magazine.  I didn't have to hold a laptop on my lap or look at a screen that was not the idealized size for me.  I could get the latest news in both text and video format.  And, the whole iPad seemed to fade away and I could relax and be casually entertained.

The Objectives Of Technology

When I realized that my iPad had somehow made technology fade into the background, I came to a realization on where I felt technology should go; and, my thoughts on where technology should go were not only about the living room but also about the office.  What I wanted to see achieved was making technology in the business place also fade into the background.  Technology in the business place, for me, is all about increasing the efficiencies which result in a particular business need or objective being met.  The point of using technology to achieve the result is not about the technology, but about the end objective.  Too, too often I see companies sucked into technology for technology's sake as opposed to focusing on achieving streamlined business processes.

Fading Technology, and your CRM, Into The Background

Before you can make your technology fade into the background in your office, just like the iPad fades into the background in your living room, you need to look at getting your business processes down pact.  And when I mean getting your business processes down pact, I also mean understanding why you perform certain business processes in the first place.  I often see companies make business processes more efficient where the business processes itself is not necessary if you look at the underlying reason the process is being performed.  Step one is always to look at why the business process is being conducted.  The second step is to flow out the optimal business process to achieve that objective.  And the third step is to document the current business processes and determine the gap between them and the newly defined process.  The point at which CRM comes into the mix is always around structured data that needs to be captured that does not naturally fall into any other systems that may be in place (e.g., the accounting system).  If this can be achieved, you will slowly see the CRM system fade into the background as the workers focus on doing what they were hired to achieve in the first place: doing their job!

Are you focusing on making your CRM fade into the background?

purelycrm.com

Two Must Know Things About CRM Today

Two Must Know Things About CRM Today

Is the CRM world about to change?

Are These Two CRM News Items Connected?

The first news item is Microsoft's goal of getting to $20 billion in cloud revenue by 2018.  That would imply that Microsoft will triple its' cloud revenue in the next three years.  In 2014 Microsoft had cloud revenue of $5.5 billion.  Based on Microsoft's latest quarterly earnings report, they are on track to have cloud revenues of $6.3 billion in 2015.  So, how are they going to get to $20 billion in three years with the current rate of growth?

The second news item is that Salesforce has hired financial advisors to help it because they were approached by a potential acquirer.  It is unlikely that Salesforce would hire the financial advisors if they were not truly approached to be acquired.  What is not known though is who approached them.

Who Are The Potential Suitors?

There are only a handful of companies who could potentially acquire a Salesforce company as they are currently worth $47 billion.  Those suitors most likely would be Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Google, and IBM.

I am going to eliminate Google and IBM from this mix.  Google is, essentially, an advertising company and so I think it is a long shot that they would want to get into the CRM business.  IBM would have to get heavy financing to make this deal happen as they only have $8.8 billion in cash on hand.

SAP would also have to take on heavy debt if they wanted to acquire Salesforce.  SAP only has $5 billion of cash on hand and would have to finance the rest of the acquisition.

This leaves Microsoft and Oracle as contenders in this acquisition.  Microsoft has $95.4 billion in cash on hand and Oracle has $13.7 billion in cash on hand and another $30 billion in marketable securities.

What Happens To Microsoft Dynamics CRM If Salesforce Is Bought?

There are three possible scenarios that could play out if Microsoft would acquire Salesforce.  The first scenario is that nothing drastic happens.  Salesforce would be branded as a Microsoft product and both the Dynamics CRM product and Salesforce product would continue to coexist in the marketplace.  This is not unforeseeable as Microsoft has GP and NAV accounting products and has not combined them yet.  In fact, in the short run, this is the most likely scenario.

Another possible scenario is that Microsoft phases out Salesforce and integrates its' good components into the Dynamics CRM product.  If this were to happen, it would have to happen over a long period of time because this would be no trivial task.

And the final possible scenario would be that Dynamics CRM would be slowly wound down and the Salesforce product would take over.  Again, it would take time for this to happen if this scenario were to play out.  And, Microsoft would most likely create some sort of transition plan for its' existing Dynamics CRM customers if this were to happen.

I want to leave you with these thoughts and questions:  Is Microsoft the mystery potential acquirer?  Does Microsoft need this acquisition to hit its' target cloud revenue goals?  Is this simply a rumour or strategy on the part of the potential buyer to tie up potentially large pipeline deals for Salesforce because the potential acquisition makes their buyers hesitate?

What are your thoughts?  How would this acquisition impact you?

purelycrm.com

The Risk With CRM Resources

The Risk With CRM Resources

What makes a good CRM Consultant?

The Right Stuff

When I was 13 years only I remember watching the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff”.  The movie was about the “space race” and the team of pilots/astronauts who eventually landed on the moon.  I remember thinking what makes these people special other than the obvious reasons.  What makes this particular group of people have the right stuff?  After all there were thousands of qualified people to choose from.    Was it there superior intellect, the superior athletic ability, stamina, or is it something else that is difficult to quantify?    History tells us that these people were handpicked to achieve a monumental task.  They were all experts in their fields and excelled and what they did.   They had an extraordinary task to accomplish under “extraordinary” circumstances and they succeeded but sometime as great risk and loss.

The Wrong Stuff

Later in life I actually became a commercial pilot and during my flight training I watched an educational movie called, strangely enough, “The Wrong Stuff”.  It was a documentary whose aim was to point out the breakdown in the cockpit during stressful circumstances such as in-flight emergencies.  There were many different responses by flight crew depending on their background, training, and individual personalities.  Some ex-military fighter pilots tended to over control the cockpit which caused them to stop delegating important tasks to other crew members.  Some civilian pilots had a very hierarchical approach to the cockpit as well.  The captain was considered the “boss” and his judgement was seen as the last word and not to be questioned by the other crew members.  There are many cases when the co-pilot or flight engineer sat idly while the captain crashed the plane.  It seems very counter intuitive that the same people who could fly a space craft to the moon could be a detriment in a commercial airliner cockpit, but you have to understand….these are two different approaches to a similar task and therefore require different skill sets.  A flight to the moon is a risky business while flying a commercial airliner is supposed to be routine.  The differentiator may seem small but in reality it is very big.  Today’s commercial airline pilot will fly the same plane daily and is expected to keep everything within very strict limits at all times.  The crew mitigates the risk to passengers, themselves, and the airplane.  They typically have years of experience which helps them to foresee any potential problem and act long before something terrible happens.  So the real difference between a commercial airline pilot of today and a NASA test pilot is the risk tolerance.  This says nothing about the underlying capabilities of each group.  Just the approach to the task.

CRM — Crew Resource Management?

In order to correct these problems the aviation industry implemented a new training program known, coincidently, as CRM (Crew Resource Management).  The intent was to break down the hierarchal structure in the cockpit and have crews work together as a team instead of as individuals.  CRM is now a standard in the aviation industry and you’ll want to bet the captain on the next flight you take has had lots of training in it.

CRM vs CRM — Parallels

As a Microsoft CRM consultant I see a lot of parallels between these two worlds.   I have worked with many different consultants on a variety of different project over the years.  Every consultant I’ve worked with has had different approaches to implementing CRM.  Some approaches were slightly different and some radically different.  Even when skill and experience are equivalent the approach is sometimes the factor that indicates to me whether they have the “Right Stuff”.   

Understanding Where You Are Going

For Purely CRM, the “Right Stuff” is a consultant who not only takes the time to understand the client’s requirements and processes but also ensures that they stay within budget and scope while mitigating risks.  This usually starts by having a clear picture of where we are going, setting expectations, confirming them with the client and working to meet the objective.

It’s a great thing to know a lot about CRM, but if you attempt to fly the client to the moon when they only needed to go to “New York” then you are not doing a good job as a consultant.   If the client needs to go to “New York”, then the right approach is to carefully plan the route, check the weather, do a preflight inspection, make sure we have enough fuel, and set off to our destination.  While en-route we may need to make slight course corrections but we know exactly where were going and how were are going to get there.

This is truly the difference between a CRM consultant with the “Right Stuff” and a test pilot.

Don't Miss The Opportunity To Be Strategic With CRM

Don't Miss The Opportunity To Be Strategic With CRM

From back office to the front office

IT Is No Longer Relegated To The Back Office

Times, they are a changing.  It was not that long ago that we all thought of IT as merely a cost saver in back office operations.  It was relegated to running the infrastructure that a company was based upon.  It made it possible to do the accounting, run the shop floor, or handle the phone systems.

CRM Plays A Key Role In The Future Of IT

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems truly helped to take IT out of the back office and move it over to the sales side of the business equation.  It enabled organizations to better focus on their customers, to understand their needs thru the buying cycle, and provide better customer support.  CRM became the knowledge base that helped organizations retain the organizational knowledge within the company, even after key employees left.  And, CRM did all of this while integrating with the old IT, the back office.  CRM also plays a key role in collecting all the information that will go into the business intelligence systems to help look at the big-data.

From The Industrial Age To The Information Age

The big change that we are currently in the process of going thru is moving from an industrial age to an information age.  It means that all businesses are essentially becoming information enterprises.  Some would argue that this transformation in our economies has already taken place, but a lot of companies still have to go thru this change and truly understand what it means for them.  IT has now become an enabler for businesses to achieve objectives they never thought possible before.  An understanding of how IT can help with your organization's differentiator is what will help most organizations.

Does your organization see IT as strategically enhancing your organization's offering?  Is CRM a part of that?

purelycrm.com

A Team Of CRM Experts Is Better Than One

A Team Of CRM Experts Is Better Than One

Sole Contractors Know This -- Having Good Backup Is Key!

Freedom In Flying Solo

When I first started contracting some nine years ago, there was this great sense of liberation in being solo.  I felt like a mercenary who showed up with is own shield and sword, a laptop and my intellect, to fight for hire.  I no longer cared about my "title" or about "promotions".  The sense of freedom, even if it was just in my head, was extremely liberating.

Sometimes We Can't Do It All

There were a few projects I had, though, were I wished I had the old support network I had when I was back with Pivotal.  Back in those days I could have walked over to the Support Team to ask questions or call on the Technical Writing Team to point me to an exact location in the documentation to help me; but, as a sole contractor those days were gone.  Along with all that freedom I loved was also this need to be completely self reliant.

Where Is My Go To Expert Nowadays?

Things have sure changed now that I am a partner in a firm of individuals focused on the same skill sets.  Although I would consider myself an expert in CRM, I am now with a team of experts.  If something is not known to me about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, I can get an answer to my question in minutes now.  And although I still consider myself pretty self-reliant, the knowledge that I have these other experts just a call away gives me a sense of empowerment that I have not felt in long time.

Do you have a network of experts that you can call on for help?

purelycrm.com

Don't Miss Out On Better Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Features

Don't Miss Out On Better Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Features

Why Upgrade To Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015?  It's all about the user experience (UX) !

The Original Promise

I started implementing CRM software 17 years ago.  I remember the promise back then was that the implementation of a CRM would transform you company overnight.  Your entire enterprise would switch from loosely defined processes (typically in the form of spreadsheets, memos and scattered documents laying around in shared folders or fling cabinets) to what was supposed to be a well-oiled machine using software to solve all your complex and time consuming business problems.    Companies courageous enough to take the leap were expecting a fast transformation.  All that was required was an investment in CRM software and “presto”.  Or so the promise was…..

Where's The Great User Experience (UX) ?

I’ll have to admit, it was a compelling argument and I, like many others, “bought in” hard.    The real problem was that the software manufacturers, consultants, and the companies implementing the CRM still had a lot of maturing to do.   With end users there was typically unrealistic expectation of the products.  Very often the CRM consultants implementing the solution didn’t’ do a good job of capturing real business requirements, tying them to the process and mapping them to the capabilities within the platforms.  To make matters worse the applications of the day were very much focused on features instead of user experience (UX).  The end result was often less than ideal (or even nonexistent) user adoption.

Well things have changed a lot over the past few year....We believe that Microsoft CRM has hit an unparalleled level of maturity that now delivers on that old promise. Focuses more (or at least as much) on the user experience than its features.

The Typical Issues / Usual Suspects

From the perspective of someone who has been implementing CRM since the mid 90’s I’ll have to admit, I heard a lot of recurring themes over the years and a lot of them are, for the most part, very valid points.  The most common issues that resonate with me are the following:

  • There are too many clicks to enter data in the CRM – it slows me down and makes my life more difficult without providing me much value.
  • How do we make it easier (more intuitive) for users.  The user interface is very confusing and I never know what to do next.
  • I need to be able to use CRM on a mobile device like a phone or tablet in order to help me do my job more effectively.

With every release of Microsoft CRM there has been wonderful enhancement to the products.  This ranges from “multi-tenancy”, to enhancements in workflow, and dialogs as well as developer tools etc.   Although these have all been great improvements to the product, they have done little to address the core user experience (UX) issues.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Is Attempting To Address Those Issues

Flattened User Interface (UI)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 is a complete rethink from the user interface (UI) perspective.  One of most impressive things about this new release is the flattening of the user interface (single window experience).  This might seem trivial at first but it is huge change in how the user ...

... interacts with the application.  In the past each time a new record was created for CRM a new window would open up overtop the last.  This became a very confusing for the user thus increasing their cognitive load.  Simply keeping track of where you are and what are working on can be a big challenge.   The new UI experience takes a lot of the confusion away from the user so they can now work in context of what is important and relevant to them without getting lost in “open window hell”.  Another thing to note is that new user interface is also supported in a multi browser (cross browser support) can use IE, Chrome or Firefox to access the system.   The results speak for themselves.  For example, entering a phone call keeps you completely in the same context of the Account or Contact.  You never lose the page you are working on.  It simple crisp and clear.  No more cognitive overload!

The (UI) is also much easier to user to navigate.  In previous version of Microsoft CRM there was a lot of clutter on the ribbons and left hand navigations.  

 If you look at the new UI for CRM 2015 you’ll notice that the experience has been really cleaned-up.  The ribbon is gone has been replace with the top of page command bar.

The 2015 navigation pane has been incorporated in to a new control on the top page which really reduces clutter and simplifies the end user experience. 

Business Process Flow 

Another great feature is the new Business Process Flow UI.  This feature allows you to setup CRM to guide users through a logical set of steps to move through sales, service, support or whatever process you need to define for your business.  The process flow allows organization to get much more prescriptive with their business processes allowing for a much more consistent/repeatable process.

Mobile

Although Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013/2015 is supported on smart phones it’s my opinion that the Tablet is the best “form factor” for productive CRM use when out-and-about.  Microsoft CRM 2013-2015 application has introduced the new Mobile Client Application (MoCA) Tablet client.  This new tablet client allows for an experience that is tailored to tables such as a Windows Surface or an IPad.   User can pin Tiles to the windows start screen for quick access.  The application is also tightly integrated on both platforms so that user can initial an email or start a Skype call simply by touching the screen.  The MoCA client also works with the “business process flow UI” which keeps the experience consistent across different devices i.e. (Laptop, Desktop, Tablet etc.).

Conclusion

I would say that in the past Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been focused on delivering more features than addressing some of these core user experience (UX) issues.    We know that is never an easy journey and software manufactures have to balance a lot of things to bring a product to market.  I think we can now safely say that Microsoft has switched its primary attention away from features (not completely of course) and is now really starting to focus on the user experience (UX) issues.  In my opinion Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 has hit a “home run” when it comes to UI improvements.  I would encourage anyone to take a “test drive” http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-test-drive.aspx  of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.  I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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