Saturday, September 4, 2010

Microsoft CRM Customization: Integration with third party SQL Application/Database

Microsoft CRM Client Relationship Management package from Microsoft Business Solutions was initially designed to be customizable with Microsoft Visual Studio.Net and one of its programming languages C#.Net or VB.Net. You can use ADO.Net, Web Service, Transact SQL scripting and stored procedures, deploy such SQL Server tools as Linked Server to all ODBC/OLEDB compliant database, including ORACLE, Sybase, Ingress, DB2, Unidata, Pervasive SQL, Ctree and even Lotus Notes/Domino. In this small article we would like to give you the clue on programming the integration with SQL third party Database.

First use Microsoft CRM SDK to initiate communication with Microsoft CRM, we have it in C#:


String[] arr1 = coll.AllKeys;

int loop1, loop2;

for (loop1 = 0; loop1 0?1:arr1.Length); loop1++)

{

String[] arr2 = coll.GetValues(arr1[loop1]);

for (loop2 = 0; loop2 < arr2.Length; loop2++)

{

strAccountId = arr2[loop2].Replace("}",null);

strAccountId = strAccountId.Replace("{",null);

}

}

if (Page.IsPostBack==false)

{

// Server should be set with the name of the platform Webcrm-evaluation, customer-relationship- server

string Server = ConfigurationSettings.AppSettings["ServerName"];

// VirtualDirectory should be set with the name of the Microsoft

// CRM Virtual Directory on the platform Web server

string VirtualDirectory = "mscrmservices";

string strDir = "http://" + Server + "/" + VirtualDirectory + "/";

// BizUser proxy object

Microsoft.CRM.Proxy.BizUser oBizUser = new Microsoft.CRM.Proxy.BizUser ();

oBizUser.Credentials = System.Net.CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials;

oBizUser.Url = strDir + "BizUser.srf";

// CRMAccount proxy object

Microsoft.CRM.Proxy.CRMAccount account = new Microsoft.CRM.Proxy.CRMAccount ();

account.Credentials = System.Net.CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials;

account.Url = strDir + "CRMAccount.srf";


Then you use ADO.Net for calling stored procedure with parameters to do the integration job:


try

{

string SQLStatement="ICS_UpdateAccountPrivate '"+

strAccountId +"' , '" + this.TextBoxWorkPerformed.Text +

"' , "+doubleEncode(System.Double.Parse(this.TextBoxAnnualRevenue.Text))+" , "+

intEncode(System.Int32.Parse(this.TextBoxNumberOfEmployees.Text.Replace(",","")))+" , "+

doubleEncode(System.Double.Parse(this.TextBoxAverageGrowthRate.Text))+" , "+

"'"+this.DropDownListOwnership.SelectedItem.Text +"' , "+

intEncode(System.Int32.Parse(this.RadioButtonList.SelectedItem.Value))+" , "+

intEncode(System.Int32.Parse(this.TextBoxCredit.Text.Replace(",","")))+" , '"+

this.TextBoxComments.Text+"'";

System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection tmpConnection =

new System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection(ConfigurationSettings.AppSettings["ConnectionStringICS"]

);

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies USA nationwide Great Plains, Microsoft CRM customization company, based in Chicago, California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Canada, UK, Australia and having locations in multiple states and internationally (www.albaspectrum.com), he is CMA, Great Plains Certified Master, Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer. You can contact Andrew: 1-866-528-0577 andrewk@albaspectrum.com.


akarasev@albaspectrum.com

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Friday, August 6, 2010

CRM - Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

Relationships... Money... Health..The Past...Failure..Mental and Spiritual Battles..Time Constraints...Professional pressures..

At any given moment you, your clients, and employees are dealing with one or the other of these challenges in life. No one has escaped from this life untouched by problems, both big and small. No matter how people may appear on the outside, they battle with some problem that is unmanageable on the inside. The clearer this is to us the easier it is to be extrodinarily kind to others.

But if we are also suffering how is it possible to do this? It is not easy, it is a learned skill. It needs to be taught to all your employees. It must be practiced and practiced until it becomes habit. This habit needs to be policy and employees need to be encouraged daily until the habit is developed.

Customer Relationships are built on this knowledge. Why people act a certain way is always based on their level of life challenges at a given moment. This includes both employees and customers.

We cannot solve all their problems nor should we, but the fact that a person might be struggling in their personal or professional life needs to in the back of our mind whenever we deal with people.

There is nothing as memorable as a person's kindness when we are in a difficult situation.

Help your clients to solve their immediate problems (pertaining to your business!)and they will be satisfied. Give them reason to smile and they will be impressed. Do it every time they contact you and they will never leave you. Client loyalty is a reflection of the level of care they preceive they are getting from a business. This does not mean we sacrifice our profits and productivity. It means that we increase our profits and productivity. Happy employees work better and exhibit higher levels of company loyalty when dealing with customers and happy customers will return and tell their friends.

No matter what you sell or manufacture; from fertilizer to real estate, from preschools to restaurants, you are first in the business of providing solutions for people. These solutions need to include how the person feels when they walk out the door, and you must always keep that in mind.

Owner Lasting Impressions 2 - Custom Business gift baskets, greeting cards, Customer Service Tips
www.lastingimpressions2.com

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization Or Third Party Product ? Overview For Consultant

With version 3.0 MS CRM will be more exposed to end-user tuning, software development, customizations. Microsoft CRM SDK is becoming more sophisticated with post-call-out technology reconsidering, deprecating a lot of 1.2 CRM SDK methods, replacing Crystal Reports Enterprise with MS SQL Server Reporting Services, changing MS CRM Exchange Connector functionality, etc. Microsoft itself has to be very flexible and freed up to change/adjust development standards if required. In such situation end customer should be very knowledgeable and savvy to predict the future, when he needs to deploy custom solutions/modules. In this small article we will consider pros and contras of deploying third parties or just go ahead with customer specific unique customization.

Third Party Product.

? Pros: The cost is normally controllable, because product is already developed and ready to be implemented. Plus it is possible to get references on the reliability of the product from all the kinds of user groups, product reviews, etc. Also ? sometimes it is referred as weakness but it might be considered as the plus ? if product is developed and supported by the known vendor ? you should believe that it will be upgraded and available for future MS CRM releases.

? Contras. The first minus we would like to mention is usually not described in the textbooks ? this is the problem when, say product A is purchased by Microsoft itself and inaugurated as from now on ?official? solutions, and if you historically selected product B ? coming from the competitor ? you are in a problem ? you will see you software vendor to be weakened and slowly phasing out alternative product B

Unique Customization.

? Pros. You will have so-called source code, if you negotiate it right with the custom developer or custom development company ? then you can transfer version upgrade or product modification to the market leader (who will be giving you better price and quality assurance in the future). Other pluses might be cost saving, due to the fact that you are paying for required functionality only, not for something you will never use.

? Contras. Cost might be crossing the budgeted line, because you might not be able to select reliable software developer (all of them might be in the learning curve, because MS CRM is relatively young product) ? this is very strong argument, when you have just purchased the CRM and yet not know the players on the customization market.

Production Environment Challenges. When you are already in production ? be sure that MS CRM needs testing, if you introduce custom logic. You should try to isolate custom logic, and test it in the isolated space ? again MS CRM doesn?t have parallel test company environment ? opposite to what you have in ERP system, such as Great Plains/Dynamics GP.

About the Author: Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com http://www.greatplains.com.mx ) - Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, Navision, Axapta, MS CRM, Oracle Financials and IBM Lotus Domino Partner

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Microsoft CRM Selection

Microsoft CRM is recent (2001) CRM answer from Microsoft and attempt top get market share from traditional vendors: Siebel, Oracle, Onyx. Now it is targeted to the whole spectrum of horizontal and vertical market clientele. It is tightly integrated with other Microsoft Business Solutions products such as Microsoft Great Plains, Solomon, Navision (the last two in progress).

We would like you to give you Microsoft CRM selection advise, based on our MS CRM consulting practice, going back to its inception in 1999. This article is written in FAQ style for beginner level

1. What is your industry how strange it may look close to 40% of our clients or so-called orphan clients who needs help with Microsoft CRM customization are freight forwarding, transportation companies, who needs either improvement in Exchange-CRM connector or MS CRM integration with their freight forwarding system, where they would like to see on the fly resent shipment info. And also to mention freight forwarding companies are usually large (more than 50 CRM users)

2. How comfortable you are with Microsoft technology in-house support The old-days idea of Apple computer was to make computer absolutely intuitive and working for housewife. Now we know that this is not realized so far. If you compare MS CRM with Siebel you will see that MS CRM requires y0u to have Microsoft Certified people in staff. Everyone knows that Microsoft is so innovative that each product requires daily service packs and patches

3. Do you have Great Plains, Solomon or Navision CRM is usually integrated with ERP system and if you are looking at MS CRM you should benefit if you have ERP from Microsoft Business Solutions (Great Plains, Solomon, Navision, Axapta or Small Business Manager - SBM)

4. Operating System Philosophy - Microsoft likes clients who have no UNIX/LINUX/IBM/Apple etc inclination and staked on Microsoft Windows 2003/2000/XP/Longhorn, preferably staying on Intel platform (No AMD Athlon 64)

Have fun in selection and decision. We are here to help you: 1-866-528-0577

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies USA nationwide Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Great Plains customization company, based in Chicago, Arizona, Colorado, California, Texas, New York, Georgia and Florida and having locations in multiple states and internationally (www.albaspectrum.com), he is Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

CRM Budget: How To Bring Your CRM Project In On-Budget

It seems that having a project come in On-Budget is the and holy-grail of project management, especially when it comes to CRM projects. With their 70% failure rate, CRM projects represent a significant risk to a small business' financial health and warrants more "measure twice, cut once" consideration before beginning.

Coming in On-Budget does not mean you managed to squeeze your project into whatever arbitrary budget you came up with when you first started. It also doesn't mean that you started with an overly generous budget.

It does mean that you develop a budget that takes into account an analysis of 4 critical areas:

1. PAYOFF. You need to know exactly how your CRM system is going to generate ROI. This will help you focus your project on the right areas. By knowing how you expect payoff to be achieved, you can plan to achieve it.

2 RISK. You need to figure out where the risk is in your project because "risk=expense". By figuring out what can go wrong, you can take measures to minimize and contain that risk.

3. SERVICES. Be sure to fully account for the variety of services that will be required. A few often overlooked areas that can increase your services bill significantly include: meetings, testing time, debugging time and "while you're here..." time.

4. TECHNOLOGY. Choosing the wrong technology is can be a huge waste of money. From the worst case scenario of a totally failed project to having to spend extra money to make the wrong software do things it wasn't intended to do.

What makes putting together a realistic budget so difficult for small businesses is that it's not what they do and they don't have the experience of having done several before. It's not what they do. So, they rely on the Sellers of CRM who have their own vested interest in not scaring off their customers with numbers that are perceived to be too expensive.

By putting together a realistic budget, you may very well find that the project is going to cost much more than you were intitally prepared to spend. It's best to find this out now and before you "sign on any dotted lines".

If you do find out the project is going to cost more, here are a few ideas of what to do:

- WAIT & SAVE. Perhaps you need to wait 6 months until you have a bigger budget. Use this time to get prepared for the project: learn more about the software choices, make sure you're business processes are as fine tuned as they can be, and focus on how CRM software will generate ROI.

- GO AHEAD. It may be more money than you were expecting, but may still be within your budget. If you're clear on how the CRM system is going to generate ROI and you're otherwise ready, go for it!

- SCALE DOWN. If you have a very clear idea of how the CRM software is going to achieve ROI and you can't afford the full project, focus in a smaller area to begin with that will have a payback. Use this payback to help fund future projects. It's always a good idea to start with smaller, high-payoff projects first.

- FIND MORE ROI. If you have a really clear and compelling business case for how a CRM system is going to improve your bottom-line, it's much easier to find the necessary funds to implement it.

- DOUBLE CHECK. Make sure you're choosing the right technology. Cheap software can often be expensive to implement. Double check to make sure you're basing your budget on the right CRM software. You may find that a software that costs more in licensing, ends up being an overall more affordable solution.

Coming in On-Budget means you started with a realistic budget. The Insider's CRM Success System goes into great detail on how to develop a realistic budget and provides the control forms and worksheets you'll need.

Scott Gingrich is the creator of The Insider's CRM Success Toolkit, the world's most complete and only guaranteed approach to successful CRM projects. www.thecrmcoach.com.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CRM On Budget: How To Develop and Stick To a Realistic Budget for CRM

It seems that having a project come in On-Budget is the holy-grail of project management, especially when it comes to CRM projects. With their 70% failure rate, CRM projects represent a significant risk to a small business' financial health and warrants more "measure twice, cut once" consideration before beginning.

Coming in On-Budget does not mean you managed to squeeze your project into whatever arbitrary budget you came up with when you first started. It also doesn't mean that you started with an overly generous budget.

It does mean that you develop a budget that takes into account an analysis of 4 critical areas:

1. PAYOFF. You need to know exactly how your CRM system is going to generate ROI. This will help you focus your project on the right areas. By knowing how you expect payoff to be achieved, you can plan to achieve it.

2 RISK. You need to figure out where the risk is in your project because "risk=expense". By figuring out what can go wrong, you can take measures to minimize and contain that risk.

3. SERVICES. Be sure to fully account for the variety of services that will be required. A few often overlooked areas that can increase your services bill significantly incoude: meetings, testing time, debugging time and "while you're here..." time.

4. TECHNOLOGY. Choosing the wrong technology is can be a huge waste of money. From the worst case scenario of a totally failed project to having to spend extra money to make the wrong software do things it wasn't intended to do.

What makes putting together a realistic budget so difficult for small businesses is that it's not what they do and they don't have the experience of having done several before. It's not what they do. So, they rely on the Sellers of CRM who have their own vested interest in not scaring off their customers with numbers that are perceived to be too expensive.

By putting together a realistic budget, you may very well find that the project is going to cost much more than you were intitally prepared to spend. It's best to find this out now and before you "sign on any dotted lines".

If you do find out the project is going to cost more, here are a few ideas of what to do:

- WAIT & SAVE. Perhaps you need to wait 6 months until you have a bigger budget. Use this time to get prepared for the project: learn more about the software choices, make sure you're business processes are as fine tuned as they can be, and focus on how CRM software will generate ROI.

- GO AHEAD. It may be more money than you were expecting, but may still be within your budget. If you're clear on how the CRM system is going to generate ROI and you're otherwise ready, go for it!

- SCALE DOWN. If you have a very clear idea of how the CRM software is going to achieve ROI and you can't afford the full project, focus in a smaller area to begin with that will have a payback. Use this payback to help fund future projects. It's always a good idea to start with smaller, high-payoff projects first.

- FIND MORE ROI. If you have a really clear and compelling business case for how a CRM system is going to improve your bottom-line, it's much easier to find the necessary funds to implement it.

- DOUBLE CHECK. Make sure you're choosing the right technology. Cheap software can often be expensive to implement. Double check to make sure you're basing your budget on the right CRM software. You may find that a software that costs more in licensing, ends up being an overall more affordable solution.

Coming in On-Budget means you started with a realistic budget. The Insider's CRM Success System goes into great detail on how to develop a realistic budget and provides the control forms and worksheets you'll need.

Scott Gingrich, founder of The CRM Coach (www.thecrmcoach.com) is the creator of "The Insider's CRM Success System", the world's most complete and only CRM Success System guaranteed to save thousands, developed specially for small business.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

IT Department Skills to Support Microsoft Great Plains and Microsoft CRM

Microsoft Great Plains as ERP and Microsoft CRM as Client Relation Management system is very robust combination and could serve midsize to large corporation as Business System. Being VP IT or IT Director you need to foresee the positions to have in your IT department to do internal MS Great Plains and MS CRM support.

Let us give you the directions, based on our research and consulting practice.

1. Microsoft SQL Server Specialist we specially do not name this position as MS SQL DBA, because both Great Plains and MS CRM are not very complex from the database administration side, they do not use indexes optimization, referential integrity, probably do not require complex transaction log backup/recovery scenarios. On the other hand this position requires Great Plains and Microsoft CRM tables structure analysis and some primary Great Plains data fixing skills via SQL queries, described in MBS Customer source techknowledge database. The best candidate should have some accounting background - to be able to address ongoing issues to MBS technical support.

2. Network Administrator with good Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory skills. Microsoft CRM uses all the newest Microsoft technologies, and Exchange is a workhorse here. In order to install and upgrade MS CRM this guy needs to understand the under-laying Microsoft technology. In the best case - she/he should know Exchange security structure and probably program Exchange handlers, due to the fact that CRM/Exchange connector is not a perfect tool yet.

3. C# or VB.Net programmer with excellent SQL Skills if you are midsize or large company - you should have this position - you will need web publishing and MS CRM customization and its support. Currently Microsoft CRM SDK has C# examples - so C# programmer would be the best fit, it may have more VB code in the future, so the C# - VB balance maybe restored.

4. Crystal Reports Designer/Programmer - Crystal Reports is the best tool available on the market to address both Great Plains and MS CRM reporting needs. This position maybe merged with one of the above.

These people should be probably cross-trained in both Great Plains, Microsoft CRM, Crystal Reports, SQL and C# programming, so you do not depend on the unique skills of one person. In our opinion, which is based on our long term consulting practice - these skills will allow you to keep the cost of IT support reasonably low and avoid paying high consulting price to your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner.

Happy hiring and training! But in any case you need to select Microsoft Business Solutions Partner/Var/Reseller to be your official representative. This is how MBS has its channel working - it assures that Microsoft Business Solutions products are properly implemented. If you want us to be your Microsoft Business Solutions Partner - give us a call 1-866-528-0577! help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies USA nationwide Great Plains, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft RMS customization company, based in Chicago, Arizona, California, Taxes, New York, Florida and having locations in multiple states and internationally (www.albaspectrum.com), he is Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer.

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