As the newly minted Dynamics CRM admin at Trek, I feel I’ve got just enough experience to be a danger to myself and others. Therefore, it’s time for a blog post.
We’re using the Microsoft hosted, Online version of CRM and it’s been interesting to find many Microsoft Partners have shied away from that choice. As opposed to SharePoint consultants pushing the Microsoft O365 kool-aid, it seems that many partners are pushing their own hosted versions over Microsoft’s. Very much a departure from what I’m used to.
What’s also interesting is that Microsoft CRM plays second fiddle to Salesforce.com right now. I haven’t done enough research to know who has the larger install base, but it’s definitely clear from a Marketing standpoint that Salesforce is where it’s at right now. In my native world, SharePoint is – hands-down – the king of Enterprise Content Mgmt systems, but with Microsoft CRM it feels like the product is playing catch-up.
Strategy-wise, 3 things have struck me about ensuring success for your CRM deployment:
- Know your processes – you have to know how your users are going to use this; “build it and they will come” does not work here
- Don’t make CRM a fancy front end to your ERP system – this blog post sums it up for me
- Social (just like in SharePoint) is king
Know your processes
I’ve read a lot of blog posts lately about failed CRM deployments that were supposed to “replace Outlook.” Replacing Outlook – while a noble pursuit – is a lackluster strategy if you don’t know how your people actually use Outlook to begin with when it comes to managing customers. It means you have to ask the hard questions and get your hands dirty with your users. Document as much as you can when it comes to process. That way expectations can be set and everyone understands how things should work.
CRM cannot be a fancy front end to ERP
The blog post I linked above did more for me than almost all the others combined. If you want to guarantee an almost certain death to your deployment, make it a front end to your ERP system. While surfacing data from your ERP system is not entirely bad, recreating ALL the data is bad. Why would I go to CRM to do some of the things I can do in my ERP system when I can just go to my ERP system and do everything.
Social is king
If you’re not collaborating in your CRM system, then you’re doing it wrong. Same can be said for SharePoint. Social is only going to get more and more important as time goes on and more people join social networks in their personal life. Obviously Microsoft sees value in Social since they dropped 2 Bil on Yammer, meaning that product is going to be ingrained in all other Microsoft products. Therefore, there are now 3 truths in life: Death, Taxes, & Social in the workplace. Get used to it.
So that’s what I’ve learned so far. I have more opinions on the subject of CRM, but they may/may not be right based on my experience thus far. I’ll post more as I get more “in-the-know.”