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Microsoft Dynamics CRM software review

on demand crm Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Review

CRM Software Customization

One of the most enhanced features of Dynamics CRM version 4 is the capability to create custom entity objects (such as accounts or contacts) and related attributes (such as field elements) and define how they relate to each other. For example, you can create a separate entity object under a company record that offers a one-to-many relationship to the company such as affiliations or memberships. Once complete, you can define custom attributes and insert them into logical sections of the form. This can then be placed as either a menu item or a series of tabs linked to the company records. You can create custom attributes or fields on a form from a list of common field types such as Text, Date, Date/Time, List Box, Percent, Numeric, Decimal and Currency. User defined Entities and Attributes are then accessible through standard methods such as Import, Export, Advance Finder, Mail Merge, Report Wizard and even Security settings.

One material limitation that should be noted here is that there is a limit of one form per Entity object. This may seem trivial, but it can limit your ability to, for example, have two different sale opportunity information forms for a given company, which can be a severely limiting factor with companies that sell different products and services into the same account population.

System Integration

As you would expect, Dynamics excels in the area of software integration. Dynamics is complemented with a robust library of .NET based integration services and an SDK (software development kit) for developing custom programs or simply supporting third party plug ins or mash-ups. Dynamics also has a basic packaged integration to its Dynamics line of accounting software and ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications that stem from its long line of company acquisitions that included Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta. There are a number of third party solution providers like CWR and TenDigits that provide third party solutions and tools for functions such as mobile phone and PDA support or dashboard capabilities. Lastly, there are a number of industry solutions that have been developed by Microsoft's partners in specific industries such as Government, Media, Healthcare, Financial Services and Professional Services.

Services, Support and Training

Given the SMB target audience of this product, Microsoft offers a number of self service and instruction tools such as e-learning courses, blogs and a customer support portal called the Resource Center. This collective aim of the tools is to help small businesses get up and running with limited training. While Microsoft does offer access to their own professional services organization, the vast majority of consulting and training services are provided by the Microsoft partner community. Microsoft business partners range in size and scope from local and regional CRM boutique firms to large national and global Microsoft Certified Gold Partners capable of selling and servicing the full range of Microsoft business software solutions. There are also a small number of global consulting organizations, like Accenture, that can provide assistance for the largest projects. It is critical to keep in mind that the resources from these partner companies vary widely in terms of their industry and product knowledge. Pick your partner carefully 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 proposed consultant to verify you are getting the experience and insight you are paying for.

Other Comparable Solutions To Consider

When considering Microsoft CRM software as either an on premise or SaaS solution, you may also want to consider the following suppliers.

Supplier Deployment Options Target Market Key Reasons To Consider
Aplicor CRM SaaS Middle Market & Enterprise Same MS technology stack, but much easier to use
Balanced strength in all modules; also offer ERP suite
Reliable and backed with Service Level Agreements
NetSuite SaaS Small to Midsize Business (SMB)

Integrated SaaS CRM and back office solutions
Good SFA functionality through order processing
Integrated e-commerce engine

RightNow SaaS Middle Market Strong in Customer Support
Industry leader in SaaS Self Service
Sage CRM On Premise, SaaS Small to Midsize Business (SMB) Both deployment options with a comparable footprint to MS CRM SaaS Small to Enterprise SFA functionality is strong
Catalog of third party solutions is large
Industry leader for SaaS CRM systems
Siebel On Demand SaaS SMB Good Sales and Customer Support functions
Oracle technology stack and development tools
Large company support source


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