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2 2 COMPANY INFORMATION Year founded: Ownership: Number of employees: Annual revenues: Target market: Vertical markets: Company locations: Awards: Certifications: Partners: Partner programs: Web site: 1975 Public (NYSE: MSFT) 9,1000 (FY2008) $60B USD (FY2008) Small and Midmarket organizations (On Demand CRM focus) Horizontal and cross industry. Little vertical depth. Headquarters: One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington Other numerous worldwide locations. CRM Magazine CRM Market Leader in Small and Midmarket CRM Suite category SAS70 Thousands depending on geography, vertical, size of business and specific needs. Avanade, Sonoma Partners, i5 and Webfortis are a few nationally recognized ones in the US. Yes, channel partner program for both hosting and implementation services.
3 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY is Microsoft s latest Customer Relationship Management (CRM) offering in its Dynamics line of business software targeted at the small to medium sized business market. When Dynamics CRM 4.0 was released earlier this year, it marked the third generation for the product line (version 2 was skipped entirely) and a significant improvement on many of the issues that caused Microsoft s CRM offering to fall short on many industry analyst evaluation scales, as well as the majority of CRM evaluation short lists for mid market and enterprise businesses. Dynamics CRM 4.0 is a balanced CRM offering that includes strong Sales Force Automation (SFA) functionality, basic Marketing functionality and a sufficient level of Customer Support functionality for the average small or mid market business. This latest offering continues to offer a large number of benefits and flexibility to small and medium sized organizations that are committed to the Microsoft technologies and have modest needs in the customer service and marketing areas. Larger enterprises, in general, or smaller ones with complex marketing or service needs should evaluate this latest release carefully to determine if the functionality is adequate to meet their requirements. VENDOR BACKGROUND AND HISTORY Consistent with Microsoft s historical release and improve approach to product management, Microsoft Small Business CRM 1.0, released in early 2003 was, at best, an extension of the Outlook client with limited functionality that allowed users to manage accounts and contacts with a few more details. As the name suggests, it was targeted exclusively at small businesses that wanted to improve their ability to track accounts and contacts and replace the traditional contact management solutions that run as desktop applications. A host of technical challenges with installing, setting up and using the product, coupled with the limited functionality, resulted in relatively few adopters of this initial release. Microsoft continued to add fixes and features throughout 2003 in service packs and released version 1.2 in late 2003, which added language support for a small number of languages and improved setup. Version 3.0, released in late 2005 added the ability to access CRM through the web via Microsoft hosting partners and added a more robust set of features to support Marketing and Service functions. The Dynamics moniker was added to emphasize the integration with the Great Plains Dynamics line of Accounting and ERP products. It also included page customizations to entities and attributes as well as workflow capabilities that allowed users to easily setup and manage their own rules. Integration with Outlook remained strong, with support for Outlook and Exchange 2007, and added to that was tighter integration with the Office suite of products. Lastly, Microsoft also added support for Vista when that became available giving IT organizations options of which OS to deploy the solution on. Dynamics Version 4.0 adds a number of additional features and functions, the most prominent being the ability to support multi-tenancy and the ability to access the entire application as a service hosted either by Microsoft directly or through one of Microsoft s hosting partners (more about both of those features later in this paper). Dynamics CRM 4.0 also takes advantage of the many improvements Microsoft has made to its technology stack. It employs Windows Workflow Foundation and Communication Foundation components as well as improved reporting through SQL Server Reporting and Analytic Services. These will provide a better degree of integration and intersystem collaboration flexibility as well as better reporting and analysis capabilities. Lastly, Dynamics CRM 4.0 supports a larger set of languages through Multilanguage User Interface (MUI) packs and has multi-currency support now as part of Microsoft s continued effort to entice larger organizations to consider Dynamics CRM as an enterprise level solution.
4 4 PRICING & SERVICE OFFERINGS (HOSTED / ON SITE) comes in three deployment options and multiple editions or offerings for each of those. On Premise This is a traditional perpetual software license that requires you to buy the product from Microsoft directly, through a retail outlet or from a Microsoft Certified Partner. This also means that you must provide and maintain the hardware that runs the system. Because of this, you should factor in the cost to setup the infrastructure and maintain it, as well as handle the administration of the CRM product itself. Pricing varies based on the edition you buy, number of users you license, what is bundled with your purchase and who you buy it from. It also requires licensing of the Microsoft Small Business Server 2003, which has its own costs and constraints on how it is deployed and configured. Like many other Microsoft products, Dynamics CRM 4.0 comes in three editions: Edition Features Targeted At Workgroup Edition Professional Edition Enterprise Edition Maximum of 5 users. Can only be deployed on a single server for a single organization. Unlimited users. Can only be deployed for a single organization. Unlimited users. Can be deployed to multiple organizations or a single organization on one or multiple servers. Small Business Mid Market Enterprise The benefits of all of these on premise options is that you have the ability to integrate the solution with applications behind your corporate firewall and link in your own custom applications or pages that would not otherwise be possible through a hosted delivery of the same applications. There are also benefits of integrating with your own Exchange server and leveraging Microsoft development tools such as Visual Studio and.net framework to develop your own complimentary applications leveraging information contained in the CRM application. Of course, this does require you to make changes to Exchange and Active Directory Environments, which may cause concern for some CIOs who have wrestled with unwinding such changes in the past. The drawbacks of an on premise model are the upfront costs for the licensing, one-time infrastructure investments, and ongoing maintenance costs that are part of any on premise solution.
5 5 CRM Live Dynamics CRM 4.0 can be leased as a service directly from Microsoft in North America and from Microsoft hosting partners internationally. The CRM Live offering from Microsoft allows the company to compete directly in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space with the likes of Salesforce.COM, RightNow, Aplicor, Netsuite, Entellium, and others. This product offers the same features and functions as the on premise solution with the exception of integration and hosting of custom web pages. The hosted or SaaS model allows you to lease user licenses on a per seat basis each month without any infrastructure costs. Dynamics CRM 4.0 Live comes in two editions as well: Edition Features Price * Targeted At Professional Full CRM functionality. 100 workflows and customizations. Outlook integration. $39/user/month Small Business Professional Plus All features above, plus: added storage (20GB versus 5GB for Professional), Offline Synchronization, 100 additional customizations and workflow rules. $59/user/month Mid Market (*) Prices are published on Microsoft s website as of the writing of this paper and subject to change. The primary difference between the two Live editions is that the Plus edition offers Offline Synchronization. This means that it installs a local copy of SQL Server 2005 on your laptop or PC and downloads a subset of the data that is available to you in the online system to your local machine. This allows you to work with CRM in an offline mode and synchronize once a connection is reestablished. This is a common feature of some of the better SaaS CRM solutions available and may be relevant if you have a remote workforce with limited connectivity. The primary benefit of the hosted or SaaS option is that it allows you to setup and use the application with no infrastructure costs. This can often accelerate the time to setup and implement a solution of this kind and can also allow you to deploy it in a phased approach without any regard to how to deploy it physically. As long as there is a high speed internet connection available and an IE browser on your machine, you can access CRM Live from anywhere, just as you can with any SaaS based solution. This option can also be used to try out a pilot of the system to validate requirements and design assumptions before you commit to spending money for a full on premise implementation. One thing to watch out for with the CRM Live option is that Microsoft, albeit a giant in the software industry, is a relative newcomer to the SaaS space. For example, they ve committed to spending over 1 billion dollars on data centers and infrastructure specifically for this product line. While they have the resources to deploy software in this way, they may not have the requisite experience to deliver and manage it the same way many other SaaS providers have done and refined over the last several years. While Microsoft is always great at figuring things out over time, providing access to a mission critical CRM application is not the same as having an issue with a Sharepoint site. As Salesforce.com has taught many SaaS customers, being associated with a giant in the industry doesn t necessarily guarantee performance and reliability.
6 6 Partner Hosted There is also a Partner Hosted option for Dynamics CRM 4.0 from one of the many Microsoft hosting partners. These partners are value added resellers of Microsoft products and often bundle the hosted service with their own implementation services, flexible hosting options and third party add in products that can both increase the value you get from the solution and the cost that you pay for that solution. While this service can sound and look like the CRM Live product offered directly from Microsoft, it can come with both benefits and risks. The number of options and prices are too numerous to include here and you ll have to use Microsoft s own Pinpoint services to find the hosting partner that is right for you. The benefits of this option is that you can work with a local provider that can provide both industry and product knowledge along with any necessary setup and configuration services. You can also negotiate to have other services, options and service level agreement (SLA) metrics included as part of your contract that may not be available from Microsoft directly. The risks with using a hosting partner all stem from the degree of variability and quality from one partner to another. Even with a certification process from Microsoft, there is no guarantee of performance or uptime with a hosted solution. There can also be wide variations in pricing and contract terms especially on country by country basis. There can also be a fair amount of finger pointing when you re dealing with another party and relying on them to get you support and information from Microsoft when something stops working. If you decide that a hosted model is for you, you should consider your need for assistance and the options that are important to you in an agreement before deciding on getting the service directly from Microsoft or a hosting partner. Both can be good choices and both have benefits and risks associated with them. FUNCTIONALITY Microsoft Dynamics CRM, like most other CRM systems is comprised of three core modules or bundles of features around the sales force automation (SFA), marketing, and customer support (CS) functions. In addition, there are some common components that span the modules. We ll focus our functional review on these four areas. Sales Force Automation From its earliest release Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been, at its core, a strong account and contact management solution. As a natural extension of Outlook, CRM allows the user to turn those contacts into Leads, Accounts and Contacts in CRM and to also convert them into Opportunities and ultimately into Orders and Invoices. With respect to Leads, Accounts and Contacts, there are a large number of fields and tabs available to capture key attributes about each and, through a new Relationships Editor, you can link each to the others in a 1:1, 1:N and N:N configuration. For example, an Account can have many Contacts and can be related to those Contacts as employees of or owners of the Account. A Contact can also, if you configure the relationship, be related to many Accounts, to one as a former employee and to another Account as a current employee as an example. You can also use self referencing relationships by relating an Account to itself. I m not sure I can provide an example of that one, but I m sure there are business models out there that have a need for that type of connection. Opportunities, as in other CRM systems, are containers that hold information about an opportunity to sell a product or service at a specific price to a specific prospect or customer within a given timeframe and have a variable probability of success or failure. All of these elements come together into a sales pipeline. Opportunities can be generated from an Account or Contact and you can also convert an Opportunity into a Quote and then an Order automatically, which is a handy feature especially for users of the Dynamics accounting products. There are also many ways to collect information on an Opportunity, including a whole menu item on
7 7 selecting a price list and set of products for the Opportunity. As you would expect, integration with the Microsoft Office suite is very tight and the ability to do things like setup and use multiple templates and merge to Outlook or Word is impressive. Also, exports to Excel are available on almost every page. Quotes and Orders also work hand in hand with a product catalog that supports kitting, substitute pricing and multiple price lists that can be applied at the Account or Opportunity level. There is a straightforward flow of drafting and finalizing Quotes and turning them into Orders and Invoices. This is a nice feature for smaller companies who may want to do their ordering and invoicing directly in the CRM product. For companies using Great Plains or one of the other Dynamics small business accounting solutions such as Solomon, Microsoft has an integrated solution to push orders and invoices between systems. For larger companies that may not be on one of the Dynamics ERP or Accounting solutions, integration to an order management solution will be required as it is with most other CRM-only solutions. At this time, there is no SaaS version of any of the Dynamics solutions available so a hosted option would not provide the back office integration that the on premise option does. There are a number of new features in version 4.0 that are used front and center with Sales. One of them is the ability to record transactions in different currencies and have them translated into a base currency by organization. This coupled with the new language packs and the ability to segment your organization by Business Unit, Site and Team allows you to define and report on results at each level. This segmentation, coupled with role based security, allows you to segment visibility to Accounts and related entities (Contacts, Opportunities, etc.) by owner, business unit or other attributes. Another new feature with version 4.0 is the ability to turn an inbound activity into an Account, a Contact or an Opportunity. Also new with this version is the ability to have duplication rules defined at the Account and Contact level independently. This is a great feature for example if you want to search for duplicate Accounts by account name or website address and Contacts using address. While a very flexible feature, it stops a bit short in that it allows the user to bypass the warning, which results in duplicate Accounts and Contacts nonetheless. All in all, I found the Sales module and the ability to collect and manage sales related information very strong. While I found the system to have a great deal of depth and breadth in collecting this information, I found myself almost overwhelmed with the sheer number of menu items, tabs, options, popup windows, etc. that are available, and in some cases required, to go through the setup of an given entity within the system. The fact that Microsoft included a Forms Assistant to help you fill out forms is a good indication that the forms are not intuitive and sometimes overwhelming. One of the biggest deterrents to adoption of any system, especially a SFA solution, is the challenge for sales users to understand how the information relates and how any why it needs to be entered. The high failure rate of CRM implementations with traditional on premise CRM solutions such as Siebel, SAP and Oracle can be attributed to the complexity to setup and use those systems. This is why simple SaaS solutions like SalesForce.com, at the lowest end of flexibility and complexity, were able to achieve such a high degree of success in terms of adoption. It is this endless sea of options and flexibility in Microsoft CRM, even in a nicely presented package, that will require a similar amount of dumbing down to be relevant and accepted by the average sales user. As a SaaS solution, it can t match the simplicity of some of the SaaS solutions that have been able to add functionality and adaptability over the years without harming the end user experience. Even with the significant setup and use options, there are a few features that are typically standard fare for a CRM suite that are just not here. Chief among them is the lack of any type of sales process management built into the Opportunity forms. Most sales organizations follow a 5-7 step process and often have probabilities linked to those steps. While this can be customized with limited effort through tools and workflow rules, it s a basic feature that should be here. Another one that s not here is any method to score or evaluate Opportunities within the CRM. While there are some rating fields, there s no method to generate a scorecard or set of questions to setup and manage a consistent way to qualify Leads or Opportunities. While not as common,
8 8 especially among the newer SaaS platforms, this is something that, given the depth of other aspects of this product, should be included as a standard feature. Another limitation in this version is the ability to do any level of detailed loss analysis by competitor. While Dynamics CRM 4.0 provides a basic method to define Competitors (strengths, weaknesses, etc.) and link them to Opportunities, it lacks the ability to perform any win/loss analysis and to collect that information at the opportunity level. While it s often difficult for sales users to collect, let alone enter competitor information, having this feature can be critical to understanding the difference between success and failure in the sales process. There s also no Partner Relationship Management (PRM) functionality, which is a key feature of many of the more mature CRM solutions in the market, both on premise and SaaS. While only relevant if you distribute products and/or services through third party channels, this is a logical extension that is yet to be included in the product as a core module. Marketing Management Best of class CRM systems take advantage of the fact that marketing management can be one of the clear areas where a CRM initiative can deliver payback. By analyzing the detailed rich data tracked on customers in the CRM, marketing professionals ought to be able to refine product offerings, develop focused campaigns, and conduct marketing programs across a wide range of media and channels. The payoff for the rich data captured in the CRM is better positioning the right products for the right customers leading to greater sales. As with most full suite CRM solutions, Microsoft CRM 4.0 lacks the sophistication of best of breed marketing solutions, but offers the benefits of an integrated solution with limited marketing functionality. It allows you to create and manage Campaigns, define one or more Marketing Lists of targets that can be used to apply Activities or Distributions that can be , Phone, Fax or Hard Copy based. It also allows you to setup third party vendors and designate Activities directly to them. This is a nice feature as many organizations use third party print and bulk mail or providers as participants in the campaign. It also allows you to assign a cost per contact for each Activity that is summarized as an overall cost at the Campaign level. This is a nice feature to track costs. Each Account and/or Contact targeted for the Distribution will have an Activity automatically created for them in the application that may require disposition by a sales or telemarketing person (Appointment and Phone call are two that are logical for this). Campaign Responses can be captured automatically through links or can be generated manually as well. Those responses are collected and available as part of the Campaign as well. A few features that stand out are the Quick Campaigns and the Marketing Lists. Quick Campaigns are somewhere between a mail merge and a full blown Campaign. They allow a user to leverage one or more Marketing Lists and generate a specific type of Marketing Activity or Distribution. This is a great feature that also has with it the ability to limit and manage who can set these up and execute them to guard against the accidental mail merge to 10,000 prospects. Another great feature is the ability to create, save and manage multiple Marketing Lists. This feature allows you to put Accounts and Contacts into specific groups that grow as additional Accounts or Contacts meet the criteria that the list is based on. These lists can be published and used by other users in the organization for mail merges and combined for Campaigns and Quick Campaigns. You can add or delete individual contacts from these lists and also search through them. Duplicates are eliminated when combining multiple lists to avoid sending an or calling a contact more than once for a given campaign. This is also a really nice feature and one that all CRM systems should have as a core feature. With all of its nice features, Marketing is by far Microsoft Dynamics CRM s lightest module. For example, while you can track Campaign Responses and link Campaigns as lead sources on Accounts and/or Opportunities, there is limited analytical reporting or effectiveness reporting out of the box. There is also no comparative reporting of budgets to actual for anything other than basic costs, revenues and Account and Contact reach percentages. Lastly, campaigns are
9 9 built on the fundamental premise that the targets are known entities within the system. There is a lack of support for Pay Per Click (PPC) and web landing page based Campaigns that incrementally add Accounts and Contacts into the system while simultaneously tracking the effectiveness of the organic search or ad-word based PPC Campaigns. There are a number of on premise CRM solutions that offer this and in the SaaS space, Salesforce.com and Aplicor are two that are offering it as of the writing of this paper. Customer Service Customer Service is typically an area of CRM systems where organizations manage their relationships with existing customers as they support and service products and services that those customers have purchased. Done well, it can provide a great link back to the Sales and Product Management teams to help manage customer relationships and improve products respectively. Some organizations also need the ability to assign and schedule resources in the field to diagnose and service products which is a natural extension of the Customer Service function and module. While Sales could be considered the strongest Dynamics CRM module and Marketing the weakest one, Service, Microsoft s Customer Service offering, is somewhere in the middle with some of the strongest features as well as some of the weakest. A key strength of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 is the ability to define and manage service Contracts for customers linked to their Orders and to link those Contracts to service levels. Another key strength is the ability to setup a working calendar for the organization as a whole and also setup individual calendars of available time by resource. This is important for setting up standard support working hours (eg 9AM 6PM M-F) and also to establish available days and hours for each member of your support and field service teams. Couple that with the ability to setup and manage a central Service Calendar and assign resources to pre-defined, effort based Service Activities based on their availability and you ve got the makings of a solid field service and support function. To put this into perspective, you can define specific Service Activities, such as Air Conditioning Checkup that allows you to link a number of estimated hours and materials needed to perform that specific Service Activity when it s assigned to someone. You can then create a Case and select that Service Activity and others as required to complete the Case. The system will then assign that Service Activity based on availability of resources and schedule them to complete it on a central Service Calendar. There s also a nice set of features around the creation and management of a knowledge base. Designated users can create an FAQ document, a Procedure, a Solution to a Problem or a general KB article that, once published, can be searched and accessed by other users of Customer Service. This is a feature of most CRM solutions and Microsoft does a nice job of providing flexibility in how these are created, managed and accessed. Version 4.0 also adds the ability to define articles in different languages so that it can be matched to the user. It also goes beyond that by providing reporting on how often a KB article is used to solve an issue. For all of its strengths, the Service module lacks a few key features. For example, a customer self service portal is a given for most of its CRM competitors, but is not here. While the KB is strong, the ability to search existing cases as a way to apply lessons and resolutions is not included. While there is a way to define a standard resolution type, there is no support for root cause types and root cause analysis. There is also no process or method to define who a Case is assigned to and escalated to. While there s a great feature throughout the system to take inbound s from Exchange and create a Queue to track them, a user needs to manually convert them to a Case. Many competitors have the ability to generate Cases directly from inbound s and track subsequent activities against that Case. Lastly, there are limited analysis capabilities built in and a small number of packaged reports. While this can be overcome with Report Wizard and Custom Reports and/or Dashboards, the latter two require developer involvement to get them done.
10 10 COMMON COMPONENTS There are a number of components that are common to all three core modules of any CRM system. Those are typically divided into four areas: Security, Workflow, Reporting, Business Intelligence, Customization and Integration/API. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is no exception and version 4.0 includes a number of improvements in many of those areas. Security Microsoft offers a role based security setup within Dynamics CRM that has become fairly common among both SaaS and on premise CRM solutions. What Microsoft does that is unique is it applies those roles to all aspects of the system which provides both an unlimited amount of flexibility and also an equal amount of potential complexity to get setup correctly. What is new with this version is the ability to assign security at a variety of levels based on properties of the user. For example, you can limit visibility to Accounts and underlying entities to a specific user based on their assigned Business Unit. With this security configuration, each user will have accounts filtered to the Business Unit they are assigned to. You can also allow users to create their own rights for each account and determine who can read, edit and delete their specific accounts. This is another feature that is not a likely one that an enterprise sales organization will want to provide to its end users, but it s a nice feature that a smaller organization, that wants to provide end users with that flexibility, might consider a key requirement. Workflow Although some version 3.0 users would argue that CRM Dynamics workflow has taken a step back in version 4.0, many industry analysts and new customers alike are impressed with its flexibility and level of depth. With version 4.0, Microsoft has made it easy to assign rights to create, edit and run workflows at a role level and this can put powerful workflow tools directly into end users hands. This can be both a blessing and a curse, but having the option is a nice benefit to this version. The core application based workflow provides an easy to use interface that allows for the standard set of workflow types to be defined and run either as an on demand option or scheduled to run on a pre-defined schedule or when a specific event is triggered. These workflows can be created using a simple interface by an end user or by an administrator and published for end users based on the following triggers: When a record is created (Account is inserted) When the status changes (Lead goes from New to Qualified) When any field changes from one value to another on a record (Assigned Resource = Current user) When a record is deleted (Contact is deleted) When an event is triggered, the user can instruct the system to create a new record, update a value in a specific field on an existing record, assign a record to a specific user, send an or check to determine if another condition is true. Each of these activities can be put into steps and then also combined into Stages for reporting purposes to track the progress of a specific workflow by Stage. When composed and published, these workflows can be run on demand or combined and run in sequence as child workflows from a master parent workflow. Workflows can be scheduled to be run on a periodic basis as well. One example of where this can be specifically useful is for assigning leads in a specific geography to a specific salesperson and/or territory. If that s not enough sophistication for you, Microsoft has leveraged its latest release of Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) as the underlying architecture for the new Dynamics workflow engine. What this means is that developers with experience using Visual Studio can develop much more sophisticated workflows that also allow access into other third party systems to check conditions and reflect changes in the CRM system. WWF is also Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) compliant, so it can be used in tandem with other BPEL compliant systems to facilitate system to system workflow without the need for independently developed web services.
11 11 When considering which edition and deployment method to use for Microsoft CRM, keep in mind that workflows for the CRM Live product are limited based on the edition that is licensed. Reporting Much like workflow, Microsoft has a number of options when it comes to reports. There is a standard list of reports delivered with each module that users can access and print or export them to Excel, PDF and other common formats. In addition to that, there is a Report Wizard that is accessible by end users to create basic columnar reports and/or charts using filtering criteria and defining logical groupings of records for summarizing key statistics such as numeric counts or currency. It is a good tool that compares favorably with solutions from other CRM vendors. The Report Wizard was built upon Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, which is a robust reporting engine that allows developers to design, develop and deploy reports using a standard Report Definition Language (RDL). If Standard Reports and/or the Report Wizard is beyond the needs of specific users, customers that have developer knowledge of Microsoft s Visual Studio environment, can develop and publish custom reports and make them accessible to end users much like their other reports are. Business Intelligence This is one area where there appears to be a gap between product marketing and reality. Business Intelligence is often put into two categories, executive dashboards that provide insights on day to day metrics against thresholds and analytics or Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools that allow mid management and above to filter and mash up metrics and different filters to analyze and draw conclusions from the data. While Microsoft sells products to do both of those things, I did not see evidence of any prepackaged components that do either of them in the CRM system. This could be due to a number of factors, the primary factor being that all companies want to measure different things. While this is true, having a baseline that can be modified or adapted is better than having no prepackaged examples at all and forcing customers to rely on SRS and Analysis Services combined with Visual Studio to build these from scratch. Many of Microsoft s competitors offer role based and account level dashboards as well as predefined OLAP cubes for Sales, Marketing and Customer Support functions. Customization One of the key strengths and most enhanced features of Microsoft s Dynamics CRM platform is the ability to create custom Entities (like Accounts, Contacts, etc.) and Attributes (also known as fields) and define how they relate to each other. For example, you can create a separate entity under an Account record that is a 1:N to the Account like Club Affiliations or Subscriptions. Once this is done, you can define attributes and place them into sections onto the form. This can then be placed as either a menu item or a series of tabs linked to the Account. You can create Attributes or fields on a form from a list of common field types such as Date/Time, List Box, Text, Numeric, Decimal, Currency, etc. Custom Entities and Attributes are then available through all standard methods such as Import, Export, Advance Finder, Mail Merge, Report Wizard and even Security settings. The only limitation that should be noted here is that there is a limitation of one form per Entity. This may seem trivial, but it can limit your ability to, for example, have two Opportunity Information forms for a given organization, which can be a limiting factor with organizations that sell different products and services into the same sets of accounts. Integration / API As you would expect, Microsoft excels in this area as well with a full library of.net based integration services and an SDK for developing others as well as the ability to support third party plug ins. Microsoft also has packaged integration to all of its Dynamics line of Accounting and ERP solutions from its long line of product acquisitions such as
12 12 Great Plains, Solomon, Navision, etc. There are also a number of third party solution providers like CWR and TenDigits that provide tools to enhance access from mobile phones and PDA as well as ones from c360 for better analytics and dashboard capabilities. Lastly, there are a number of industry solutions that have been developed and maintained by partners in specific industries such as Media, Healthcare and Professional Services. PROFESSIONAL SERVICES SUPPORT / TRAINING Given the targeted audience of this product, Microsoft provides a large number of self service tools like e-learning courses, blogs and also maintains a customer support portal called the Resource Center. This is centered around helping small businesses get up and running on a 5-25 user license of their solution with limited customizations and limited training. While Microsoft does offer access to their own professional services organization, the vast majority of professional services assistance comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes from the Microsoft partner community including Avanade, their IT consultancy joint venture with Accenture. Partners range in size and scope from regional CRM boutique firms to large national Microsoft Certified Gold Partners capable of selling and servicing the full range of Microsoft products. There are also a small number of global consulting organizations, like Accenture, that can provide assistance if the project is large enough. Please keep in mind that resources from these organizations can vary widely in terms of their knowledge of the CRM product as well as knowledge of how to plan and manage a successful implementation. Pick your partner based on their ability to demonstrate a proven track record of satisfied customers with the selected product in the selected industry. You should also review resumes of each team member to make sure you are getting the experience you are paying for.
13 13 OTHER COMPARABLE VENDORS TO CONSIDER When suggesting alternatives to Oracle products, it is hard not to consider SAP. Big companies run Oracle ERP systems and the clear alternative is SAP. Oracle and SAP control the enterprise market for ERP systems and both firms have been known to significantly reduce prices to get a CRM sale. Even with that discount, we have never seen an Oracle CRM On Demand or SAP CRM project come in at a lower cost than pure hosted CRM providers can offer. A more thorough assessment of your options follows: Vendor Deployment Options Target Market Key Reasons to Consider Aplicor CRM SaaS Mid Market, Enterprise Same MS technology stack, but a much easier to use interface. Balanced strength in all modules Service Level Agreements NetSuite SaaS Small to Mid Market Integrated SaaS CRM and back office solutions Good SFA functionality through order processing RightNow SaaS Mid Market Strong in Customer Support Industry leader in SaaS Self Service SageCRM On Premise/SaaS Small to Mid Market Both deployment options with a comparable footprint to MS CRM. SalesForce.COM SaaS Small to Enterprise SFA functionality is strong Catalog of third party solutions is large Siebel On Demand SaaS Small to Mid Market Strong Sales and Customer Support functions. Oracle technology stack and development tools